Everything You Need to Know About Magnesium for Anxiety

By Zina Semenovskaya, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 13, 2022

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.

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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.

Magnesium taurate

Used for supporting healthy blood sugar levels.

Magnesium glycinate

Commonly used for reducing muscle pain, supporting physical relaxation, and improving sleep quality.

Magnesium threonate

Crosses the blood-brain barrier and has potential benefits for cognition and mood balance.

Magnesium citrate

Has a laxative effect and is used for constipation as well as for reducing muscle tension.

Magnesium oxide

Has laxative benefits and is used for severe constipation and preparing bowels for surgical procedures.

Magnesium orotate

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.

Side Effects

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.

Dosages

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

Overdose Symptoms

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:

  • Diuretics
  • Antibiotics
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Medications for osteoporosis

Foods High in Magnesium

Magnesium is naturally found in many foods:

  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Legumes and beans
  • Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Avocado
  • Ground beef
  • Chicken

Other Benefits

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
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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.

How K Health Can Help

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which type of magnesium is best for anxiety?
Research has not identified a single type of magnesium that definitively treats anxiety. However, some forms are associated with tension relief and supporting brain balance. These are magnesium glycinate, magnesium threonate, and magnesium citrate.
How much magnesium should I take for anxiety?
There is no standard recommended dosage of magnesium to treat anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for a dosage recommendation specific to your symptoms.
How long does magnesium take to help anxiety?
Magnesium must be taken regularly for several weeks in order to see any noticeable changes in mood. Keep in mind that magnesium is not FDA-approved for treating anxiety, and it may not provide relief for everyone.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

Zina Semenovskaya, MD

Dr. Semenovskaya specializes in emergency medicine, and received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. She is currently the medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, LLC and splits her time working clinically as an emergency medicine attending in California and Alaska. She is the first of our doctors to be fluent in Russian.