126 People, 42 Pills
One-hundred and twenty-six people diagnosed with mild to moderate depression were each given a bottle of pills. They were told to take one tablet per day.
Two weeks later, half of those people reported feeling a little better. Four weeks after that, those same people reported feeling significantly better. The symptoms of their depression had lessened. Anxiety had decreased too. The other half of the group? No improvements at all.
So what's going on here? Well, these folks were part of a new study looking at the role magnesium plays in depression. Half of them took cheap over-the-counter magnesium and the other half, the control group, took a placebo.
Is Depression a Magnesium Deficiency?
Prescription antidepressants can be harsh, with side effects like sexual problems, emotional numbness, and suicidal thoughts being reported by about half of all users.
If those with mild symptoms can get off the prescription meds, and if those with moderate symptoms could reduce the amount they use (or avoid the need for a second med), that would be a very good thing. Is magnesium supplementation the answer?
Well, it's not as simple as "magnesium cures depression" – although some medical professionals have been making that claim since at least 1967 – but it's pretty clear that a magnesium deficiency at least exacerbates the problem.
We've known for a while that magnesium deficiency is linked to depression, anxiety, and inflammation. But this is the first randomized clinical trial to really test out magnesium's ability to reduce or control the symptoms of depression.
Perhaps not coincidentally, most people these days are at least a little deficient in magnesium, and it's estimated that 15 million American adults suffer from depression. That's almost 7% of the population.
Is this simply the result of widespread magnesium deficiency? For now, we can at least say that the two are related.
Magnesium and Muscle
Modern agriculture tends to strip out the magnesium in foods. "You can't expect to grow nutrient-rich food from nutrient-stripped soil," Brian St. Pierre said in a past T Nation article. It's even removed from our water supply during treatment. Stress also causes our bodies to "waste" magnesium.
Magnesium plays a big role in insulin sensitivity (you want that), muscle function (comes in handy) and protein synthesis (gains, bro). Since magnesium supplementation is safe and inexpensive, it only makes sense to add this to your supplement arsenal.
What Kind of Magnesium?
This study used magnesium chloride at 248 mg per day, but magnesium aspartate is a better choice (more bioavailable). If you're already taking ZMA® for its testosterone-optimizing benefits, you're getting a healthy dose of magnesium aspartate.
Related: More info on ZMA®
- Tarleton, et al. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLOS One