Magnesium helping anxiety

Can You Take Magnesium For Anxiety?

  • Overview
  • Can magnesium ease or improve anxiety?
  • How do I take magnesium for anxiety?
  • How much magnesium should I take for anxiety?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • How long does it take for magnesium to reduce anxiety?
  • What kind of magnesium should I take?
  • The lowdown

Magnesium is a vital nutrient that helps to facilitate many important processes within our bodies, including nerve function, blood sugar, and blood pressure regulation, and synthesizing protein, bone, and DNA in the body.

While it is important that we consume enough magnesium, you need to be careful about your magnesium intake because too much of it may cause serious physical complications.

Magnesium has also been shown to promote anxiety prevention and treatment. Here are some key facts to know about magnesium and anxiety.

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Magnesium plays an important role in supporting brain function and has been called 'nature's valium' and the 'original chill pill'.

Because of this, magnesium has been linked with reducing anxiety. One way it does this is by stimulating GABA1 (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. GABA receptors help to reduce brain transmission and slow down brain activity, which enables you to relax.

Low GABA in the brain keeps it active, making it very hard to relax, and has been linked to stress-induced disorders, such as social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Magnesium reduces stress hormones in the brain to lessen anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, memory loss, depression, insomnia, and a host of other mental health issues.

Magnesium limits the release of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone, and prevents it from reaching the brain.

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Brain inflammation has been linked to anxiety-related and psychological disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson's disease.

Consuming enough magnesium is a useful way to combat inflammation as it has significant anti-inflammatory properties by reducing cytokines in the brain. Cytokines ignite inflammation in the brain, leading to brain tissue destruction and altered brain function, causing anxiety, irritability, depression, and can even lead to suicidal ideation.

The brain has the ability to heal itself. It can make new brain cells and form new neural networks, a phenomenon called brain plasticity. Magnesium is one of the few minerals that enhances brain plasticity.

To reduce anxiety levels, magnesium can be consumed through magnesium-rich foods in your diet, or as a supplement.


Green leafy vegetables are among the best sources of magnesium.

It's also important to avoid foods that can deplete your body’s magnesium, such as refined foods, plants grown in magnesium-deficient soil, and fluoride, which binds to magnesium and makes it less bioavailable.


You may not get enough magnesium from your diet due to factors such as your genetics, metabolism, or pre-existing health conditions. This is where magnesium supplements can help.

The best supplements to take should have bioavailable forms of magnesium, like magnesium taurate, threonate, glycinate, malate, and citrate in high doses. It is not recommended to take magnesium sulfates and oxides, which will not reduce your anxiety.

You could also consume mineral water which is rich in magnesium on top of your diet and magnesium supplements for added benefits, as long as you do not exceed recommended daily magnesium limits.

The amount of magnesium you should take depends on your age, weight, and sex. Adults typically need between 310 mg and 420 mg of magnesium per day. Consult your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement.

It is rare to experience any side effects from taking magnesium, as long as you do not consume too much of it. Signs of magnesium toxicity include irregular heartbeat, lethargy, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, dizziness, and labored breathing.

However, magnesium toxicity and serious side effects are very uncommon, making magnesium safe for consumption. The most common side effect of magnesium is loose stool and diarrhea since most magnesium is eliminated through stool.

In most cases, magnesium starts working within a week, since it's a fast-acting nutrient. You need to take it consistently to reduce anxiety and help you relax.

If you’re browsing for the right magnesium supplement to take, it’s important to know what you’re looking for as the wrong supplement can do you more harm than good. Before purchasing, make sure to identify your needs. Forms such as magnesium carbonate and citrate are best used as laxatives.

Medical research has linked magnesium to reduced anxiety. Magnesium helps you to relax by stimulating the production of melatonin and serotonin which boost your mood and help you sleep.

Magnesium also reduces the production of cytokines and cortisol, which lead to increased inflammation and stress.

While it is important to consume enough magnesium, too much of it is toxic.

Choose the right magnesium supplement with the help of your doctor to keep you relaxed and enhance your mood.

Best Forms of Magnesium for Anxiety and Depression

Magnesium’s beneficial effects on mood and stress are so well-known that the mineral has nicknames like “the original chill pill” and “nature’s valium.”

