Dennis Mangan explains why magnesium is like vitamin D and how it cures depression:
In a paper I recently came across, Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment (pdf), the author writes about several case studies in which magnesium supplements brought about a complete cure from depression, as well as better mental performance in some cases. It seems that magnesium deficiency is widespread; according to this paper, nearly 90% of the American population ingests less than the (already minimal) RDA. Add to that the fact that numerous conditions can cause a significant depletion of body magnesium, conditions such as the drinking of alcohol and catecholamine elevation caused by stress, and you’ve got the makings of a massively widespread deficiency.
Back to depression. The paper’s author found that magnesium supplementation cures major depression in as few as 7 days. There are good reasons why this should be so. Michael Maes, a “highly cited” scientist and physician, has found that pro-inflammatory cytokines may be at the root of depression, which is, in other words, a physical illness. Magnesium deficiency results in a major increase in inflammatory cytokines. For much, much more, try this Google Scholar page on magnesium and inflammation.
So why is magnesium like vitamin D? Mainly because no one thinks about it. When industrialization got going and most people started spending a great deal of their lives indoors, not a lot of thought was given to the absence of direct sunlight on the skin and what it would do to human health; as it turns out, the health consequences are serious. Likewise, it seems that in the past most people obtained dietary magnesium from hard water, which hardly anyone drinks anymore. (By the way, numerous studies have shown a substantial reduction in heart disease rates in places where hard water is drunk; see, e.g., this one from Taiwan, which found a 40% risk reduction from the water with the highest magnesium levels.) While magnesium is plentiful in certain foods, it’s not necessarily well absorbed – and in any case most people don’t get enough from food to begin with.
Magnesium deficiency is implicated, in addition to depression and heart disease, in migraine, cancer, and a horde of other bad things. Dr. Michael Eades wrote that if he could only take one supplement, it would be magnesium.