Provided by TAP Integrative

Magnesium is an important mineral and cofactor that impacts hundreds of metabolic reactions in the body. Researchers have found that magnesium deficiency is associated with increased symptoms of depression. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to improve major depression, as well as postpartum depression.

Researchers from the University of Vermont set out to determine if there is an association between dietary magnesium intake and depression. They used a cross-sectional, population-based data set that featured nearly 9,000 adults with a mean age of 46. Over 50 percent of the study participants were female.

After adjusting for all potential confounding factors, there was a significant association between low magnesium intake (less than 184 mg per day) and depression especially in people younger than 65. Low magnesium intake was associated with a 22% increased risk of depression in younger adults (P=.007).  There was more than a 50 percent higher rate of depression in people consuming the lowest amount of magnesium. Interestingly, the opposite was true among people over age of 65—seniors eating the lowest amount of magnesium had a 25% lower risk of depression (P=.032), suggesting a protective effect.

Magnesium deficiency is very common. In this study, more than half of the people did not consume adequate amounts of magnesium, which is consistent with other data. In addition, with age comes increased magnesium excretion and decreased absorption. Based on the findings from this study, emphasizing high magnesium foods in the diet such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, could offer some protection against depression.

The researchers were not sure why their study demonstrated a “paradox in elders.” While more research may be needed to clarify the role magnesium can play in depressed people over age 65, this study clearly shows that people under age 65 who eat a diet high in magnesium-rich foods, are less likely to experience symptoms of depression.


Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. J Am Board Fam Med. 2015;28:249-256.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.