Magnesium & Mental Health

Magnesium is an essential mineral for human health, lending itself to over 300 systems in the body, including regulating muscles, nerves, blood sugar and blood pressure(1)! Beyond these roles, magnesium also plays a vital role in our central nervous system, inducing cellular communication and signalling(2).

What is the link to mental health?

In 1921 magnesium became the first medically acknowledged nutrient in the treatment of depression(3), and since then there have been several studies showing the usefulness of magnesium in managing mental disorders, most notably depression. A large review found that there was a significant relationship between magnesium deficiencies and depressive symptoms, as well as positive improvements with increased dietary magnesium(2).

It is believed that one way magnesium helps with our mental health is through regulating our stress response, by controlling the overproduction of cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) commonly seen with depression and anxiety. However, when we are depleted of magnesium, this system is unable to respond appropriately to these chronic levels of high stress(3).

The average healthy adult requires about 310-400 mg of magnesium per day, with a MAXIMUM of 350 mg if coming from a supplement(1). This is because only 30-40% of dietary magnesium is absorbed into the body, whereas supplemental magnesium is much more efficiently absorbed.

Magnesium can be found fairly ubiquitously in foods with fibre (aka plant-based foods), such as nuts and seeds, leafy greens and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The following are some food sources of magnesium with their provision of this nutrient per serving(1):

  • Pumpkin seeds, 1 ounce (156 mg)

  • Chia seeds, 1 ounce (111 mg)

  • Almonds, 1 ounce (80 mg)

  • Boiled spinach, 1/2 cup (78 mg)

  • Cashews, 1 ounce (74 mg)

  • Shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits (61 mg)

  • Soy milk, 1 cup (61 mg)

  • Black beans, 1/2 cup (60 mg)

  • Oatmeal, 1/3 cup dry (36 mg)

If you feel you could benefit from a supplement, you can talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about a dose and form that is right for you. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend starting with 150 mg of magnesium bisglycinate for maximum effectiveness!

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out via email at or phone at 250-681-5170.


1National Institutes of Health. (2020). Magnesium: fact sheet for health professionals. Received from:

2Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The role and the effect of magnesium in mental disorders: a systematic review. Nutrients, 12(6), 1661. Received from:

3Greenblatt, J. M., To, W., Dimino, J. (2016). Evidence-based research on the role of zinc and magnesium deficiencies in depression. Psychiatric Times, 33(12). Received from:

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