Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/18/2022
Living with anxiety means experiencing intense feelings of stress, nervousness or even fear on a regular basis. Needless to say, it can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life.
Anxiety isn’t something anyone wants to live with on a day-to-day. Understandably, those struggling with this mental health condition seek out various forms of relief — from clinical treatments to alternative therapies that seem more natural.
Some even think crystals can help with anxiety.
Another avenue people pursue is taking a magnesium supplement to help lower symptoms of anxiety. But before you do this, it’s important to understand whether magnesium really is an effective option, what side effects could occur and how to take it safely.
Before diving into whether or not magnesium is good for anxiety disorders, it’s helpful to know what it is, exactly.
Simply put, magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral in your body that’s responsible for several vital functions. A majority of magnesium lives in your muscles and bones. In fact, it plays a crucial role in keeping your bones healthy.
Magnesium also helps with energy production, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation and protein synthesis.
Research has found that some people don’t get enough magnesium from food sources alone. Beyond that, there are a number of reasons a person may take magnesium supplements.
Supposed benefits include helping with stress and muscle weakness. And as mentioned, some folks think it reduces levels of anxiety.
Some research shows people with certain mental health disorders have low levels of magnesium in their bodies. A 2012 study found that those with depression (along with other psychiatric disorders) had a deficiency.
These findings might be why some individuals think magnesium supplements could help reduce anxiety symptoms. But does it actually work?
Research suggests it might. One reason it could potentially help? Magnesium may alter levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) in the body. However, more studies need to be conducted before this can be fully confirmed.
A 2017 review found that magnesium supplements may help with symptoms of mild anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder and anxiety caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While this is promising news to those searching for relief, the report also noted that more research needs to be done.
Interested in taking magnesium for anxiety? You should know there are a number of different types of daily magnesium supplements on the market, and they’re not all created equal.
One of the more common supplements you’ll find is magnesium citrate. Bound with citric acid, research shows it’s easily absorbed by the body.
Other easily absorbed formulas include magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride and magnesium aspartate.
Then there’s magnesium taurate. A 2019 study found that taking this supplement was associated with decreased anxiety indicators. That said, it also found that magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide didn’t have the same effect.
There are a few ways to get magnesium through supplements. Dissolvable tablets and capsules are popular options, but it’s also available in powder, liquid and even chewable gummy form.
As for how much you should take, there are no specific guidelines for those using it for anxiety. But you can follow the general guidelines set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which recommends dosages by age and gender. For adult women, the NIH suggests a daily dose of magnesium between 310 and 320 milligrams.
The mineral is also found naturally in foods, so you can get it through dietary intake. Magnesium-rich foods include nuts, seeds, leafy greens, milk and yogurt. However, no research currently shows how magnesium intake through food affects anxiety.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to treat anxiety, making sure you’re getting enough magnesium is still crucial. Severe magnesium deficiency may result in muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat or even seizures.
Generally speaking, magnesium supplementation is considered safe and with few side effects — as long as you don’t take too much. Adults should try to limit their daily allowance to 350 milligrams.
Excess magnesium in the body might be met with uncomfortable side effects, like diarrhea, nausea or abdominal cramping. And if you take too much, it could lead to an irregular heartbeat or even cardiac arrest.
Beyond potential side effects, you should be careful when mixing medications. For instance, magnesium can affect the absorbency of antibiotics and have poor interactions with diuretics, acid reflux medicine, high doses of zinc and bisphosphonates (which treat osteoporosis).
Before starting magnesium supplementation, talk to a healthcare professional, and let them know if you’re currently taking other medications or vitamins.
Anxiety is a very common mental health condition. Since it can have a substantial impact on your physical well-being and happiness, finding an effective therapy is definitely worthwhile.
Some people believe taking one of the forms of magnesium supplements (like a tablet or gummy) can help. While some research suggests it may offer relief from anxiety symptoms, more studies need to be done before we can say for sure.
Magnesium is a vital nutrient that helps with many bodily functions. So whether you have anxiety or not, it’s not a bad idea to get magnesium from supplements. And unless you take too much, there are little to no side effects.