However, many people are on low doses of magnesium or take forms of magnesium that are not well-absorbed by the body. It’s no surprise that they don’t notice any benefit in their anxiety, stress, mood, or sleep. Some of the commonly asked questions that patients have about magnesium supplements include:

  • How does magnesium affect mental health?

  • Which foods have the most magnesium?

  • What forms of magnesium are best for anxiety or depression?

  • How much magnesium is needed for anxiety or depression?

  • What are the side effects of magnesium supplementation? Is it safe?

In this article, we’ll review the different forms of magnesium and their effects on brain health.

How does magnesium affect mental health?

In our first article about magnesium, we explore the connection between magnesium deficiency and anxiety. In addition to anxiety, low magnesium levels have been linked with:

  • Higher levels of stress

  • Depression

  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances

  • Headaches or muscle pain/tightness

  • Fatigue

Magnesium plays two important roles in the brain, which may contribute to these symptoms:

  1. It blocks the activity of more stimulating neurotransmitters and binds to calming receptors, resulting in a more peaceful, resting state.

  2. It helps to regulate the release of stress hormones like cortisol, acting like the brake on your body’s nervous system.

Which foods have the most magnesium?

When trying to evaluate our magnesium intake, the first source we should look at is our daily diet. Healthy foods are foundational to raising magnesium levels and other essential minerals, and supplements should never be viewed as a substitute for a nutrient-rich diet.

While it’s beneficial to build a healthy diet with all of these foods, leafy greens are the best source for magnesium and overall mineral intake. This is because grains, seeds, and nuts contain a compound called phytic acid, which can reduce the body’s ability to absorb magnesium and other minerals like zinc and iron.


While diet is the starting point for increasing mineral intake in general, it may not be enough for some people with mental health conditions, because of:

  • Modern day food cultivation. Farming processes have depleted magnesium and other minerals from the soil, and the techniques used in food processing can deplete magnesium levels by up to 80%.

  • Biochemical individuality. Factors such as genetics, metabolism, health conditions, and more can influence how much magnesium an individual person needs for healthy functioning. Those with anxiety, depression and insomnia may need more magnesium than they can feasibly get from their food.

What forms of magnesium are best for anxiety or depression?

There are two main factors to consider when choosing a form of magnesium:

  1. Bioavailability, which indicates how much magnesium can be absorbed by the gut.

  2. Access to the brain, as effective forms of magnesium have to be able to cross the protective blood brain barrier surrounding the brain.

The two most commonly prescribed forms of magnesium – magnesium oxide and citrate – have the lowest bioavailability of the various forms. This means that they are more likely to pass through the gut and cause loose stools and diarrhea, so they are best used to relieve constipation. Magnesium salts like carbonate and sulfate have similar issues with absorption.

Based on recent studies, there are certain forms of magnesium that have better bioavailability and ability to cross the blood brain better, making them better treatment options for addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression:

Magnesium Taurate

Magnesium taurate contains an amino acid called taurine, which has a calming, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory effect in the brain. Taurine also appears to help the magnesium enter the brain. In addition, it is gentle on the GI tract, making it unlikely to cause loose stool and diarrhea. In a recent study, magnesium acetyl taurate increased brain magnesium levels more than any other form of magnesium.

Magnesium Threonate

This form of magnesium has impressive studies backing its use in mental health conditions and has evidence that it can cross the blood brain barrier. However, it can be more expensive and may require taking 2-3 times more capsules than other magnesium supplements to reach a sufficient therapeutic dose.

Magnesium Glycinate

Glycine is an essential amino acid that has important neurotransmitter functions in the brain. Glycine supplementation can improve the quality of sleep, making this form of magnesium a good choice for those with insomnia. Preliminary research shows that magnesium glycinate can elevate levels of magnesium in brain tissue. Like magnesium taurate, the glycinate form is gentle on the GI tract.

Magnesium Malate

This is one of the better absorbed forms of magnesium, which increases both serum and muscle levels of magnesium. Preliminary research shows that it may be effective in treating symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, as malate is involved with energy production.

Based on current data, magnesium taurate and glycinate have the most research supporting their effects on anxiety and other mental health disorders. Magnesium malate and threonine have also demonstrated therapeutic effects and may be useful in many psychiatric cases.

* Magnesium citrate has some evidence of entering the brain, but only at significantly high doses.

How much magnesium is needed for anxiety or depression?

