The connection between magnesium and brain health

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in blood pressure control, insulin signaling, and muscle contractions, but what about cognition? From easing migraines to boosting energy, here is how magnesium can contribute to brain health.

Did you know that stress, cognition, and your overall health are connected? 73% of Americans have cited stress as negatively impacting their mental health, and while occasional stress is normal, chronic stress can lead to a decrease in sleep quality, increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, and further deteriorate cognitive function [



While there are many lifestyle interventions to combat stress and boost brain health, science suggests that what you eat (and supplement) can also play a role. Here’s what you need to know about magnesium and its impact on cognitive health, stress levels, and sleep quality.

What is magnesium? 


is an essential mineral involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions in the body and contributes to bone health, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and disease prevention [



You can find magnesium in dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains [



How much should you consume per day? 

The recommended daily intakes of magnesium are as follows [



  • Men and women 9-13 years: 240 mg/day

  • Men 14-18 years: 410 mg/day

  • Women 14-18 years: 360 mg/day. If pregnant or lactating, intake increases slightly to 400 mg/day. 

  • Men 19-30 years: 400 mg/day 

  • Women 19-30 years: 310 mg/day. If pregnant or lactating, intake increases slightly to 350 mg/day. 

  • Men 31 years or older: 420 mg/day 

  • Women 31 years or older: 320 mg/day. If pregnant or lactating, intake increases slightly to 360 mg/day. 

If you’re confused about how much magnesium to take, there’s no need to worry. At Elo, we take the guesswork out of the equation by overlaying your blood biomarker results, wearable data, and questionnaire answers to recommend the right nutrition and supplements for you. Your personalized daily smart supplement pack contains custom-dosed nutrients selected for your biomarkers, health data, and goals, based on the latest available science. Moreover, Elo’s formulary includes over 60 nutrients (including magnesium), all of which undergo rigorous

third-party testing


Try Elo out for yourself today!

Foods high in magnesium

Magnesium deficiency

Research shows magnesium deficiency is associated with lower cognitive health (like insomnia, and anxiety), chronic pain, poor appetite, lack of sleep, and trouble concentrating [







It is estimated that 60% of the United States adult population is magnesium deficient, with the following populations being at risk for deficiency [




  • Athletes

  • People with more active lifestyles

  • People with gastrointestinal diseases (ex., Crohn’s disease and celiac disease) 

  • Individuals with type 2 diabetes

  • Individuals who are alcohol dependence

  • Older adults

Health benefits of magnesium for cognition 

Research shows that magnesium is intimately connected to our brain’s biochemistry, so here is a closer look at how this mineral can help boost cognition. 


Magnesium deficiency is tied to some common characteristics of depression, including an inability to fall asleep, trouble concentrating, and low appetite [







As such, studies suggest that magnesium supplementation may be able to treat symptoms of depression. One clinical trial found that men who took 248 mg/day of magnesium chloride for 6 weeks showed significant improvement in symptoms of depression compared to those who didn’t take magnesium [


]. Other studies have also linked magnesium intake with better depression care [



However, it’s important to note that magnesium is not a solution to depression, and depression care should be led by a healthcare professional.

Anxious woman sitting on ground with hands on chest


Research indicates that magnesium supplementation can help treat symptoms of anxiety, such as having trouble relaxing, being easily irritable, and being unable to control worrying [






]. However, experts agree that more research is needed to solidify this magnesium’s treatment of anxiety. 

Like depression, magnesium is not a solution to anxiety, and anxiety health concerns should be addressed by a healthcare professional. 

Stress management 

Magnesium deficiency and stress have very similar symptoms, including fatigue, mild nervousness, muscle tension, irritability, and lack of energy [





Based on this relationship, some research shows that magnesium deficiency can make your body more susceptible to stress [


]. This may increase the likelihood of chronic stress and subsequently decrease brain health and impair cognition (such as working memory and attention) [


]. Chronic stress can also

have a negative effect

on your body's inflammatory markers, immune system, and heart health, and may lead to elevated blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attacks.  


Studies have found a positive association between magnesium supplementation (320-900 mg/day) and sleep quality in healthy adults [


]. Furthermore, magnesium is shown to be a muscle relaxant, which can also help you fall asleep faster [



However, more research is needed on the link between magnesium and sleep to ensure its effectiveness. 


Science suggests that magnesium can play a large role in migraine management. Research in this area needs more development, but studies show that 600-1,830 mg of magnesium/day can lead to a significant decrease in migraine frequency, severity, and duration [









3 easy ways to incorporate more magnesium into your diet

Ensuring you get sufficient magnesium in your diet can potentially decrease symptoms associated with depression and anxiety, as well as boost cognitive health. Here are 3 simple ways to incorporate more magnesium into your diet. 

Pick a good salad base. 

Dark leafy greens (like spinach and swiss chard) are excellent sources of magnesium [


]. One cup of spinach or swiss chard both have about 30 mg of magnesium and can make a great base for salads topped with fruits, vegetables, and proteins [



Seeds in jars spilled on counter top (almonds, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, buckwheat)

Add some crunch.

Sprinkle seeds or nuts (such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, or almonds) on top of your salad or yogurt bowl to add texture, flavor, and nutrients. A handful of nuts can also be a great magnesium-packed snack [



Take a magnesium supplement. 

Taking a magnesium supplement is arguably the fastest and easiest way to meet your needs. While many types of magnesium can be used in supplements, not all of them may produce the health effects that you are looking for. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking a magnesium supplement so they can help determine which type is best for you.  


Magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to bone health, protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and disease prevention. Science also indicates that it can be an important player in brain health, as it might address symptoms of anxiety and depression, manage migraines, aid with sleep, and reduce stress levels.

Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, so it’s important to make sure you incorporate magnesium-rich foods in your diet or are taking the appropriate supplement to help meet your needs.

Key takeaways 

  • Magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to bone health, muscle and nerve function, and disease prevention.

  • Most of the United States population is magnesium deficient.

  • Studies show that magnesium can boost cognitive function, increase sleep quality, decrease occasions and severity of migraines, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and promote concentration. 

  • You can get magnesium through dietary sources or targeted supplementation. 


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