4.3 Magnesium, Glutamine & Tryptophan


The mineral magnesium is certainly one of the most underappreciated nutrients. It is involved in over 1000 biochemical processes in the body, so its relevance to mental health is inevitable. Magnesium is useful to support issues such as anxiety and nervous tension. This is because it can physically relax the muscles. If you are feeling anxious then your muscles will literally begin to tense up. Magnesium helps the muscle fibres relax, easing the feeling of tension. Magnesium also relaxes the nervous system and plays an important role in nerve conduction.

Best food sources of magnesium:

  • Leafy greens
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Cashews


Glutamine is an amino acid that is freely available in supplement form and is popular amongst bodybuilders and athletes due to its role in muscle maintenance. Glutamine is also the precursor to the neurotransmitter glutamate which is a stimulant. It is especially useful for those moments when we really need to put our brains in gear. For example before an interview or an exam that requires some problem-solving skills.

Best food sources of glutamine:

  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Red cabbage
  • Dairy products


Tryptophan is another amino acid of great importance to mental health. Tryptophan is the precursor neurotransmitter – serotonin. Given the right circumstances, tryptophan will cross the blood-brain barrier and get converted over into serotonin. To get tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier to where it is needed, we need to consume it with a good quality carbohydrate source. This gentle rise in insulin will allow it to get across. Tryptophan rich foods are great for lifting mood and are also especially useful for a good night’s sleep, as a rise in serotonin in the evening can convert over into something called melatonin, which promotes deep healthy sleep.

Best food sources of tryptophan:

  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • bananas
  • Cheese
  • Eggs