Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
April 19, 2022
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

Do you struggle with focus lately and can’t seem to remember things? Like your head is always in a fog? If so, you’re not alone.

Many people experience brain fog at some point in their lives, and for some, it’s a constant battle. While there are many possible causes of brain fog, one that is often overlooked is magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium is essential for healthy brain function, and when levels are low, problems like mental fog can occur. In this post, we’ll discuss the symptoms of magnesium brain fog and 12 ways to clear it!

Let’s get started.

What exactly is brain fog?

Brain fog or mental fog is a term used to describe a feeling of mental fatigue or difficulty concentrating. It can feel like your brain is foggy and you can’t think clearly.

Some people experience this mild cognitive impairment for only a few days or weeks but others may find that it lingers for months and even years. 

You may have trouble remembering things, struggle to focus, or feel like your thoughts are jumbled. Mental fog can be frustrating and make it difficult to get through the day.

While cognitive fog is not a medical condition, it can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. For example, magnesium deficiency, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression have all been linked to mental fog

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing mental fog, as it could be a sign of a more severe condition.

What is magnesium, and why is it important?

Magnesium is a mineral that’s found in your body and in many foods. It’s necessary for healthy bones, muscles, and nerves.

Magnesium also helps your body produce energy and supports a healthy immune system function, especially the blood-brain barrier.

This essential nutrient plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body! So it’s no surprise that magnesium deficiency can lead to a variety of physical and mental health problems, including mental fog.

Most primarily, magnesium aids in the following fundamental body and brain functions:

Neurotransmitter release

Magnesium is necessary for the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for mood, focus, and sleep.

Nerve function

Magnesium is involved in nerve function and has a calming effect on the nervous system. This is why magnesium deficiency can lead to anxiety and irritability.

Energy production

Magnesium is involved in energy production at the cellular level. When magnesium levels are low, you may feel tired or fatigued.

Blood sugar regulation

This mineral helps the body to process and use glucose (sugar) efficiently for energy. 

Blood pressure regulation

Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and can help to lower blood pressure.

Detoxification

This mineral is involved in detoxifying the body, removing toxins and waste products.

Lack of Magnesium Brain Fog: Common Symptoms

Now that we know a little more about magnesium let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms of mental fog due to magnesium deficiency.

  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Mental fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle cramps or twitches
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Heart palpitations

As you can see, magnesium deficiency can lead to a variety of symptoms that can affect your mental and physical health. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. 

They can order a blood test to check your magnesium levels and determine if magnesium supplementation is necessary.

12 Ways To Clear Your Mental Fog

If you’re dealing with mental fog, there are many things you can do to clear the fog and feel more alert and focused.

Here are 12 ways to clear the fog and improve your overall mental health:

Maintain a well-balanced, brain-friendly diet

A healthy diet is essential for optimal brain function. Make sure to include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.

Limit processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats as they can promote inflammation and contribute to brain fog.

The best brain-friendly foods are the following: 

  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Beans and legumes
  • Berries
  • Avocados
  • Whole grains

And make sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet.

As we’ve discussed, magnesium deficiency can lead to mental fog and other mental health issues. Try incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet.

Some foods that are high in magnesium include:

  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Beet greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Bananas 

Consider taking dietary supplements that help the brain

In addition to eating a brain-friendly diet, you may also want to consider taking supplements that help improve brain function.

Other than magnesium, some of the best supplements for mental fog include:

  • Vitamin B complex, especially B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • L-theanine
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Ashwagandha 
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Bacopa monnieri

Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, as they may interact with medications you’re taking or have other side effects. 

Rehydrate often with water and herbal tea

Dehydration can lead to brain fog, so it’s essential to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids throughout the day.

