We know that food has the power to boost (or bust) our mood. Certain nutrients, in particular, support our mental health by regulating the chemicals in our bodies that control our state of mind. That includes one that many of us aren’t getting enough of: magnesium. And food plays a major role.
For starters, modern farming techniques have led to a depletion of magnesium in soil. Water-softening technology has also stripped drinking water of magnesium. And, our reliance on highly-processed food also means we get less if this vital mineral.
How Magnesium Impacts Your Mood
So what happens in the brain and body when we don’t get enough of this essential mineral? Research shows a link between low intake and mental health. “When you start to untangle the effects of magnesium in the nervous system, you touch upon nearly every single biological mechanism for depression,” writes psychiatrist Emily Deans, MD, in Psychology Today.
Magnesium is also critical to our hormone balance and stress response, according to Deans. Chronic stress causes excess cortisol in the body, which damages the brain and can make the effects of stress even worse, leading to depression. Magnesium helps suppress the release of stress hormones like cortisol, and acts as a barrier to prevent the entrance of stress hormones into the brain.
It also protects receptors against an excess of calcium, which can damage the brain by over-activating neurons.
Magnesium-Rich Foods to Add to Your Diet
Of course, like most things, how much magnesium you need is different for everyone. Here’s a chart to help you figure out your daily requirement. And, if you’re looking to increase your intake, here are a few foods to add to your diet:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, kale, collard greens, and beet greens
- Milk, yogurt, and some other dairy products
- Chia seeds