At this time, we don’t have enough research to determine the best dose of magnesium for mental health conditions. Recent research indicates that doctors likely need to use higher doses of magnesium for many psychiatric patients than we previously thought.

Most supplement labels and nutritional organizations recommend taking about 320mg of magnesium, which is the recommended dietary allowance set by the FDA. However, this is based on the nutritional needs of healthy individuals and does not take biochemical individuality or preexisting mental health conditions into account.

Stanford recently conducted a study using 1800mg of magnesium threonate in older patients to evaluate its effect on executive functioning and memory. For those wondering how much is too much magnesium, the European Commission found that doses greater than 2500mg could result in toxic hypermagnesaemia (i. e. too much magnesium).

Anyone taking magnesium supplements past the recommended daily intake or along with other medications should always consult with a physician or other medical professional beforehand.

What are the side effects of magnesium supplementation? Is it safe?

Magnesium is generally very safe, and serious side effects and toxicity are both rare.

For most people, the body efficiently handles excess magnesium by eliminating it through the stool, which is why the most common side effect is loose stool or diarrhea.

Although it is very rare for magnesium to reach toxic levels, signs of toxicity include a fall in blood pressure, lethargy, confusion, heartbeat disturbances, dizziness, muscle weakness, and trouble breathing. Patients with impaired kidney function are at higher risk for adverse effects of magnesium. Magnesium can also interfere with certain drugs, including various antibiotics and medications for diabetes or high blood pressure. If either of these conditions apply, it’s important to check in with your doctor before starting magnesium supplementation.

Using the right form and dose of magnesium is like using the right key to open a lock.

When trying to develop a treatment strategy, it’s important to use the most accurate solutions we have. Based on the current data, magnesium taurate and magnesium glycinate are two of the better options that may help those with mental health conditions. Psychiatric patients may also need more magnesium than the average individual but should consult a medical professional if their intake exceeds the FDA’s recommended dosage.

Magnesium is best used as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan along with a proper diet, stress reduction techniques, and treating the root cause of your symptoms. We hope that this information can help you build a strong foundation for your health journey.


  1. “Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best?” Biological Trace Element Research (2018)
  2. “Dose-Dependent Absorption Profile of Different Magnesium Compounds” Biological Trace Element Research (2019)
  3. “Dietary phytate reduces magnesium bioavailability in growing rats” Nutrition Research (1998)
  4. “New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep” Journal of Pharmacological Sciences (2012)
  5. “Magnesium L-Threonate for the Enhancement of Learning and Memory in People With Dementia” Stanford University (2014)
  6. “Opinion on the Tolerable Upper Intake Level of Magnesium” European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General (2001)

The information and any products mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the relationships with your physician(s). Before initiating any conventional or integrative treatments, please first consult with a licensed medical provider.  Please review references cited at the end of article for scientific support of any claims made.


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what science says about effectiveness

Svetlana Belitskaya


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Magnesium supplements are popular over-the-counter drugs that try to relieve stress and treat anxiety.

At the same time, the effectiveness of supplements with this trace element as sedative drugs has not been proven.

Even before 2020, anxiety disorders were common health problems. The COVID-19 pandemic and the events of the past month have worsened the situation. nine0003

Go see a doctor

Our articles are written with love for evidence-based medicine. We refer to authoritative sources and go to doctors with a good reputation for comments. But remember: the responsibility for your health lies with you and your doctor. We don't write prescriptions, we make recommendations. Relying on our point of view or not is up to you.

Since millions of people on Earth need sedatives every day, scientists are trying to create new effective anti-anxiety drugs that would not cause side effects and would be shown to children, pregnant women, and the elderly. They consider magnesium supplements as one of such means. nine0003

According to the State Register of Medicines, several dozens of magnesium preparations, both domestic and foreign, are registered in Russia. Several dietary supplements with magnesium are also registered in the Rospotrebnadzor database.


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In many drugs and supplements, magnesium is combined with other bioactive components: minerals, vitamins, brewer's yeast. A combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 is usually tried as a sedative. nine0003 Russian magnesium preparation from Pharmstandard-UfaVITA. Source: "Eapteka" German preparation of magnesium. Source: Eapteka

How magnesium and anxiety are related

Mg²+ is important for the human body. The trace element is involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids, energy metabolism, insulin release, muscle contractions.

