Magnesium is an essential mineral that has a wide range of physiological functions in humans and animals. Magnesium is a cofactor in roughly 300 enzymes and is pivotal in energy production. The intake of magnesium required for health is not fixed, but depends on a number of factors most notably the intake of other minerals including calcium. Therefore two individuals with equal intakes of magnesium may not have equal magnesium status because it will depend what else is in their diet. Low intakes of magnesium may cause activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and this may cause excessive release of glutamate into the cells, which can lead to hyper-excitability in neurones. As with zinc, magnesium may also affect the stress response through modification of the limbic-hypothalamus-pituitary axis in the brain. Supplements of magnesium have been shown to have beneficial effects against anxiety and depression, and this is particularly evident in those with a magnesium deficiency.
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