Magnesium And The Gut-Brain Connection -

We are made of bacteria.

You may be astonished to hear that there are more bacterial cells in the human body than human ones.  There are over 100 trillion bacterial cells in your body, vastly over numbering the 10 trillion human cells in your body. Even more compelling is that most of these bacteria are part of our “microbiome” that help our bodies function normally.

Gut microbiome impacts your digestion and mental health*

Out of all the microbiomes of bacteria that cover your skin, eyes, digestive tracts, and lungs, the gut microbiome is arguably the most studied and has the most impact on your daily life. The gut microbiome contains hundreds of species of bacteria that not only help us digest food by excreting special enzymes and utilizing micronutrients, but also impact our mental health by producing neurotransmitters and hormones, giving the gut the nickname, the Second Brain.

Magnesium is associated with changes in microbiome composition and may impact mood*

The gut microbiome is a fragile and adaptive environment that changes according to the intake of several nutrients, one of which is magnesium. In linked studies done in Denmark by scientists from Aarhus University (1) and the University of Copenhagen (2), scientists concluded that the gut microbiome of mice differed significantly based on high-magnesium and low-magnesium low diets.

Furthermore, the team from Aarhus University tested the effects of this change on depressive behavior by measuring mobility and effort. The team found that magnesium deficient mice had less mobility – which corresponds to depressive symptoms in humans and that this behavior was significantly associated with changes in gut microbiota.

The group from the University of Copenhagen  tested the effects of magnesium and gut microbiome on anxiety in mice. Groups of magnesium deficient and sufficient mice were tested using a light-dark box test which places mice in a dark box and measures the time it takes for the mice to run to the light. From these experiments, it was concluded that magnesium deficient mice took the shortest time to run to the light, a behavior associated with anxious behavior. This more anxious behavior also correlated significantly to changes in gut microbiome.*

Magnesium may have a crucial role in regulating certain species of gut bacteria

An interesting study was done by researchers from the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Brussels (3),  that could help us gain insight into magnesium’s potential effects on gut bacteria. Researchers took mice and fed them either a magnesium high or deficient diet in order to analyze intestinal inflammation and quantity of certain species of bacteria. After several days, the researchers determined that a magnesium deficient diet in addition to being associated with higher intestinal inflammation, also caused a dip in the quantity of bifidobacteria, a major component of the gut microbiome that is believed to produce vitamins and protect the gut from harmful pathogens.

While our human diets would normally never reach the level of magnesium deficiency that these mice did, this research still begs the question, can we use magnesium to regulate our gut microbiomes?

How you can manage your magnesium

Magnesium is a crucial mineral that is required for the function of hundreds of enzymes which aid in ion transport, cell signaling, and synthesis of new materials. According to the National Institutes of Health(4), the average adult man and woman should consume about 420 mg and 320 mg of magnesium respectively, of which, the best foods to eat are leafy greens, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. And make sure your daily mutinutrient includes high-quality chelated magnesium to maximize absorption and utilization.   

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(1) Dietary magnesium deficiency alters gut microbiota and leads to depressive-like behaviour. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2015 Jun;27(3):168-76. doi: 10.1017/neu.2015.7. Epub 2015 Feb 18.
(2) Dietary magnesium deficiency affects gut microbiota and anxiety-like behaviour in C57BL/6N mice. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2015 Mar 16:1-5. [Epub ahead of print] (3) Changes in intestinal bifidobacteria levels are associated with the inflammatory response in magnesium-deficient mice. J Nutr. 2010 Mar;140(3):509-14. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.117374. Epub 2010 Jan 20.
(4) NIH Magnesium Factsheet “Magnesium.” Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 7 July 2015.

*The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.