Using Magnesium to Treat Neurological Syndromes - magnesium benefits

Using Magnesium to Treat Neurological Syndromes

Tara McLoughlin Neurological & Emotional Health, Nutrition, Supplementation 15 Comments

How important is Magnesium?

magnesium benefits importance

In short, magnesium is critically important to a healthy, happy body and mind.  Here’s why.  Magnesium is a metal; a mineral that is essential to our bodies.  In this context, essential means that we require it but can’t make it on our own, so we need to get it from external sources.  

It is essential (here’s that word again) to, literally, hundreds of biochemical processes.  Things like:

  • Balancing glucose (sugar) and hormonal activity
  • Supporting neurotransmitter (dopamine, serotonin etc.), enzyme and mitochondrial (cell battery pack) protein needs
  • Making DNA, RNA (copy of DNA), glutathione (antioxidant) and ATP (most basic form of gas for our bodies)
  • Delivering other nutrients to their final destinations within the body such as calcium to the bones

All of these processes are pretty important, wouldn’t you agree?  Remember when I said magnesium is essential to hundreds of processes?  Yeah, you get the picture.

What happens when you are deficient?

When you are deficient in magnesium, bad things happen.  It’s important to know that the effects of magnesium deficiency are cumulative, so not getting enough on a daily basis will compound both the severity and number of symptoms you may experience.  Low magnesium is associated with the following symptoms and conditions.

    • Anxiety
    • Loss of focus
    • Poor memory
    • Moodiness & some forms of Depression
    • Muscle cramps
    • Weak bones (transport mechanism for calcium)
    • DNA damage
    • Increased aging
    • Hypertension
    • Cardiovascular conditions
    • Headaches

While I realize that these symptoms can be related back to several causes, it’s worth pointing out that the evidence indicates the U.S. population is as much as 70% deficient in magnesium.  As far as troubleshooting these symptoms, adding good sources of magnesium to your diet should be the first thing that you do.

Magnesium Benefits

Magnesium Benefits Image

Having optimal magnesium benefits us in a variety of ways.

    • Has a calming effect
    • Improves mood
    • Significantly improves concentration and focus (helps with ADHD)
    • Better memory (my experience short term memory has greatly improved)
    • Supports muscle health
    • Strengthens bones (transports calcium to the bones)
    • Can lower cholesterol

A few years ago, I was taking three different medications for ADHD and moodiness.  Now, I take none.  Understanding my magnesium deficiency and correcting it played a huge role in me being healthier and ultimately being able to stop the medication.  Read my article ‘Naturally stop using prescription drugs’ for the story on how I did it!

4 Crucial Things you want to know about Magnesium

#1 - Watch out for medications that deplete magnesium stores.

As you can imagined, most General Practitioners are not aware when a drug they prescribe impacts your micro-nutrients.  You have to be an educated consumer! Asking your doctor how a new medication will impact your nutrition should be one of the first questions on your list!

Here are just a few examples of such medication.  This list is far from being all inclusive!

    • Stimulants
    • Proton uptake inhibitors
    • HIV Meds

#2 - Know which foods contains magnesium and eat them!

One of the challenges with getting enough magnesium is that we typically don’t eat enough of the foods that contain it.  For the most part, you will find magnesium in green leafy vegetables and a variety of nuts & seeds.  Given that we need at, minimum, 300-400 mg per day, you can see how it would be difficult to eat enough of these foods to satisfy the minimum requirement.

#3 - You will almost assuredly need a magnesium supplement.

As mentioned, above, it is hard to get enough magnesium from food, so supplementing is a must.  Having a good quality supplement is super important.  Read my article Vitamin Supplements, What you need to know for information on how to select a high quality supplement.  

I have experience with two brands of magnesium supplements.   If you have a favorite supplement brand then I recommend you going with what you know.  Vitamin supplements are not heavily regulated so, again, you have to be a smart consumer.  

Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium is a good quality supplement.  Because it is chelated, it is high absorption.  It is good value as it is less expensive than many other brands.  These come in 100 mg tablets so you can choose your dosage based on how much you think you are getting from food.  This is the brand I started off taking and still recommend it for someone on a tight budget.

I have since graduated to Pure Encapsulations brand Magnesium Glycinate.  What I like about this brand is they are very well known for their best in class quality.  They are certified free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary fillers.  

Magnesium is unstable on it’s own so all supplements are bonded to another molecule.  What it is paired with matters.  Without getting into the intricacies of this process, this particular product is bound to glycinate.  Glycine, itself, is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation. So, in effect, combining these two enhances the natural calming properties of the magnesium.  

Because of the extremely high quality of the Pure Encapsulations brand Magnesium Glycinate product, it costs a little more than the Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium but still reasonable, in my opinion.

#4 - My daily strategy for taking magnesium supplements.

I take a few supplements, daily, and this is one of them.  I take one tablet in the morning as soon as I wake up, typically, between 7-8 AM.  Then around 2 PM, I will take one or two more depending on my stress level.  Because cortisol chews through magnesium, you will want to increase your dose if you are having an unusually stressful day.  

Many people find it beneficial to take magnesium before bed as it works wonders with sleep quality.  Since my stores are healthy, I don’t need to do this as often.  

There you have it.  I swear by magnesium.  If I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one supplement, it would be this.  

