The Brain Benefits of Magnesium

The Brain Benefits of Magnesium

When you think of magnesium you may immediately think of supporting bone health. As it turns out, however, this mighty mineral does so much more beginning with the brain.

Magnesium and the Brain

Magnesium is vital to health as it participates in more than 300 different enzyme systems in the human body. These systems support important biochemical reactions including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, energy production, blood glucose, and blood pressure.1

Specific to the brain, magnesium supports nerve signal transmission and blood-brain barrier function, which is the brain’s filtering mechanism.2 Interestingly, with age, the brain actually shrinks. A 2023 study that looked at magnesium and the size of the brain found that the more magnesium people had in their daily diet, the less brain shrinkage occurred with age.3 

Magnesium crosses the blood-brain barrier where it can further support brain function and in particular mood. Research shows that taking magnesium as a dietary supplement can help support mood, especially in people who may not be getting enough magnesium from diet alone.4,5

Food Sources of Magnesium

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for magnesium is as follows:1




1-3 years

80 mg

80 mg

4-8 years

130 mg

130 mg

9-13 years

240 mg

240 mg

14-18 years

360 mg

410 mg

19-30 years

310 mg

400 mg

31+ years

320 mg

420 mg

Some of the best food sources of magnesium are seeds like pumpkin and chia and nuts like almonds, cashews, and roasted peanuts. Spinach, avocado, beans, and brown rice are also good sources of magnesium. Dark chocolate that is 60% to 69% cacao is another tasty source of magnesium. 

Keep in mind that only about 30% to 40% of the magnesium found in foods is absorbed by the body.1 According to the National Institutes of Health, most people in the United States are not getting enough magnesium from food.6 If you don’t feel you are getting enough magnesium from diet alone, you may want to consider taking a magnesium dietary supplement daily.

More Magnesium Please!

Magnesium supports many important biochemical processes in the brain and throughout the body. That’s why your body needs magnesium. However, even with a healthy diet sometimes it can be difficult to get enough magnesium from food because it isn’t absorbed efficiently. 

When choosing a magnesium supplement, look for high-absorption magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate is fully chelated, making it easy for the body to digest and absorb. This form of magnesium is also gentle on the stomach and suitable for vegan diets.

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  1.  National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2022;June 2.
  2.  Maier JAM, Locatelli L, Fedele G, Cazzaniga A, Mazur A. Magnesium and the Brain: A Focus on Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;24(1):223.
  3.  Alateeq K, Walsh EI, Cherbuin N. Dietary magnesium intake is related to larger brain volumes and lower white matter lesions with notable sex differences. European Journal of Nutrition. 2023;62:2039-2051.
  4.  Tarleton EK, Kennedy AG, Rose GL, et al. The association between serum magnesium levels and depression in an adult primary care population. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1475.
  5.  Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. JABFM. 2015;28(2):249-256.
  6.  National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Consumers. 2021;March 22.
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