In the 1980s, scientists discovered that Mg²+ affects the functioning of the central nervous system.

There are two main neurotransmitters in the human brain - excitatory glutamate and inhibitory CNS activity gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA. nine0003

Theoretical studies have shown that when the neurons involved in glutamate are too active, a person becomes anxious. Magnesium weakens the action of glutamate. And at the same time, it enhances the effect of GABA on nerve cells, which is important for combating stress, because when GABA is not enough, a person is anxious.

Studies have also shown that stress depletes magnesium, and low levels of the trace element lead to stress. When a person is under stress, he produces special hormones that help him survive in a difficult situation. They activate the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, increase brain activity. nine0003


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But stress hormones work in such a way that they reduce the concentration of magnesium in the blood serum and lead to its loss in the urine. The endocrine glands that produce stress hormones are sensitive to magnesium deficiency: when the level of the microelement decreases, they work more actively. And gradually, there are more and more stress hormones, and the body continues to lose magnesium and become “nervous”. A vicious circle closes: stress - loss of magnesium - increased stress - additional losses of the microelement. nine0003

In other words, magnesium regulates the functioning of the nervous system in such a way that it prevents the negative effects of stress and the development of anxiety. Therefore, scientists have suggested that micronutrient supplementation may be useful for treating anxiety.

Is Magnesium Effective in Combating Anxiety

In 2017 Nutrients published a review article that analyzed the scientific literature available at the time on the effects of magnesium supplementation in treating anxiety. In total, the authors of the review found 6573 publications on this topic. But the review included only double-blind randomized clinical trials, RCTs, in which people with mild anxiety participated without serious physical illnesses and identified depletion of magnesium reserves in the body. nine0003

According to the rules of the RCT, one group of volunteers takes the study drug, the second - a placebo or a drug with proven efficacy. Who got a placebo or a drug with recognized efficacy, and who got the study drug, neither the volunteers nor the doctors know.

Eight were selected from 6573 studies according to RCT criteria. But they also turned out to be unreliable: they all had at least one of the three shortcomings.

Problems with statistical processing of results. Six out of eight studies assessed the effectiveness of treatment using the Hamilton Anxiety Scale - HAM-A. The authors of the review indicate that the use of this scale is associated with errors in data processing. nine0003

No placebo control. Three studies compared magnesium supplements to other drugs rather than placebo. The lack of “dummy” control reduces the reliability of studies, since the assessment of the placebo effect is important in the development of methods for treating psychiatric conditions - anxiety, depression, addictions. At the same time, all studies with a placebo group analyzed by the authors of the review showed that the effectiveness of the "dummy" is comparable to the effectiveness of magnesium preparations. nine0003


They say the placebo effect doesn't work for everyone, right?

The use of magnesium in combination with other bioactive compounds. Only one study out of eight used magnesium by itself. In all the rest, the trace element was supplemented with vitamin B6 or medicinal plants. Vitamin B6 can alter the functioning of neurotransmitters involved in the development of anxiety.

Instructions for medical use "Magne B6"PDF, 40.7 KB

The review authors concluded that magnesium has not been proven effective in treating even mild anxiety. Those clinical studies that seem to meet modern quality standards, upon careful examination, turn out to be not completely reliable.

Since the review was published, the situation with studies of the relationship between magnesium and anxiety has not changed., an independent database of dietary supplements, lists only one study in March 2022 on the effects of magnesium on anxiety. But it is dedicated to the treatment of premenstrual syndrome, not stress and background anxiety. nine0003

Published in PLoS One in 2018, claims to be a randomized and blinded trial and proves the effectiveness of magnesium supplements for treating anxiety. But in fact, in the experiment, magnesium and magnesium + vitamin B6 were compared in a blind, randomized method.

Stress suppression efficacy of magnesium and magnesium in combination with vitamin B6 was approximately the same. But the study did not evaluate either placebo or other anti-anxiety agents. Therefore, it cannot be argued that the stress in the volunteers in the experiment decreased due to the intake of magnesium. Perhaps their condition has improved over time or for some other reason. nine0003

A 2021 study demonstrated the effectiveness of magnesium against social stress induced by the Trier Social Stress Test - TSST. Volunteers gave a speech introducing themselves as candidates for employment, and then performed mathematical operations. They did it in front of a jury, which was a major stressor.

