Magnesium is a mineral most of us don’t get enough of. Its ability to improve your heart health, bone strength, and sleep shouldn’t be underestimated. But, what about anxiety? Can Magnesium help with this common mental health condition too? Here we reveal the best magnesium for anxiety.
- Magnesium can help to reduce anxiety by increasing GABA levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that has calming effects.
- Magnesium glycinate is a good form of magnesium for anxiety because it is easily absorbed and has few side effects.
- The recommended dosage of magnesium for anxiety is 300-400 mg per day.
What Is Magnesium And Where Do You Find It?
Magnesium is a mineral that’s involved in many different bodily processes. Magnesium is found in foods such as dark green leafy veg, almonds, and cashews.
You can also find it in smaller quantities in dark chocolate and peanut butter. But unfortunately, soil mineral levels have declined in recent years, which means it’s now harder to gain sufficient intake through foods alone.
And most people don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods regularly either. So, many people choose to supplement with magnesium to ensure they get optimal intakes.
What Are The Benefits Of Magnesium?
Magnesium is pretty impressive where health benefits are concerned. The body has lots of magnesium receptors which indicates just how many different roles magnesium can play.
Below are some of the main advantages of regular magnesium supplementation:
1. It Can Help You With Blood Sugar Control
Amazingly, studies have found that just under 50% of people with metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes have less than ideal blood magnesium levels. (Source)
This could be perceived as a coincidence, but, scientists believe that low magnesium stores may worsen insulin resistance – a key driver of diabetes. So, if you want to reduce your risk of diabetes type 2, and increase your insulin sensitivity, topping up on magnesium is likely to be a good strategy. (Source)(Source)
Remember that type 2 diabetes is the gateway to many other conditions, such as heart disease, dementia, and other vascular complications – so it’s better to reduce your risk of getting a metabolic condition in the first place.
2. It Can Promote A Healthy Heart
Magnesium is key for heart health. In fact, it is actually administered in the emergency room when people are experiencing a particular type of irregular heartbeat. Ideally, though, we want to prevent developing heart issues in the first place.
One way to do this is through regular magnesium supplementation. How does magnesium help to keep your heart healthy? Well, it starts by keeping your blood pressure in check. (Source)
We know that raised blood pressure (over a long period of time) can increase your risk of heart disease. Helpfully, magnesium can help to keep your blood pressure within healthy limits, which in turn can reduce your risk of heart issues.
But magnesium doesn’t stop there. It also improves your cholesterol levels and helps to keep your heartbeat regular. (Source)
3. Can Reduce Inflammation
Having low levels of magnesium can put you at risk of increased inflammation. We now know that chronic levels of unmanaged inflammation can put you at risk of a range of chronic diseases such as heart disease, dementia, cancer, and more. So, doing everything we can to reduce inflammation is key.
Magnesium supplements, when taken regularly may reduce your levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive proteins and interleukin 6. This could be because magnesium lowers oxidative stress – which over time, can reduce inflammation too.
4. May Improve PMS Symptoms
PMS isn’t fun. It’s a common syndrome that affects between 20-40% of women of reproductive age. Symptoms include mood swings, abdominal cramps, cravings, insomnia, and more. Helpfully, magnesium has shown potential for symptom alleviation. (Source)(Source)
Studies show regular supplementation can help with PMS-associated bloating, depression, and anxiety. For these effects, women took 300mg daily over several weeks.
It also appears as if magnesium can reduce cramps and headaches associated with hormonal fluctuations. (Source)
5. Can Improve Sleep
Poor sleep affects many facets of health – and mental health is inextricably linked to sleep quality. Besides sticking to regular sleep/wake cycles, reducing caffeine, and winding down before bed, it can be beneficial to add magnesium to your sleep-optimizing regime.
Studies have shown magnesium can reduce the amount of time it takes you to drift off by around 20 minutes. (Source)
This can make bedtime a less stress-inducing experience and can improve the overall quality of your rest. There is other evidence to suggest that women report a reduced risk of falling asleep during the day when they supplement with magnesium. (Source)
How Does Magnesium Help Anxiety?
We are a little way from having all the answers to this question. But what we do know is – 18 separate studies have confirmed that magnesium does have anxiety-lowering properties, at least where subjective evidence is concerned.
Magnesium’s effects on neurotransmission are likely responsible for its anxiety-lowering benefits. In particular, magnesium upregulates GABA production – which is a key neurotransmitter for rest and relaxation.
