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Magnesium and the Brain – The Ultimate Chill Pill

Magnesium is a vital mineral that is often deficient in our diets. Heavy stress, exercise, lack of sleep and a lack of variety in healthy foods can lead to a multitude of health issues.

The role magnesium plays is varied and important; ranging from acting as a counter-ion to calcium and potassium in the muscle cells to prevent cramps, help cells maintain aerobic and anaerobic energy balances and even keeping the nervous system under the correct firing frequency. In the brain, potassium and sodium balance each other. In the heart and other muscles, magnesium pulls some of the load.

The recommended daily intake in Australia is 270-320 mg a day for ‘adequate health’.

Of course this doesn’t take into account the plethora is stresses we deal with every day which can mean we need even more. In fact, there is an intriguing article entitled Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment, published in Medical Hypothesis in 2006. Now Medical Hypothesis is a bit of a speculation but the references are definitely solid.

Here are a few short excerpts:

“A 59 y/o “hypomanic-depressive male”, with a long history of treatable mild depression, developed anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia after a year of extreme personal stress and bad diet (“fast food”). Lithium and a number of antidepressants did nothing for him. 300mg magnesium glycinate (and later taurinate) was given with every meal. His sleepwas immediately restored, and his anxiety and depression were greatly reduced, though he sometimes needed to wake up in the middle of the night to take a magnesium pill to keep his “feeling of wellness.” A 500mg calcium pill would cause depression within one hour, extinguished by the ingestion of 400mg magnesium.

A 23 year-old woman with a previous traumatic brain injury became depressed after extreme stress with work, a diet of fast food, “constant noise,” and poor academic performance. After one week of magnesium treatment, she became free of depression, and her short term memory and IQ returned.”

Let’s look at the mechanisms of why this may be helping. Magnesium hangs out in between synapses together with calcium and glutamate (Calcium and glutamate are excitory minerals and also toxic in high doses.) Magnesium can sit on a synapse receptor without exciting it…calcium and glutamate cannot! Therefore if we lack magnesium we lose an important “guard” for some synapses and they can become overactive – hence nervous tension, twitches, cramps and mental fatigue.

Coupled together, magnesium can therefore inhibit stress hormones from being secreted by the adrenal glands and prevent adrenaline (and other stress hormones) from reaching the brain.

There are a heap of fantastic ways to increase natural magnesium levels without ingesting pill after pill. Green leafy veg, red meat, Epsom salt baths and some nuts. Epsom salt baths and floatation tanks make it easier to absorb via the skin and less chance of placing additional pressure on the kidneys which can be dangerous in some cases. Research what you think may work for you, or contact Elevation to book a floatation tank to restore your magnesium to optimal performance levels.