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Magnesium Shows Promise for Treating Mild-Moderate Depression

Magnesium Shows Promise for Treating Mild-Moderate Depression

A reported 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, and current pharmacological approaches using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) carry a hefty price tag and the risk of side effects.

A recent study published in the journal PLoS One, shows that over-the-counter magnesium appears safe and effective to treat mild to moderate depression.

Magnesium is an important element for body functions as heart rhythm, blood pressure, and bone strength. Moreover, the mineral magnesium plays a role in combating inflammation in the body and has been proven to have an association with depression.

However, until now, few clinical trials have studied the supplement’s effects.

Emily Tarleton, M.S., R.D., C.D., a graduate student in Clinical and Translational Science and the bionutrition research manager in the University of Vermont’s Clinical Research Center, and colleagues conducted a clinical trial of over-the-counter oral magnesium tablets for mild-to-moderate depression.

Their results showed that magnesium is safe and effective and comparable to prescription SSRI treatments in effectiveness.

Researchers conducted an open-label, blocked, randomized cross-over trial involving 126 adults in outpatient primary care clinics. Study participants, who were currently experiencing mild-to-moderate depression, had a mean age of 52, with 38 percent of them male.

Participants in the active arm of the study received 248 milligrams of elemental magnesium per day over six weeks, while those in the control arm received no treatment. Depression symptom assessments were conducted on all participants on a bi-weekly basis.

The study team found that in 112 participants with analyzable data, consumption of magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in a clinically significant improvement in measures of depression and anxiety symptoms.

In addition, these positive effects were shown quickly, at two weeks, and the supplements were well-tolerated and similarly effective regardless of age, sex, or use of antidepressants, among other factors.

“This is the first randomized clinical trial looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on symptoms of depression in U.S. adults,” Tarleton said.

“The results are very encouraging, given the great need for additional treatment options for depression, and our finding that magnesium supplementation provides a safe, fast, and inexpensive approach to controlling depressive symptoms.”

Tarleton and colleagues say the next step is to see if their promising results can be replicated in a larger, more diverse population.

Source: Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont/EurekAlert

Magnesium Shows Promise for Treating Mild-Moderate Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Magnesium Shows Promise for Treating Mild-Moderate Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 29 Jun 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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