Take care and, as always, stay healthy!

*Remember to check with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.

**These claims have not be evaluated by the Food and Drug Association.

Magnesium is critical in preventing neurological syndromes such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and others. Magnesium benefits include promoting calmness, improving attention and focus as well as improved mood but as many as 70% of us are deficient! #magnesium #anxiety #depression #adhd #improvefocus #calm

Comments 15

  1. Where can the brands that you recommend be found

    1. Post

      Hi Sandra – Both of the brands can be found on Amazon for sure. You can click through the links for get to the appropriate product pages. Of course they are both well known brands so you may find them in your local drug store like Walgreens or CVS, etc. For convenience here are the two links directly to the Amazon site. Pure Encapsulations and Doctor’s Best. Hope this helps!

      1. what about double woods brand? mag chloride

  2. What happens when you intake to much tho? If a person already had a healthy balance will this be negative for their mental and body state to induce something they already have a healthy balance of

    1. Post

      Hi Brittani –

      Yes, a person can overdose on magnesium. The typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. For people without kidney disease, overdosing is pretty tough though, because the kidneys work to process excess magnesium and they do it pretty efficiently. According to the NIH, the recommended daily doses of magnesium are:

      Infants–6 months: 30 milligrams
      7–12 months: 75 milligrams
      1–3 years: 80 milligrams
      4–8 years: 130 milligrams
      9–13 years: 240 milligrams
      14–18 years: 410 milligrams for men; 360 milligrams for women
      19–30 years: 400 milligrams for men; 310 milligrams for women
      Adults 31 years and older: 420 milligrams for men; 320 milligrams for women
      Pregnant women: 350–360 milligrams
      Women who are breastfeeding: 310–320 milligrams

      When taking a supplement, it is important to understand how much of the vitamin/mineral you are getting from food so you can just focus on making up the difference. It’s also important to balance your vitamins and minerals. That is why I take a liquid multivitamin as a base, then supplement with magnesium daily. I take other supplements such as calcium, zinc, vitamin D and potassium only as needed depending on the time of the year or my diet.

      I hope this helps!


  3. Hey Tara,
    Thanks for the article—I have a 4 yr old and am wondering if you have a brand suggestion for him. I saw in your reply to Brittani you listed age/dosage amounts and I appreciate that, but wondering if there is a good chewable supplement for him…

    1. Post

      Hi Shannon –

      While I have not have personal experience with giving this particular brand to my kids, I have heard a lot of good things about it. It’s called Child Life and you can find it here, It’s somewhat of a multi, which I think is important for everyone, but especially children. It includes calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and zinc…A really good combination. Balance is important! As always, you can talk to your pediatrician about product recommendation also. I now you asked for a chewable form. Chewables tend to not have as good of an absorption rate. The Child Life brand has chewable versions of probiotics and DHA, but nothing from a multi or magnesium standpoint. I have to think there is a good reason why given their reputation. This liquid is orange flavored and seems to be received well by kids.

      Hope this helps. Thanks.


  4. Thanks for this, I have previously experienced symptoms of magnesium deficiency with anxiety,hypertension and muscle cramps. I have since increased ten-fold the amount of greens I eat especially spinach and leafy vegetables and find it helps a great amount.

    1. Post

      Good to hear Stephen. Nutrition is the key to health, in my opinion. If you can eats nuts, almonds are a big source of magnesium also.


  5. Hi, so I’m actually reading that it helps with ADHD too?? I’ve been wanting to get my almost 20 year old son off marination for YEARS!! This is great to hear that something else, better by far will help him. He hates being on Adderal. It makes him tired and not hungry, however if he doesn’t take it, he’s a totally different and over the top with energy type of guy.
    I’m willing and I know my son is willing to try ANYTHING else besides medication!! Really, does taking Magnesium work?? I’m in awe!! Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Post

      Hi Michelle –

      I can’t speaking for all types of ADHD but it works for me. I have an article, one of my firsts, that explains how I did it. Magnesium played a huge part. I will warn you, however, that once someone has been on a medication, it takes several months for their brain to get back to ground zero (pre-medication) and start producing the dopamine and the like on it’s own. I used natural amino acid supplements like 5-HTP and GABA to help raise my neurotransmitter levels during this time. I still take 5-HTP, daily. The key with magnesium is getting a high quality supplement. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either.

      A poor diet can really hurt attention and focus, also. Get him on whole foods and off of the process crap. There are so many chemicals in the processed food these days that we are not designed to eat.

      Let me know how it goes and good luck!

      – Tara

  6. Thank you! Thank you! 🙂 We’re both pretty excited about him starting a new healthy way of life. He’s ready! I’ll let you know how things are going in about 3 months! 🙂 Fingers crossed!

  7. What is the difference between magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate? I have been taking the citrate version.

    1. Post

      Hi Pamela. Magnesium is best absorbed with blended with another compound but in doing so, changes the way it works for you. Citrate is an acid naturally found in fruits. When combined with magnesium, it works great for constipation and can have mild calming properties. Citrate is often artificially produced and added to food as a preservative or flavor enhancer. Glycine is an amino acid that assists with protein construction and has all types of good healthy benefits on its own such inflammation reduction and better diabetes control. When added to magnesium, the resulting compound is very powerful and can help with symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression and stress. The latter is my go to version.