Magnesium deficiency can cause numerous psychological changes, including depression. The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are nonspecific and include poor attention, memory loss, fear, restlessness, insomnia, tics, cramps and dizziness.20 Plasma magnesium levels have been found to be significantly lower in depressed patients than in controls.21 These levels increased significantly after recovery. In a study of more than 200 patients with depression and/or chronic pain, 75 percent had white blood cell magnesium levels below normal.22 In many of these patients, intravenous magnesium administration led to rapid resolution of symptoms. Muscle pain responded most frequently, but depression also improved.
Magnesium has also been used to treat premenstrual mood changes. In a double-blind trial, 32 women with premenstrual syndrome were randomly assigned to receive 360 mg/day of magnesium or placebo for two months.23 The treatments were given daily from day 15 of the menstrual cycle until the onset of menstruation. Magnesium was significantly more effective than placebo in relieving premenstrual symptoms related to mood changes.
These studies suggest that magnesium deficiency may be a factor in some cases of depression. Dietary surveys have shown that many Americans fail to achieve the Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium.24,25 As a result, subtle magnesium deficiency may be common in the United States. A nutritional supplement that contains 200?copy;400 mg/day of magnesium may therefore improve mood in some patients with depression.
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