Think about magnesium, and you'll probably think about a supplement that is good for sleep with a side of relaxation, but what many people don't know is that magnesium is actually referred to as the 'Master Mineral' within the health world and it’s major for our mental health and managing it. It's a mineral that plays so many vital roles in the body, including:
- Being a cofactor that helps to make more than 300 enzymes in the body (basically it's a building block for the rest of our body);
- Supporting intracellular transmission across the body;
- Regulating the creation and transmission of neurotransmitters (which drive how we FEEL);
- Building synapses in our brain & keeping them functioning;
- Managing our stress levels; and more.
As well as these tons of benefits of magnesium with the body, the connection between magnesium and stress and mental health is a very important one to understand - and one that is often overlooked.
The connection between Magnesium & Stress
It is now believed that there is a two-way relationship (known as a bidirectional one) between magnesium levels and stress. It's thought that low magnesium levels (basically being deficient) increase the body's vulnerability to stress, and high levels of stress also impact the levels of magnesium in the body). This means that low magnesium, or states of magnesium deficiency, can exacerbate periods or states of stress, with the stress further driving down the levels of magnesium in the body. A vicious cycle.
Magnesium is also thought to modulate, manage and interact with the HPA axis (known as the hypothalamic-pituitary axis), and this HPA axis plays a role in anxiety-related behavior and the way that we feel.
On the topic of magnesium, the HPA axis and anxiety, a recent study in mice has proven that low magnesium levels have been associated with an increasingly stressed and upregulated stress system - supported by the identification of hormones that support this hypothesis. So, magnesium deficiency can equal anxiety and poor mental health states. Other studies have also shown that magnesium is shown to reduce over-excitability in neurons in the body by interacting with receptor activity. Calm, anyone?
A 2011 study also looked at the effects of increased brain magnesium and its impact on fear, fear extinction, anxiety and PTSD etc. The study concluded the power that brain magnesium may play in cases where cognitive therapies cannot treat a condition.
So, magnesium is called the master mineral for a reason and the power it holds in the fight against so many different types of health challenges is awesome.
Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, chloride, lactate, taurate, and so many more? Confusing hey?
There are lots of different types of magnesium that are good for different types of health issues and understanding what magnesium we NEED for our own personalized health challenges is a really smart way to start to help our body with what it needs the most. Head here for ten of the most popular magnesium supplements and the conditions that they help with the most.
Across all magnesium types though, even if you identify and select one that is well tailored to your wellbeing regime and health needs, there is another challenge with magnesium and that is that most magnesiums do not readily cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that the absorption and availability of magnesium can get negatively impacted, which can drive the cycle we spoke about earlier. More stress, less magnesium, more chaos!
One of our favorite types of magnesium flies heavily under the radar. It's been researched, created and formulated by a team of scientists and neuroscience researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tsinghua University in Beijing.
This type of magnesium is known as magnesium l-threonate and it has been created by binding magnesium to a vitamin c metabolite known as l-threonate so it makes a little pair. This type of magnesium has gone largely un discussed so far so you’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard of it.
This magnesium l-threonate is really powerful - particularly in terms of the function it has on the brain and our mental health.
Magnesium l-threonate has a really cool ability (unlike other magnesium) to increase magnesium *within* the brain - because adding magnesium to the Lt-hreonate molecule helps to transport the magnesium across the blood brain barrier (the protective filter that keeps bad things out of the brain);
As well as this major point of differentiation to other magnesiums, it is thought there are tons of other key benefits to this type of magnesium -
- The L-threonate part of the magnesium l-threonate is an amino acid that is thought to increase the power produced from our cells (through enhancing mitochondrial power and function);
- The combination magnesium and the l-threonate also creates a magnesium that increases the creation of new neurons and synapses in the brain (known as the process of neuroplasticity); and
- On top of helping to build new synapses, magnesium l-threonate also increases BDNF in the brain, a protein that also stimulates the creation of new brain cells.
So, this combination is POWERFUL - not only for the way it can move, but also the power it can have inside of our brain. On top of that, it is also understood that there is a correlation between levels of inflammation in the body and mental health states and magnesium l-threonate can be powerful here too.
Research shows that the response of the immune system impacts the brain, but that taking magnesium l-threonate can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain too - so, this magnesium is thought to positively impact our oxidative stress and inflammation in our brains, helping to take us towards a more balanced, less-inflamed state of mental health.
Magnesium threonate also is thought to modulate GABA activity in the brain and thus can have a significant effect on anxiety and reducing anxiety .
As well as helping with anxiety, this type of magnesium is also a very potent inhibitor of glutamate receptors called NMDA. By inhibiting receptors in this way, it is thought to exert a significant antidepressant effect in the brain.
Right now, there is only one clinical trial on humans about the impact of magnesium l-threonate, linked here for you, on the power of magnesium l-threonate and the hypothesis and claims about it. The study completed involves older adults who were having problems with things like anxiety, mental health, sleep, concentration, and memory.
The researchers gave them doses of the new magnesium l-threonate for 12 weeks and the results aligned with those of magnesium l-threonate studies in the animal trials. The human study showed that intake of magnesium l-threonate increased magnesium levels INSIDE the brain and human brain cells - confirming what was thought that this new combination of magnesium and the vitamin C metabolite can pass INTO the brain across the blood-brain barrier and then go on to do it's magic in there.
As well as the impact in the brain, everyone in the study performed better in all areas of cognitive ability and function than they did pre-study but on top of that, maybe the coolest part of the conclusion is that this new magnesium significantly reduced the biological brain age of the participants - by a crazy 9.4 years.
What this means is that magnesium l-threonate has been shown to play a key role in brain plasticity, as well as improving long term, short term memory, improving cognitive function and reversing brain age.
That in itself shows what a powerhouse of a new supplement this one can be.
So, right now, very few magnesium supplements on the market contain this type of magnesium l-threonate - but keep an eye out for it, because I predict that this will be everywhere in the coming months, years and decades. It’s going to pick up speed. My advice is to make sure to look for MAGTEIN Trademark magnesium when choosing a magnesium l-threonate.
Like with anything, always be sure to talk with your doctor or medical practitioner before self-dosing, just so you can get the dosage right and ensure that it's a good fit for you? But for me? Magnesium is a huge part of my daily routine so I'm excited to give this a go.
Let me know if you try it out.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST****