Background: Depression is a common and often disabling disorder. Magnesium supplementation has been linked to improvement in depressive symptoms, but consensus on the relationship between magnesium and depression has not been reached.

Methods: The purpose of this study was to test the existence of an association between dietary magnesium intake and depression in the adult US population. A cross-sectional, population-based data set (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) was used to explore the relationship of magnesium intake and depression in 8894 US adults (mean age, 46.1 years; 47.4% men) from 2007 to 2010. Using logistic regression to model the relationship between the presence of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire score ≥5) and low magnesium intake (<184 mg/day), we examined the risk ratio (RR) of magnesium intake and its 95% confidence interval.

Results: After adjusting for all potential confounders, the strength of the association of very low magnesium intake with depression was statistically significant (RR = 1.16; 95% CI, 1.06-1.30). Adjusting for all other covariates, low magnesium intake was associated with depression in subjects younger than age 65 (RR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.06-1.40; P = .007) but seemed to be protective in seniors (RR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.56-0.98; P = .032).

Conclusions: We found a significant association between very low magnesium intake and depression, especially in younger adults. The finding of the potential protective effect of low magnesium intake in older adults is surprising and warrants further investigation.

Keywords: Depression; Dietary Supplements; Nutritional Sciences.

© Copyright 2015 by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Tarleton EK, Littenberg B. Magnesium intake and depression in adults. J Am Board Fam Med. 2015 Mar-Apr;28(2):249-56. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2015.02.140176. PMID: 25748766.