GABA is the neurotransmitter linked to feelings of fear, panic, and stress. Which also ties into sleep. Because when GABA is in low supply, we can have poor sleep, and increased feelings of unease.
Magnesium causes a rise in GABA, leading to feelings of relaxation and peace.
Feeling physically tense can also lead to anxiety, but magnesium can help to relax muscular tension too. This can help you with stress-induced aches and pains and may enhance your sleep quality –which again, is a proven anxiety reducer.
Also, magnesium can directly influence the stress hormone cortisol, which rises when we are under pressure or feeling fearful. Magnesium can reduce the amount of cortisol that gets released, which therefore prevents excessive amounts from reaching the brain and affecting your mental well-being.
As an added bonus, there’s some evidence to suggest that magnesium can help with depression too, whether this is the result of a postpartum imbalance, chronic fatigue, or major depressive syndrome.
Low levels of magnesium are quite common in people with depression – which could be linked to the mineral’s role in glutamate activity. Excess glutamate can lead to an increased depression risk, whereas magnesium helps to prevent glutamate overactivity and therefore might reduce depression too.
Besides this, we know that anxiety and depression go hand in hand, and magnesium supplementation may be an effective method of managing both.
How Quickly Does Magnesium Work For Anxiety?
Magnesium is not a solution for immediate and acute panic situations. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work quickly enough to help in these extreme and sudden anxiety attacks.
But, the good news is that magnesium can reduce your general anxiety, whether mild or moderate. This can potentially reduce the risk of having more extreme anxiety attacks – as these can occur when generalized anxiety is not managed.
So you can think of magnesium as one tool in your anxiety management kit. When combined with good sleep, nutrition, sufficient exercise, breathing exercises, and yoga, you can potentially lower your anxiety levels to more manageable levels.
But of course, for some people, it’s the combination of pharmaceutical interventions and or talking therapies that work best alongside the more natural lifestyle approaches.
You might need to experiment to see what has the best outcomes for you – but magnesium is likely to be worth a shot for most people who are experiencing elevated stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.
What Is The Best Magnesium For Anxiety And Depression?
There are so many different types of magnesium – it can be a little overwhelming to know which one to take for the best.
The good news is that many different types of magnesium are good for anxiety and depression. Studies have focused mainly on magnesium oxide, citrate, taurate, and glycinate – all of which show promise.
Some of these might be better absorbed than others (taurate comes up tops in a study on rats), but each has their unique benefits.
For example, glycinate seems to be the go-to for sleep troubles, and magnesium oxide appears beneficial for anxiety reduction. So, there doesn’t seem to be any particular stand-out winner, so you can instead focus on finding a well-made supplement that offers you sufficient mg doses for your needs.
Remember that you can also top up your magnesium through diet, as well as experimenting with magnesium-rich Epsom salts for a holistic approach to anxiety management.
How Much Magnesium Is Needed For Anxiety And Depression?
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer here. This is because studies have shown that positive results have occurred when participants with anxiety took magnesium doses between 75-360mg a day.
So, it can be a good idea to check with a doctor before finding your optimum amount. But, as long as you stay within the safe upper limit (400mg per day) you should reduce your risks of any side effects.
You might choose to increase your food intake of magnesium and supplementing, or focus on supplementation to meet your magnesium needs–it depends on your diet and lifestyle. Remember that stress and heavy exercise deplete your magnesium supplies more quickly, which can lead you to need closer to 400mg a day to avoid depletion.
Whichever form of magnesium you take, just remember that consistency is key – so aim to take your supplements at the same time of day to ensure adherence. This will help you to get the best results going forward.
How To Take Magnesium For Anxiety
Taking magnesium at sleep is a good idea – this is because it can help you with improved sleep quality.
Be patient when you start with magnesium supplementation as you’ll probably find it takes a few weeks or months before you notice the anxiety reductions. So, consistency is key here.
Remember to check in with a doctor if you have any heart, liver, kidney, or other underlying health concerns, to check whether magnesium supplements are suitable for you – as well as which dose is safest.
Similarly, it’s important to get some medical advice if you currently take any other medications or supplements, as magnesium may alter the absorption of certain drugs and nutrients.
Be aware that less is more, as by exceeding the safe upper limit of 400mg per day, you may be risking a range of side effects which at the mild end of the spectrum can include an upset stomach, and the worst case can involve potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
Julia is a health content editor and nutritionist from Norwich, UK. She has worked as a health coach in private practice and for the national health service. She undertook an MSc in nutritional medicine to deepen her knowledge.
She enjoys producing evidence-based content which inspires people to become healthier and happier.