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Magnesium Benefits Depression

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Melissa Peterson ● 2 min read

The daily use of magnesium supplementation reduces depression symptoms in magnesium deficient individuals and returns serum levels to normal, according to a recent study.

In a randomised, placebo controlled trial, 30 people with depression and low serum magnesium levels took 500mg of magnesium oxide a day, while the control group (n = 30) received a placebo.
After eight weeks, the magnesium group had significant reductions in the Beck Depression Inventory scores (15.65 ± 8.9), compared to the placebo group (10.40 ± 7.9) (p = 0.02). Serum magnesium levels were significantly different across both groups, with 88.5% of the treatment group returning to normal serum levels, compared to 48.1% of the control group
(p = 0.002).[1]

This study shows that magnesium can reduce depressive symptoms in those with hypomagnesaemia, even when using a less absorbable form. Magnesium oxide, like magnesium sulphate, has a low solubility and is therefore not as well absorbed as the forms with high solubility, such as amino acid chelate, aspartate, citrate, lactate and chloride.[2,3]

Previous research on the effect of magnesium supplementation on depressive symptoms supports this outcome. A review of the numerous clinical trials shows magnesium as having anti-depressant potential for the following:

  • Mood stabilisation in bipolar disorder
  • Depressive symptoms with PMS and CFS
  • Depressive/anxiety states accompanying epilepsy
  • Depression and paraesthesia accompanying Gitelman’s syndrome
  • Major depression
  • Depression with hypomagnesaemia and type 2 diabetes in the elderly
  • Depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder[3]

Even though this study showed low serum levels at the beginning of the study,[1] many others have not identified alterations in biochemical levels of magnesium in depressed individuals.[2]

However, depressive symptoms may occur regardless of the biochemical status, as extracellular levels of magnesium may not always reflect intracellular levels. The body needs to maintain adequate concentrations in the blood for magnesium to perform all of its numerous functions, with ions being constantly redistributed between blood, tissue and organs. For example, when blood levels drop magnesium may be mobilised from bone to replenish red blood cells.[3,4]

This discrepancy was evident in a study testing the correlation between oxidative stress and magnesium levels in obese women. Researchers found that even though the biochemical levels were normal in both control and treatment groups at the end of the study, further analysis showed a negative correlation between oxidative stress markers and magnesium levels. The authors stated the possible explanation for the normal biochemical levels may be due to this homoeostatic mechanism controlling magnesium blood levels, while still performing its role of reducing cellular oxidative stress.[4]


  1. Rajizadeh A, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Yassini-Ardakani M, et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on depression status in depressed patients with magnesium deficiency: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition 2017;35:56-60. [Abstract]
  2. Schuette SA, Lashner BA, Janghorbani M. Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 1994;18(5):430-435. [Abstract]
  3. Serefko A, Szopa A, Poleszak E. Magnesium and depression. Magnes Res 2016;29(3):112-119. [Abstract]
  4. Morais JBS, Severo JS, de Oliveira ARS, et al. Magnesium status and its association with oxidative stress in obese women. Biol Trace Elem Res 2017;175(2):306-311. [Full Text]


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Melissa Peterson has been a writer and educator in the health and medical science fields for over 15 years. Naturopathically trained, Melissa also has postgraduate qualifications in literature research and reviewing. Her business, Words On Therapy, provides many services to industry including technical articles, white papers, blogs, SEO content, copywriting and research collation.