Magnesium for Anxiety: Does it Work?

Anxiety Disorder
Read Time: 6 Minutes
Written by:Famous Erwin, LMHC, LPC, CAM 2

Published On: September 28, 2023

Medically reviewed by: Cynthia V. Catchings, LCSW-S

Reviewed On: September 28, 2023

Updated On: September 28, 2023


Using natural minerals and dietary supplements — like magnesium — to help with uneasiness or anxiety has become more common in recent years. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in bodily functions — it helps regulate nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Magnesium supplementation also plays a role in making DNA, bone, and protein.

A magnesium supplement offers numerous benefits, including stimulating serotonin and melatonin production, which are related to mood boosts and helping you relax. Research suggests magnesium deficiency might induce mild anxiety and depression. 

Keep reading to learn more about magnesium and anxiety. We’re addressing whether or not magnesium helps with anxiety, its potential benefits, the link between deficiency and anxiety, possible side effects and precautions, and more.

Does Magnesium Help with Anxiety?

When it comes to managing mental health conditions like anxiety, more and more people are turning to natural remedies for anxiety to help alleviate some of their symptoms.

Is magnesium good for anxiety? While more research is needed, the outlooks are promising, and it’s one of the holistic solutions many people believe to be effective. One systematic review of 24 studies confirms that certain herbal supplements and dietary supplements, including magnesium, appear to be effective in treating mild anxiety and anxiety-related conditions. 

iconExpert Insight

“Research has found that magnesium may help with brain functions that reduce stress and anxiety. Magnesium affects the hypothalamus, which assists in regulating the pituitary and adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for stress response.”
LMHC, LPC, CAM 2 Famous Erwin

The link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety

There’s likely a link between a low magnesium level and increased anxiety levels. According to one recent study, a low magnesium level or intake does seem to be associated with higher rates of both depression and anxiety disorders. This could be due to low magnesium levels having a negative impact on certain neurotransmitter production — the chemicals responsible for transmitting messages between nerve cells that play a vital role in regulating mood. 

How magnesium impacts neurotransmitters and stress hormones

Magnesium and anxiety may be related through the mineral’s ability to regulate neurotransmitter activity involved in stress responses (like serotonin and glutamate). Serotonin and glutamate help maintain emotional balance, so altering their activity in the brain through magnesium might help improve emotional balance.

Beyond helping the neurotransmitters related to mood regulation, magnesium can also impact stress hormones — like cortisol — by inhibiting their release during times of extreme tension, toxic stress, or heightened worry. Some research shows that supplementing oral magnesium can effectively reduce stress hormone cortisol levels, thus relieving anxiety.

How to Take Magnesium for Anxiety Relief

For optimal anxiety relief, it’s important to understand what types of magnesium are most beneficial and how much you should take. You should also know how long it might take to start feeling positive results after taking a magnesium supplement.

Which type of magnesium is best for anxiety?

There are multiple magnesium compounds, each with different absorption rates and levels of effectiveness for treating anxiety. Some of the popular forms of magnesium supplementation include:

  • Magnesium oxide: Common over-the-counter (OTC) form of magnesium with a low absorption rate.
  • Magnesium citrate: Highly absorbable form used to help with constipation.
  • Magnesium glycinate: Known for calming effects on the brain, this form of magnesium is often recommended to help with anxiety symptoms.
  • Magnesium L-Threonate: Used for brain health by increasing magnesium concentrations in brain cells.
  • Magnesium taurate: A combination of magnesium that’s bonded to amino acid taurine, it might help support heart health and mental well-being.

iconExpert Insight

“Studies show that a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, magnesium supplements, and mineral water is rich in magnesium and beneficial to treating anxiety. If taking magnesium in a supplement form, adults would brom taking between 310 mg and 420 mg of magnesium per day.”
LMHC, LPC, CAM 2 Famous Erwin

Recommended magnesium intake for adults

Adults’ suggested amount of magnesium will vary depending on age, sex, and weight. The National Institutes of Health indicates that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium in adults is between 360 mg and 420 mg. 

You should always consult a healthcare provider or your therapist before taking any OTC supplement like magnesium.

Incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet

In addition to taking magnesium supplements, you can increase your magnesium intake by consuming foods rich in this essential mineral. Excellent food sources of magnesium include:

  • Leafy green vegetables — like spinach and kale
  • Nuts and seeds — like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds
  • Whole grains — like brown rice and quinoa
  • Fish — like salmon or mackerel

Eating a balanced diet with these and other nutrient-dense foods can boost overall health and support mental well-being.

How Quickly Does Magnesium Work for Anxiety?

When taking magnesium for anxiety symptoms, the results can vary. How long it takes magnesium to work depends on factors like metabolism, weight, and the severity of your deficiency. It’s possible to see a decrease in anxiety symptoms very quickly, but for some people, it might take longer or not work at all for you. For many people who take magnesium, anxiety starts to subside within about a week. It’s important to take magnesium consistently and monitor your progress over time.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Although magnesium can be beneficial for anxiety relief, just like any medication or supplement, it’s essential to know its potential side effects. 

Excessive magnesium intake can cause adverse reactions. There’s also the potential for interaction with other medications. You should consult your doctor before taking magnesium for anxiety or other reasons.

Side effects 

Side effects of excessive magnesium intake could include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irritability

In rare cases, magnesium can result in an irregular heartbeat or low blood pressure. Do not take more than the recommended daily allowance to avoid serious side effects.

Interactions with medications and health conditions

Magnesium can interact negatively with certain medications. It could also worsen some health conditions. Ask your doctor about using magnesium if you are on any of the following:

  • Certain osteoporosis medications: Magnesium can decrease absorption rate if taken simultaneously.
  • Certain antibiotics: Certain antibiotics can be impacted by magnesium intake.
  • Diuretics: Some diuretics can increase magnesium levels, while others can lead to a decrease. You should closely monitor your magnesium intake if you are on diuretic medication.

Consulting with a healthcare professional

Before you start any supplement regimen, it’s important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Your doctor can assess your needs and recommend the best form of magnesium for anxiety relief. They can also warn you about potential interactions, reactions, and side effects to be aware of.

Help Treat Anxiety Symptoms with Talkspace

Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that affects many aspects of your life. Left untreated, it can interfere with and negatively impact your relationships, profession, and even your ability to function normally. The good news is anxiety is treatable. Managing symptoms is possible with the help of therapy for anxiety, drugs, supplements, and self care activities like diet, yoga, exercise, and meditation. 

While magnesium may offer some relief from anxiety, there may come a point where you need to explore additional treatment options for long-term anxiety management. Talkspace can be instrumental in helping you learn to manage your anxiety. Our experienced and qualified therapists can help you develop a treatment plan to manage anxiety symptoms and take control of your life. Reach out to Talkspace today to learn more.

See References

Famous Erwin

Famous Erwin is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of counseling experience. He is licensed in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Idaho. Famous is a team member of theTalkspace Council of Mental Health Experts. Famous loves working as a therapist on the talkspace platform. At Talkspace, Everyday is exciting because he has an opportunity to do what he loves and that’s helping people overcome life’s challenges through effective life skills and coping skills. Famous has a passion for working with men. Traditionally, men don’t seek counseling so as a male therapist, Famous ensures the men that he works with that counseling is a safe place to be vulnerable.

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