By Kelley Herring
You already know the foods you eat impact your physical health. But you might not realize the profound impact your food choices can have on your mood, emotions, and mental health.
In a previous article, I shared with you how a ketogenic diet can benefit depression. By stabilizing blood sugar, this way of eating modulates the oxidative and inflammatory responses that can hamper mood while boosting the feel-good neurotransmitter GABA.[i]
In addition to keeping inflammation and oxidation levels at bay, our brain also needs a steady supply of nutrients to function properly. In fact, patients with major depression are often lacking in an assortment of nutrients, including omega–3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and specific amino acids that act as precursors to neurotransmitters.
And while all of these nutrients are critical to keeping the brain and body in good biochemical balance, researchers discovered one “magic mineral” that can turn depression around in a matter of days…
The Role of Magnesium in Mood
You might already know of magnesium as the “relaxation mineral” due to its ability to promote deep sleep. But that is only a fraction of the critical benefits magnesium offers.
Magnesium is necessary for more than 300 functions in your body. And a deficiency in this mineral can affect virtually every bodily system. It helps regulate your heart rhythms and control blood pressure. It helps to maintain insulin sensitivity and keep your blood sugar stable. It helps to prevent the hardening of the arteries. It plays an important role in bone-building. It is vital to your immune system. It can relax cramping muscles and calm nerve impulses.
Magnesium is also vital for a healthy brain. This is because magnesium ions help to regulate nitric oxide production inside of brain cells (neurons). But when magnesium is insufficient, damage to neurons can occur, causing symptoms that manifest as “depression.”
Recent research published in Medical Hypothesis discovered that patients could “rapidly recover” from major depression with a simple daily supplement of magnesium – in as little as 7 days. In fact, the researchers found that using just 125–300 mg of magnesium (as glycinate and taurinate) with each meal and at bedtime was effective for treating depression.
What’s more, magnesium is also effective for traumatic brain injury, headache, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco abuse, hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and has even been shown to boost IQ.[ii]
It is quite clear that magnesium is critically important. And according to the National Academy of Sciences, up to 80% of the population is chronically deficient.
This epidemic of deficiency is quite concerning, especially when you consider that according to the Centers for Disease Control, magnesium levels in the population are inversely associated with death from all causes.
So, with this background, please consider some case studies related to mood and mental health:
- A 23 year-old woman suffered traumatic brain injury and lost much of her short-term memory and some of her IQ. She also became severely depressed. Concern about side effects caused her to switch to magnesium from antidepressants. She was given 200 mg of magnesium taurinate to take with each meal and at bedtime. After one week of magnesium treatment, the 23- year old woman became free of depression. Unexpectedly, her short-term memory and IQ also returned, benefits only previously shown in animals.
- A 35 year-old woman had three children, followed by severe postpartum depression (PPD) in each case. During her next pregnancy, she was given 200 mg of magnesium glycinate to take with each meal during her pregnancy, to prevent PPD. The woman had previously taken antidepressants, but did not like the side effects. She also chose to take magnesium to prevent preeclampsia, a known magnesium-deficiency condition. The woman delivered her baby on schedule without developing any aspect of postpartum depression, preeclampsia or any other illness associated with pregnancy. The baby was healthy and full weight.
- A 40 year-old man was irritable and anxious, moderately depressed, and addicted to food, tobacco, alcohol and cocaine. He took 125 mg of magnesium taurinate with each meal and at bedtime. Within one week, he was free of his symptoms and also found that his cravings for smoking, cocaine and alcohol disappeared. He also found that his ravenous appetite was suppressed, and lost weight.
- A non-drinking, 59 year-old man, with a history of depression treated with antidepressants, suddenly became extremely anxious, with insomnia, stiff muscles and suicidality. He was unresponsive to treatment with a number of antidepressants and lithium carbonate. He was given 300 mg of magnesium, as glycinate and later as taurinate, to take with each meal and at bedtime. The first night after starting magnesium, his sleep was restored essentially to normal. Within the following 4 days, depression was greatly reduced and anxiety disappeared.
A Nutrient-Dense Diet for Optimal Mental & Physical Health
Depression is a multifaceted condition. And, of course, there are many life circumstances that can cause us to feel sad from time to time. But research clearly shows that optimizing our nutrient intake is a vital step in alleviating this all-too-common mood disorder.
By choosing a nutrient-dense ancestral diet, you fortify your body with the building blocks it needs for a happy mood and a healthy, disease-free body.
And if you or a loved one is suffering from depression, consider supplementing with magnesium (200 mg of taurinate or glycinate) with meals and at bedtime to combat this deficiency and boost mental health.
Love comfort foods, but not the carbs? Check out Kelley’s FREE new book – Carb Lover’s Keto – with 100 recipes for all of your favorite comfort foods. From Chicken Parmigiana and Coconut Shrimp to Buffalo Wings and Pizza. Discover how you can indulge – 100% guilt free!
 Hartman AL, Gasior M, Vining EP, Rogawski MA. The neuropharmacology of the ketogenic diet. Pediatr Neurol. 2007;36(5):281–292. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.02.008
 Eby GA, Eby KL. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2006.01.047. Epub 2006 Mar 20. PMID: 16542786.