This One Nutrient Could Play a Big Role in Your Mental Health

Updated 05/10/19
how to reduce stress

If you struggle with anxiety and depression, there's one nutrient you might not be getting enough of. Magnesium affects biochemical reactions in the body, and apparently, most Americans are not getting enough. Psychology Today reports that the average U.S. intake of magnesium is well below the recommended daily allowance (320 to 420 mg) and suggests that this could explain a visible increase in mental health issues.

While humans once had no problem absorbing copious amounts of magnesium—by consuming organ meats, seafood, and mineral water and even just by swimming in the ocean—this is no longer the case. Today, magnesium is removed from water through standard municipal treatment, and thanks to routine grain-refining processes that alter whole grains, many types of bread also lack the nutrient.

Pair this deficiency with the stress of modern life (which can drain much of any existing magnesium in your body), and you’re left susceptible to adverse health effects, explains PT. Thankfully, the remedy is simple. Increasing your magnesium intake can keep your stress levels in check.

Why? Magnesium regulates your body’s stress response and prevents the entrance of stress hormones into the brain, which is why Emily Deans, MD, calls magnesium “the original chill pill.” In order to get these feel-good effects, you can turn to foods that are rich in magnesium, like spinach, chard, pumpkin, seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate, and bananas, or you can take a supplement. Deans recommends magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate, but be sure to consult a doctor to weigh whether a diet adjustment is right for you.

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