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Mental Health Week : The Role of Magnesium and Trace Elements in the Management of Depression and Anxiety.

By: Alison Smith Ph.D.

Mental illness can affect every aspect of a person’s life, and of all the varying types of mental illnesses, depression and anxiety are the most common disorders in Canada: with 3.2 million Canadians suffering from symptoms of depression, 2.4 million experiencing anxiety, and 1.2 million suffering with both anxiety and depression, simultaneously 1.

Mental illness is one of the primary causes of disability in Canada and around the world 1. For that reason, the Canadian Mental Health Association has designated the first week of May as Mental Health Week, in hopes of bringing awareness to a most prevalent, yet stigmatized and misunderstood, disability2.

What is the cause of anxiety and depression?

The primary causes of anxiety and depression include: genetic predisposition, chronic elevated stress, chronic illness, and environmental hazards 2,3,4,5; however, nutritional factors, including vitamin, mineral, and trace element deficiencies, also play a crucial role in triggering symptoms of anxiety and depression 6-7-8

Why Canadians are at risk?

Despite the essential role of some minerals and trace elements to maintain healthy brain function, most modern Canadian diets are deficient in minerals and trace elements, thus predisposing many adult Canadians to anxiety and depression. For example, in the 2012 Canadian community health survey, Health Canada reported that 45% of adult Canadians are not consuming the minimum daily requirement of magnesium 9: that’s a staggering 10.7 million adult Canadians who are at risk of magnesium deficiency: a condition linked with anxiety and depression.

Canadians are at risk to develop magnesium deficiency for four main reasons:

  • Canadian agricultural soil is missing 85% of its original mineral content10;
  • Consumption of refined and processed food 7;
  • Consumption of demineralized reverse osmosis water 11;
  • Chronic stress, which depletes magnesium stores11

What role does magnesium play in anxiety and depression?

Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 biochemical reactions, including maintaining healthy brain function 12. Magnesium deficiency leads to depression, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety 13 because magnesium deficiency causes brain cell dysfunction 11. Studies have demonstrated a reduction in anxiety symptoms and a rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium supplementation 11,14

Is there scientific evidence that magnesium chloride can help to relieve anxiety or depression?

Simply put, yes, magnesium chloride can help to prevent and manage anxiety and depression. Supplementing with magnesium chloride has been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression in patients with diabetes 15. It has also been used to reduce anxiety in animal model experiments16,17

Which trace elements play a role in anxiety and depression?

Of the 72 trace elements found in ConcenTrace®, seven are implicated in scientific studies as playing a role in the prevention and management of depression. Studies have shown patients with depression to exhibit a deficiency in one or more of the following trace elements: chromium, iodine, iron, lithium, selenium, vanadium, and zinc. In terms of anxiety, a deficiency in zinc is associated with anxiety symptoms 7-8

It should also be noted that excess, rather than deficiency, of the trace elements manganese or copper is associated with anxiety and depression. Overall, when considering trace elements, the most important factor associated with maintaining optimal mental health is a balance between all trace elements 8

  1. Pearson, C., Janz, T. et Ali, J. (2013). Mental and substance use disorders in Canada. Health at a Glance. Septembre. Statistique Canada, no de catalogue 82-624-X.
  2. Mathers, C., Lopez, A. et Murray, C. (2001). The burden of disease and mortality by condition: data, methods, and results for 2001. Global Burden of Disease and Risk Factors, 45.
  3. Spaner, D., Bland, R. et Newman, S. (1994). Major depressive disorder. Acta Psychiatr Scand, Suppl 376, 7-15.
  4. De Marco, R. (2000). The epidemiology of major depression: implications of occurrence, recurrence, and stress in a Canadian community sample. Can J Psychiatry, 45, 67-74.
  5. Evans, D., Charney, D., Lewis, L., Golden, R., Gorman, J., Krishnan, K., et autres. (2005). Mood disorders in the medically ill: scientific review and recommendations. Biol Psychiatry, 58, 175-89.
  6. Lakhan, S. et Vieira, K. (2008). Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutrition Journal, 7(2), 1-8.
  7. Młyniec, K., Davies, C. L., de Agüero Sánchez, I. G., Pytka, K., Budziszewska, B. et Nowak, G. (2014). Essential elements in depression and anxiety. Part I. Pharmacological Reports, 66(4), 534-544.
  8. Młyniec, K., Gaweł, M., Doboszewska, U., Starowicz, G., Pytka, K., Davies, C. L. et Budziszewska, B. (2015). Essential elements in depression and anxiety. Part II. Pharmacological Reports, 67(2), 187-194.
  9. Santé Canada. (24 juin 2013). Pourcentage des adultes ayant un apport usuel de magnésium inférieur au Besoin moyen estimatif (BME) au Canada Source : http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/surveill/atlas/map-carte/adult_magnesium-fra.php
  10. Marler, J. B. et Wallin, J. R. (2006). Human health, the nutritional quality of harvested food and sustainable farming systems. Nutrition Security Institute, USA.
  11. Eby, G. A. et Eby, K. L. (2006). Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Medical hypotheses, 67(2), 362-370.
  12. Wester, P. (1987). Magnesium. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 45, 1305–1312.
  13. Durlach, J. et Bac, P. (1997). Mechanisms of action on the nervous system in magnesium deficiency and dementia. Mineral and metal neurotoxicology, 201-210.
  14. Sartori, S. B., Whittle, N., Hetzenauer, A. et Singewald, N. (2012). Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology, 62(1), 304-312.
  15. Barragán-Rodríguez, L., Rodríguez-Morán, M. et Guerrero-Romero, F. (2008). Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial. Magnesium Research, 21(4), 218-223.
  16. Cardoso, C. C., Lobato, K. R., Binfaré, R. W., Ferreira, P. K., Rosa, A. O., Santos, A. R. S. et Rodrigues, A. L. S. (2009). Evidence for the involvement of the monoaminergic system in the antidepressant-like effect of magnesium. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 33(2), 235-242.
  17. Haider, S., Sadir, S., Naqvi, F., Batool, Z., Tabassum, S., Khaliq, S., ... & Haleem, D. J. (2016). Magnesium treatment palliates noise-induced behavioral deficits by normalizing DAergic and 5-HTergic metabolism in adult male rats. Neuropharmacology, 31(4), 815-825.

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