Friday, 7 July 2017

Magnesium Supplementation May Help Relieve Depression

Depression is a sadly common mental health condition that affects millions of people in Australia and around the world. To make things worse, assumptions about a person's competency if they are mentally ill in any way often stops people from being diagnosed and treated. And then there is the side effects from socially-sanctioned antidepressant drugs, prescribed after being given the even more disempowering explanation of 'you have a chemical imbalance so you need medication'. However, there are many natural therapies for depression that give you back your power, as they are more preventive in nature and help your body to heal itself. One of these, as a recent study shows, is magnesium.

Food sources of magnesium.
This study involved 126 men and women who suffered from mild to moderate depression. Sixty-two were given a supplement containing 248mg of magnesium (as magnesium chloride, not the best supplemental form) for six weeks, and then spent six weeks with no supplementation. The others first spent six weeks taking no magnesium, and then swapped with the first group for the second half. All volunteers were given questionnaires to evaluate their depression and anxiety at the start of the study and every two weeks during treatment. During supplementation, depression and anxiety scores improved significantly, and participants were less likely to suffer from headaches. During the control period, however, depression scores did not change and anxiety worsened. As their symptoms showed improvement in two weeks, magnesium could be a rapid-acting remedy for mild and moderate depression, with a wide range of side benefits. And if you are worried about negative social attitudes towards depression, magnesium is indicated for so many health complaints that a supplement implies nothing.

So, why? What does magnesium do? Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, from energy production to the synthesis of neurotransmitters that control mood. If you are deficient, and many people are, then these chemical reactions are limited. Of course, magnesium is not the only nutrient that we need to make neurotransmitters. B vitamins, particularly B12, folate (B9), B6 and niacin (B3), are essential co-factors in neurotransmitter production. Deficiencies do not just affect mood, but overall brain function and memory. A balance of omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids is also important, as they are a part of nerve cell membranes and play a role in communication between cells. Impaired communication affects things like mood, memory and function in general. Vitamin D deficiency is another common problem, which can contribute to depression by altering gene expression and the ability to control inflammation. Overall, the 'chemical imbalance' is more complex than conventional medicine tells you, and we have far more control over it too.

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