Four ways to increase your magnesium intake and improve your mental health

What form of magnesium should you be taking (or eating), and how can you find natural sources of magnesium? Learn more with Dr. Mark Hyman.


September 12, 2022

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May 2, 2024

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Mind-Gut Connection

Does anyone else get overwhelmed in the supplement and vitamin aisle at your grocery store? You know you should be taking supplements—Vitamin D, Fiber, Calcium, Iron come to mind. With so many supplements available, it’s hard to figure out what your body might need specifically. Salvo Health can provide clarity. 

If you’re feeling more anxious lately (or like me, you’re always lowkey anxious) or you’ve spoken to your doctor about treating an anxiety disorder, magnesium supplementation might have come up in conversation as one method of treatment. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays an important role in regulating multiple body and brain functions.  50% of adults don’t consume enough magnesium in a day, which according to researchers, could lead to increased symptoms of anxiety. 

So what form of magnesium should you be taking (or eating), and how can you find natural sources of magnesium? 

Four ways to increase magnesium intake for your mental health 

  1. Speak to your doctor about treating anxiety and depression with magnesium 

Salvo Health providers would recommend seeing a doctor, or connecting with a Care Team through our app to get your blood work done and really pinpoint what’s missing from your diet, especially if you’re feeling depressed or anxious. Anxiety might include feelings of intense fear, unease, or nervousness. Maybe you’re triggered by specific events or social situations, but it can also be more general and feel constant sometimes. While you might try to ignore it or normalize your anxiety, it has been linked to high blood pressure, and a number of other adverse health effects. 

If you’re diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, your doctor might recommend a multi-pronged approach to treatment, with treatment options including…

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • An antidepressant, like an SSRI 
  • Lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise or stress-reducing activities to de-escalate one’s nervous system, or a change in your nutrition  
  • Magnesium supplementation  

It’s important to remember that you always have a choice to opt in or out of the methods of treatment recommended by your doctor, but magnesium alone might not calm your nerves as much as you would like. 

  1. Use a supplement but don’t exceed your magnesium needs 

Magnesium can be taken as a tablet, pill, powder, or liquid. 

As a collaborator in the creation of Salvo Health signature model of care Whole Self Science, Dr. Mark Hyman recommends thinking of magnesium as a “relaxation mineral,” which can tamp down stress in your day-to-day life, and improve your mental health and your sleep quality.  

In addition to helping with your anxiety, magnesium can also…

  • Ease migraines and chronic headaches
  • Improve the quality and quantity of sleep
  • Lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes 
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Ease constipation, and improve your gut health 

However, Dr. Hyman also recommends avoiding certain types of magnesium, and sticking to the recommended amount from your doctor. He says to “avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and magnesium oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).”  

If you do pick up magnesium in the supplement aisle, opt for magnesium taurate or magnesium glycinate, which are absorbed quickly from the gut and research shows they may be associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Ask your doctor how much magnesium you should be taking, but the recommended dietary allowance is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women over the age of 31.

Word to the wise: Exceeding the recommended daily allowance might impact your gut health, causing magnesium supplementation side effects of diarrhea and abdominal pain (although in some cases this may be an intended effect if magnesium is being used to treat constipation).

  1. Eat more (whole) foods with magnesium

Before you go all in on buying only foods high in magnesium, remember that balance is key, and according to Dr. Hyman, so is eating whole foods: “I think the challenge is this: Most people just need to focus on eating real food. That's really important, eating a phytochemical-rich, mineral-rich diet, and not worrying so much about crazy fad diets.”

If you’d like to add more magnesium into your diet consider stocking up on…

  • Fresh fish like wild-caught salmon or halibut 
  • Leafy greens including kale or spinach
  • Healthy fats such as avocados
  • Nuts including almonds, peanuts, cashews, or pumpkin seeds
  • Whole soy beans like edamame, or other beans such as black beans or kidney beans 
  1. Shop local or organic to ensure optimum nutrient consumption 

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices, such as the use of herbicides and pesticides, as well as synthetic fertilizers, have stripped our soil of many of its natural nutrients, depleting our food’s nutritional value. Which means when you pick out fresh spinach in the grocery store, it likely doesn’t have as much magnesium as it might have had if it were grown fifty years ago. 

If you’d like to try to find options that are more nutritious, it’s best to either A) shop local preferably, or B) purchase organic whole foods. Your local farmer’s market is a good place to pick up produce that’s in-season and grown without too much exposure to corporate farming practices. Headed into the fall season, you should be able to stock up on leafy greens locally including kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens. 

Figure out if magnesium can help your gut (and mental health) with Salvo Health 

Because 95% of serotonin, one of our most important neurotransmitters, lives in our gut, there is increasing evidence indicating that changes to our gut microbiota are related to mental health including anxiety and depression. That’s why adding magnesium, and other essential vitamins, to treat a deficiency could likely have a huge impact on both your gastrointestinal symptoms and mental health. 

Salvo Health recommends partnering with a dedicated Care Team in order to adjust your nutrition, and lifestyle, long-term. When you download the app, you’ll gain access to unlimited messaging with a doctor, who will work with you to diagnose and treat your chronic gut conditions, which can have a huge impact on your overall health. Learn more today.

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