Fuel your brain for a longer, happier life


I’ve previously written about how magnesium can treat severe depression and anxiety. A new review article poses a hypothesis on why magnesium works for depression and anxiety while common antidepressant medications seem to be less effective.

Mitochondria and aging

We are realizing more and more the importance of the mitochondria in proper cellular function. Mitochondria are the power plants that provide energy for nearly every cell in your body. As you age, your mitochondria become less effective at producing energy and more susceptible to oxidative damage when they do. So when the mitochondria provide your cells with less energy, your cells function more poorly.

That’s why we’re seeing mitochondrial dysfunction play a role in all kinds of diseases associated with aging from heart disease to dementia.

Your brain is a high energy user

Your brain requires about 20 times more energy than the rest of your body by weight, and it also has a surprisingly small amount of stored glycogen. As the review points out, mitochondrial dysfunction is a common factor in many brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mitochondrial biogenesis (the making of more mitochondria) is required for neuroplasticity (the ability for the brain to change and learn). This ability also seems to be impaired in depressed patients.

Perhaps antidepressants target wrong symptom

When it comes to the biology of depression, we’ve assumed low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are partially to blame. Many antidepressants target low serotonin levels, but their varying degrees of success call into question if low serotonin causes depression. Antidepressants actually raise serotonin levels within days, but it takes weeks for depressive symptoms to decrease. It also seems to be completely ineffective in 40 percent of people. Authors of the review hope that targeting mitochondrial dysfunction might provide a more effective target.


I still recommend magnesium

I’ve previously recommended magnesium as a cheap way to treat depression and anxiety and this latest review confirms why it works. It’s also an excellent supplement for athletic performance for the same reason. Magnesium is requires to repair mitochondria as they suffer oxidative damage during respiration. Magnesium is also required for mitochondrial biogenesis.

Magnesium is vital for the health of your body and your brain, plus it is a cofactor required to repair DNA damage. More and more evidence is pointing to the importance of maintaining the health of your mitochondria to ultimately help you age better. You may not live longer, but you’ll drastically improve the quality of those years and ward off degenerative diseases.

As I’ve mentioned before, magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule so the easiest way to get an adequate amount is to eat lots of dark leafy greens like spinach, plus nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains also contain magnesium. The typical daily recommended amount of magnesium is about 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women. For those looking for supplements, you could take magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride. Both are easily absorbed and have minimal side effects.

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