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Trial: magnesium effective antidepressant

We recently wrote about a study in which magnesium supplementation was shown to alleviate depression. All well and good - but the researchers had not included a placebo group in the study. A minus point there. A helpful reader sent us another study on magnesium supplements and depression, with a placebo group.

Nutritionists at the Shahid Sadoughi University in Iran divided 60 people suffering from depression into two groups. During the eight weeks that the study lasted, one group took a placebo and the other took 500 mg magnesium oxide every day. The researchers used a product made by 21st Century Healthcare, an American company.

Trial: magnesium effective antidepressant

The participants had low levels of magnesium in their blood. Healthy people have somewhere between 1.7 and 2.3 mg magnesium per decilitre blood. When the study started the participants in both groups had 1.8 mg magnesium per decilitre. That's not unusual: most people in modern societies have low magnesium levels.

Adults should consume about 300-400 mg magnesium daily. But because we are eating more and more industrially processed foods that do not contain much magnesium, most people don't consume anything like this amount.

Trial: magnesium effective antidepressant

Magnesium supplementation boosted the participants' magnesium levels - but not above the normal levels. [Table]

The researchers used the Beck Depression Inventory-II questionnaire to determine the severity of depression and observed that the severity decreased in both groups. However, the decrease in the magnesium group (16 points) was significantly bigger than in the placebo group (10 points).

Trial: magnesium effective antidepressant

The average change in the placebo group was from moderate to light depression, and in the magnesium group moderate depression cleared up altogether.

Possible mechanism
"Magnesium has a pivotal role in synaptic function, especially in the brain's hippocampus neurons," the researchers wrote. "In addition to being an inhibitory regulator in NMDA channels, magnesium has also an excitatory effect on production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein in the brain."

"Cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein is a protein that regulates the activity of the genes affecting the function of human brain, especially the genes involved in the production of dopamine. BDNF is a neurotropic factor widely expressed in the central nervous system, playing an important role in the evolution of brain, survival, and maintenance of neurons."

"Furthermore, BDNF also has a role in inhibition of NMDA channels."

"In some studies, increased expression of the BDNF gene has been observed after treatment with electric shock and some antidepressants. Therefore, magnesium can be effective in improving depression."

"This study indicated that daily consumption of 500 mg magnesium oxide tablet for 8 weeks by individuals with depression and hypomagnesemia results in improvement in both the depression and the status of magnesium in their bodies," the researchers wrote. "Therefore, when evaluating patients with depression, evaluation of the serum magnesium status and resolving this deficiency, if present, contribute to better treatment outcomes and thus are recommended."

Nutrition. 2017 Mar;35:56-60.

Magnesium is an antidepressant 12.08.2017


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