Water is always the best choice, but herbal teas can also be helpful. Some of the best herbal teas for brain fog include:

  • Ginseng tea
  • Lemon balm tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Rosemary tea
  • Gotu kola tea
  • Lavender tea

Stick to healthy sleeping habits 

Getting enough sleep is essential for optimal brain function. Make sure you’re sticking to healthy sleeping habits by:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
  • Sleeping for at least seven hours each night
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Limiting screen time before bed

Create reminders and to-do lists

If you’re having trouble remembering things, try creating reminders or to-do lists. This can help you stay organized and on track.

You can use a physical planner or an app on your phone or computer. There are many different options available, so find one that works best for you.

Keep a journal 

Journaling can help you clear your mind and improve your focus.

Try writing down your thoughts, concerns, or anything that’s on your mind. You can also use journaling to brainstorm ideas or solutions to problems you’re facing.

And use your journal to take note of your mental fog symptoms that you want to discuss with your doctor.

Take breaks throughout the day.

When you’re feeling foggy, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Get up and move around every 30 minutes or so.

Take a walk outside, do some stretches, take deep breaths for a few minutes, or just get up and move around your home or office. 

Get regular aerobic exercise.

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain health. It increases blood flow to the brain and helps reduce anxiety and stress hormones.

Aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. Some great options include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or dancing.

Practice meditation or mindfulness

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you focus on the present moment. It’s a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, which can contribute to brain fog.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. You can try:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Qigong
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Breathing exercises

There are many apps and websites that offer mindfulness meditation programs, so you can find one that works best for you.

Practice relaxation techniques

In addition to mindfulness, there are other relaxation techniques that can help reduce stress and improve brain function.

Some great options include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Laughter therapy
  • Massages
  • Doing a hobby that you love
  • Journaling

Spend time in nature

There’s something about being in nature that just makes you feel good. Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase cognitive function.

So, next time you’re feeling foggy, try spending some time in nature. Go for a walk in the park, sit in your backyard, or just spend some time looking at plants and trees. 

Play brain games that you enjoy 

Brain games are a great way to keep your mind sharp and help improve brain function.

There are many different types of brain games, so you can find ones that you enjoy and that work for you.

Some great options include:

  • Crosswords
  • Sudoku
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Word searches 
  • Brain teasers
  • Scrabble
  • Chess
  • Escape rooms

There are many websites and apps that offer brain games, so you can find ones that you like and that are challenging for you.

What causes magnesium deficiency?

There are a few different things that can cause magnesium deficiency.

One is not getting enough magnesium in your diet. This can happen if you don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods or if your body can’t absorb the magnesium you eat.

Certain medical conditions and medications can also lead to magnesium deficiency.

Some of the conditions that can cause magnesium deficiency include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Certain medications can also lead to magnesium deficiency. These include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Diuretics
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn and GERD
  • Oral contraceptives

If you think you may be magnesium deficient, talk to your doctor. They can request a blood test to determine your magnesium levels.

What to Look for in a Magnesium Supplement 

If you decide to take the magnesium supplementation route, it’s important to choose one that is high quality and from a reputable manufacturer.

You’ll also want to make sure that the supplement you choose contains magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. These are two of the most easily absorbed forms of magnesium.

Other magnesium supplements you might want to discuss with your doctor include the following:

  • Magnesium oxide
  • Magnesium chelate
  • Magnesium threonate
  • Magnesium malate
  • Magnesium oil

When choosing a magnesium supplement, look for one that:

  • Contains magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate
  • Is from a reputable manufacturer
  • Is third-party tested
  • Is free of contaminants

If you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, talk to your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement.

They can help you choose a supplement that is right for you and make sure it won’t interact with any medications you’re taking.

The Bottom Line

Magnesium is an important mineral for your health. It’s involved in many processes in the body, including brain function.

Magnesium deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including brain fog.

If you think you may be magnesium deficient, discuss it with your doctor. They can request a blood test to assess your magnesium levels.

There are many ways to increase magnesium levels, including getting more magnesium in your diet and taking supplements. Talk to your doctor about the best way to increase your magnesium levels.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to get rid of it effectively, here are some more helpful articles to read, and check out this online community of brain health advocates

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