The study was randomized: volunteers were assigned to groups at random. A placebo control was used: 25 out of 100 people received a dummy tablet instead of a magnesium preparation. nine0003

An experimental group of 75 people was divided into three subgroups. All subgroups received magnesium, vitamins B6, B9 and B12. The difference between the subgroups was in the supplementation of green tea and rhodiola extracts.

The results of the experiment showed that the combination of magnesium, vitamins B6, B9, B12, green tea extracts and Rhodiola has the highest effectiveness against stress. That is, the study does not prove the effectiveness of magnesium: it is possible that stress in participants decreased due to the action of vitamins or herbal extracts. nine0003


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Do I need to take magnesium to calm down

Magnesium preparations registered in Russia do not belong to the group of sedatives. Even those manufacturers who advertise their drugs as a means of combating anxiety honestly indicate that the medicine helps with anxiety only if it arose against the background of a trace element deficiency.

The official website of Magne B6 indicates that it is effective for magnesium deficiency

If we open the instructions posted on this site, we will see that the indication for the use of the drug is an established magnesium deficiency, which may be accompanied by irritability and insomnia.

Established magnesium deficiency, or hypomagnesemia, may be asymptomatic. But it usually manifests itself with trembling, convulsions, and heart rhythm disturbances. Hypomagnesemia develops against the background of hunger, taking certain medications and serious illnesses - for example, Crohn's disease, acute pancreatitis, alcoholism. nine0003


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You can't self-diagnose magnesium deficiency. Such a diagnosis can only be made by a doctor based on tests. True, the manufacturers of Magne B6 posted a special questionnaire on their website, with the help of which one can suspect a lack of a microelement. However, as if by chance, they warn that the test results are not a diagnosis, and for a reliable detection of trace element deficiency, you should consult a doctor. nine0003

Magnesium Deficiency ChecklistPDF, 40.7 KB

Magnesium's effect on anxiety has only been shown in basic research. There is no reliable clinical evidence of the effectiveness of micronutrient therapy for anxiety disorders.

Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Russian Society of Psychiatrists

Guidelines for the Treatment of Generalized Disorder - American Anxiety and Depression Association

Magnesium and magnesium supplements in combination with vitamin B6 are not listed in any domestic or foreign clinical guidelines for the treatment of anxiety. Therefore, it is unreasonable to try to treat anxiety with a trace element without consulting a doctor.

Can magnesium help relieve stress quickly

How can you reduce your stress level? As a rule, it’s impossible to just take it and stop worrying, but what can be done if anxiety does not subside. Maybe magnesium would work? nine0003

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Relieve stress


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Magnesium is a trace element that is extremely important for our body. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions, and its deficiency instantly affects our health and well-being.

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment. nine0003

In addition to being involved in energy metabolism, protein and DNA synthesis, magnesium is important for muscle function, as well as for the normal functioning of the nervous system. If there is not enough magnesium in the body, then the impulse transmission system in the brain will not work correctly, this will affect our emotions and reactions.

The main part of magnesium is concentrated in the bones, but this element is present in muscles, soft tissues, as well as blood and other body fluids.

The idea of ​​the connection between magnesium and the nervous system is well known, and therefore the idea often arises to take magnesium supplements if a person experiences anxiety, stress, panic.

Let's say right away that you should not self-medicate and any supplements (as well as medicines) can be taken only after consulting a doctor. But what can be said about magnesium, does it make sense to use it for stress?

Scientists say that yes, magnesium can be helpful for those who experience stress and severe anxiety, although there is not too much research in this area. nine0003

In one experiment it was possible to show that those people who were deficient in magnesium had higher levels of anxiety than those whose magnesium levels were normal. In another study, they found that a 6-week course of magnesium resulted in less pronounced symptoms of depression, a similar effect was observed with depression.

It has been shown that magnesium deficiency affects a number of metabolic processes in the body, including the metabolism of vitamin D. And if this vitamin is low, then depression can be quite pronounced. It turns out that magnesium deficiency can provoke depressive symptoms and increase anxiety. nine0003

However, using magnesium as an emergency aid to quickly relieve anxiety is definitely not going to work. If there is indeed a deficiency of magnesium in the body, then it will take at least several weeks to compensate for it. In one study, the condition of the participants in the experiment was able to improve in 6 weeks - they noted that during this period they became less anxious and more calm.

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