Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in our bodies, being used in over 300 chemical reactions. It plays an essential role in maintaining our physical and mental health, as it helps regulate mood, memory, cognitive function, and many other neurological processes. Magnesium deficiencies are common in developed countries, and have been linked to a wide range of physical and mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, cognitive and memory issues. Let’s take a closer look at how magnesium works and how it can help improve your mental health.
How Does Magnesium Work?
Magnesium works by affecting different neurotransmitters that are responsible for carrying signals from one neuron to another. In particular, magnesium acts on the benzodiazepine receptors (GABA-A), similar to the sedative and anti-anxiety drug diazepam (Valium®)  However, there are no studies showing dependency or withdrawal syndromes from magnesium supplementation.
Furthermore, magnesium can also increase serotonin levels which help boost mood and feelings of well-being. 
One further mechanism of magnesium is that it is an NMDA (glutamate) receptor antagonist, ligands of which have been shown to produce antidepressant effects in humans.  This particular mechanism is a field of intense ongoing research. Treatment clinics that are now using the newly approved rapid acting antidepressant drug ketamine, which is an NMDA antagonist, are now gaining traction in the western world. This may also be an option for Treatment Resistant Depression, however expensive. It is suggested that before going that route, you give the much cheaper and more natural magnesium a try!
Different Forms of Magnesium
There are several forms of magnesium available on the market today each with their own unique benefits.
Magnesium L-threonate has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing brain levels of magnesium due to its specific molecular structure which allows easier absorption through the blood-brain-barrier into the brain and into the body’s cells. This form is best for alleviating anxiety as well as for cognitive and memory improvements. It is best taken in the morning or during the day.
The 2 forms Magnesium Glycinate and Taurate are also well regarded for increasing the brains levels of magnesium along with the calming effects of the amino acids they are bound to, which are Glycine and Taurine that have their own calming effects on the central nervous system and are particularly good for anxiety, before bed for increased sleep quality and to alleviate insomnia.
Effectiveness for Major Depression
While traditional treatments for Major Depression are unfortunately only effective in a fraction of cases (around 40%), recent research has uncovered the potential role that magnesium deficiency may play. Found largely removed from processed foods in Western cultures – a likely factor to be considered when examining this mental health crisis we face – magnesium deficiencies result in dysfunction which can lead many down an unfortunate path towards Major Depression or Treatment-Resistant Depression.
A 2008 randomized clinical study showed magnesium was as beneficial as the traditional drug imipramine.  What’s fascinating? This powerful nutrient not only may terminate Major Depression without side effects, but it can also prevent or reduce lower serotonin levels caused by inadequate dietary Mg intake—which appears to play a crucial role in major depressive disorder. It was found that traditional antidepressants actually increase the brains magnesium content which correlates with reduced depression. It’s also been established that Cerebral Spinal Fluid Magnesium levels have been consistently observed as lower than average among suicidal Treatment Resistant Depression patients. 
Magnesium Deficiency Worldwide
Unfortunately, most people around the world are deficient in this essential mineral due to poor diets or inadequate intake from food sources alone. This deficiency can lead to a variety of physical and mental health problems such as poor sleep quality, anxiety or depression symptoms etc., making it even more important for us to make sure we get enough magnesium through dietary sources or supplements if needed. One can even take frequent baths with epsom salts to increase their body’s magnesium levels because that’s what epsom salts are! (Magnesium Sulfate)
With all this information about magnesium at hand, now you will hopefully understand why it is so important and why deficiency is so common worldwide. Consider that modern farming methods deplete soils which lead to less minerals being available in our food sources than ever before. Furthermore by understanding how different forms work you can take steps towards improving your physical & mental health by taking the appropriate supplements (and by eating foods rich in magnesium) based on your individual needs & goals. So don’t underestimate this essential mineral – it could make all the difference when it comes to your wellbeing!