Don't Stress It With Magnesium
Better Nutrition|November 2020
Sleep, anxiety, and depression—magnesium helps improve all of them, and most of us don’t get enough.
By Lisa Turner

You know you need magnesium for healthy bones. But this important mineral—the fourth most abundant in the human body—plays a key role in many other, equally crucial physiological processes. The majority of your body’s magnesium is stored in your bones; the rest is distributed in muscles, tissues, and bodily fluids, where it takes part in hundreds of enzymatic reactions. In addition to bone health, magnesium is essential for energy production, nerve function, muscle contraction and relaxation, heart rhythm, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and more.

And if you find yourself irritable, stressed and downright depressed during the hyped-up holiday season, this critical mineral may help. Studies suggest that adequate magnesium intake can calm stress, improve mood, and enhance sleep. Some highlights:

* Stress and anxiety. Magnesium plays a key role in regulating the body’s response to stress. Chronic physical or mental stress depletes your body of magnesium, and low magnesium levels intensify stress—creating a vicious cycle. Magnesium modulates activity of the body’s stress response system, and studies suggest increasing magnesium intake may reduce anxiety, ease stress, and minimize the response to fear.

* Mood and depression. Magnesium is important for many of the pathways, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, and it’s also associated with inflammation, known to play a part in symptoms of depression. Studies link low magnesium intake with a higher risk for depression, and suggest increasing magnesium can significantly improve symptoms of depression and anxiety—in some cases, as effectively as an antidepressant drug.

* Sleep. Magnesium interacts with GABA, a neurotransmitter that reduces the activity of neurons in the brain, quieting and calming the nervous system and encouraging sleep. It also impacts melatonin, the hormone that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycles, and relaxes muscles to induce deeper sleep. Studies suggest that magnesium improves total sleep time and quality, and shortens the time it takes to fall asleep.

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