Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in various aspects of physical and mental health.
Recent research has found that consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium may help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that taking magnesium supplements will help your mood.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few different forms of magnesium available as supplements and their potential benefits.
We’ll also address how to take magnesium for anxiety, as well as the side effects and dosages of these supplements.
Then we’ll cover good food sources of magnesium and when to see a doctor about magnesium supplements.
What Is Magnesium?
The mineral magnesium is needed in the body for many reasons:
- It acts as an electrolyte to help support fluid balance in and out of cells.
- It supports muscle relaxation.
- It may support good sleep and relaxation.
- It supports healthy nerve transmission.
- It may support mood balance for depression and help alleviate feelings of anxiety.
While magnesium is found in many food sources, almost half of the U.S. population does not consume enough magnesium.
Types of Magnesium
Magnesium is mostly bound to other substances that help transport it into the body and allow it to be absorbed.
The different types of magnesium are named for what the mineral is bound to.
Used for supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
Crosses the blood-brain barrier and has potential benefits for cognition and mood balance.
Has a laxative effect and is used for constipation as well as for reducing muscle tension.
Has laxative benefits and is used for severe constipation and preparing bowels for surgical procedures.
Used for cardiovascular health benefits.
Magnesium for Anxiety
Magnesium affects many aspects of muscular health, tension, and the ability to relax.
Additionally, low magnesium levels have been linked to problems with mood, including anxiety disorders and depression.
This may be due to activity in the brain network known as the HPA axis, which helps regulate the stress response in the body.
This axis may be dysregulated in people living with anxiety.
Magnesium can support how the HPA axis functions, which could improve stress and anxiety responses.
Magnesium also supports vital functions of the nervous system, which may lead to improvements in conditions with neurological symptoms, such as depression and anxiety, by supporting neurotransmitter balance.
However, evidence of magnesium benefits for anxiety specifically is somewhat limited by study size or quality.
More research is necessary in this area.
If taken as directed, there are not many potential negative side effects of magnesium supplements for healthy individuals.
Still, because some forms can have laxative effects, even taking them as directed could result in intestinal cramping, diarrhea, or other digestive symptoms.
Magnesium from food is processed differently and does not generally cause significant side effects.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium differs depending on age and biological sex:
- Adults who were born male, ages 19-30: 400 milligrams (mg)
- Adults who were born male, ages 31 and older: 420 mg
- Adults who were born female, ages 19-30: 310 mg
- Adults who were born female, ages 31 and older: 320 mg
- Pregnant adults age 30 and under: 350 mg
- Pregnant adults over age 30: 360 mg
- Breastfeeding adults under age 30: 310 mg
- Breastfeeding adults over age 30: 320 mg
While you cannot overdose on magnesium from food sources, you can overdose from magnesium supplementation.
Magnesium toxicity can result in potentially life-threatening complications, including cardiac arrest.
Signs of consuming too much magnesium include:
Do not take more than 350 mg of magnesium daily from supplements.
Ask your healthcare provider about the proper dosage.
Also talk to them if you take any medications or other dietary supplements.
Magnesium supplements may interact with medications such as:
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Medications for osteoporosis
Foods High in Magnesium
Magnesium is naturally found in many foods:
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
- Legumes and beans
- Ground beef
Magnesium plays an important role in many bodily functions.
Adequate levels are needed for:
- Bowel function and preventing constipation
- Sleep function
- Pain signaling and reduction of pain levels
- Insulin and glucose function, which may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Blood pressure management
- Mood balance
- Neurotransmitter and blood vessel function in the brain, which can prevent or address migraines and headaches
- Healthy bones
- DNA and RNA function in the body
- Production of antioxidants in the body that protect cells and tissues from damage
When to See a Medical Professional
If you have symptoms of anxiety, speak to a medical provider before taking magnesium supplements.
Also talk to your provider if you take medication for anxiety and want to add magnesium supplements.
Supplements can interact with medications and other supplements, or may worsen health conditions if not taken correctly.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Muscle Soreness and Performance. (2020).
The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. (2017).
The Effects of Oral Magnesium Supplementation on Glycemic Response among Type 2 Diabetes Patients. (2018).
Magnesium Deficiency Induces Anxiety and HPA Axis Dysregulation: Modulation by Therapeutic Drug Treatment. (2012).
Magnesium Orotate–Experimental and Clinical Evidence. (2004).
Magnesium Oxide. (2022).
Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. (2020).
Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. (2017).
New Paradigms for Treatment-Resistant Depression. (2013).
The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. (2018).
Stress and the HPA Axis. (2012).
Subclinical Magnesium Deficiency: A Principal Driver of Cardiovascular Disease and a Public Health Crisis. (2018).