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  • Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, keeps the heart beat steady, and helps bones remain strong. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein. There is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • It is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes. Magnesium is involved in many physiologic pathways, including energy production, nucleic acid and protein synthesis, ion transport, cell signaling, and also has structural functions.

1: Magnesium Deficiency and Anxiety

Neuropharmacology. Jan 2012; 62(1): 304–312.

Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment

S.B. Sartori, N. Whittle, A. Hetzenauer, and N. Singewald


Preclinical and some clinical studies suggest a relationship between perturbation in magnesium (Mg2+) homeostasis and pathological anxiety, although the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. Since there is evidence that Mg2+ modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, we tested whether enhanced anxiety-like behaviour can be reliably elicited by dietary Mg2+ deficiency and whether Mg2+ deficiency is associated with altered HPA axis function. Compared with controls, Mg2+ deficient mice did indeed display enhanced anxiety-related behaviour in a battery of established anxiety tests. The enhanced anxiety-related behaviour of Mg2+ deficient mice was sensitive to chronic desipramine treatment in the hyponeophagia test and to acute diazepam treatment in the open arm exposure test. Mg2+ deficiency caused an increase in the transcription of the corticotropin releasing hormone in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN), and elevated ACTH plasma levels, pointing to an enhanced set-point of the HPA axis. Chronic treatment with desipramine reversed the identified abnormalities of the stress axis. Functional mapping of neuronal activity using c-Fos revealed hyper-excitability in the PVN of anxious Mg2+ deficient mice and its normalisation through diazepam treatment. Overall, the present findings demonstrate the robustness and validity of the Mg2+ deficiency model as a mouse model of enhanced anxiety, showing sensitivity to treatment with anxiolytics and antidepressants. It is further suggested that dysregulations in the HPA axis may contribute to the hyper-emotionality in response to dietary induced hypomagnesaemia.

2: Clinical Study Reviews:

Inadequate magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels, and antidepressants have been shown to raise brain magnesium. A 2008 study found that magnesium was as effective as the tricyclic antidepressants in treating depression among people with diabetes.

Several studies show that intravenous (IV) magnesium and magnesium inhaled through a nebulizer can help treat acute attacks of asthma in children 6 - 18 years of age, as well as adults. But there is no evidence that taking oral magnesium helps control asthma symptoms. Low levels of magnesium may increase risk of developing asthma. A population based clinical study of more than 2,500 children 11 - 19 years of age found that low dietary magnesium intake may be associated with risk of asthma. The same was found in a group of more than 2,600 adults 18 - 70 years of age.

Magnesium is essential to heart health. Studies suggest a possible association between a modestly lower risk of CHD in men and increased magnesium intake. In one study of women, higher dietary intakes of magnesium were associated with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death. Magnesium helps maintain a normal heart rhythm and is sometimes given intravenously (IV) in the hospital to reduce the chance of atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). People with congestive heart failure (CHF) are often at risk for developing cardiac arrhythmia. For this reason, your doctor may decide that magnesium should be a part of the treatment of CHF. One well designed study found that taking magnesium orotate for a year reduced symptoms and improved survival rates compared to placebo in people with CHF. Magnesium and calcium work together at very precise ratios to ensure your heart functions properly. If you have a cardiac history, talk to your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.

Eating low fat dairy products, along with lots of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, is associated with lower blood pressure. All of these foods are rich in magnesium, as well as calcium and potassium. A large clinical study of more than 8,500 women found that a higher intake of dietary magnesium may decrease the risk of high blood pressure in women. A few studies also suggest that magnesium supplements may help lower blood pressure, although not all studies agree.

3: Magnesium and Insomnia

Journal of the American Geriatric Society: 2011 Jan;59(1): 82-90

The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Monteferrario F, Antoniello N, Manni R, Klersy C.


OBJECTIVES: To determine whether nightly administration of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc improves primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents.

DESIGN: Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

SETTING: One long-term care facility in Pavia, Italy.

PARTICIPANTS: Forty-three participants with primary insomnia (22 in the supplemented group, 21 in the placebo group) aged 78.3 ± 3.9.

INTERVENTION: Participants took a food supplement (5 mg melatonin, 225 mg magnesium, and 11.25 mg zinc, mixed with 100 g of pear pulp) or placebo (100 g pear pulp) every day for 8 weeks, 1 hour before bedtime.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary goal was to evaluate sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale, the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire (LSEQ), the Short Insomnia Questionnaire (SDQ), and a validated quality-of-life instrument (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Survey (SF-36)) were administered as secondary end points. Total sleep time was evaluated using a wearable armband-shaped sensor. All measures were performed at baseline and after 60 days.

RESULTS: The food supplement resulted in considerably better overall PSQI scores than placebo (difference between groups in change from baseline PSQI score=6.8; 95% confidence interval=5.4-8.3, P<.001). Moreover, the significant improvements in all four domains of the LSEQ (ease of getting to sleep, P<.001; quality of sleep, P<.001; hangover on awakening from sleep, P=.005; alertness and behavioral integrity the following morning, P=.001), in SDQ score (P<.001), in total sleep time (P<.001), and in SF-36 physical score (P=.006) suggest that treatment had a beneficial effect on the restorative value of sleep.

CONCLUSION: The administration of nightly melatonin, magnesium, and zinc appears to improve the quality of sleep and the quality of life in long-term care facility residents with primary insomnia.

© 2011, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2011, The American Geriatrics Society

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