Magnesium and anxiety
Persistent excessive worry, nervousness, fear, and apprehension are all symptoms of anxiety. This common mental health disorder affects over 2 million Australians every year. Finding relief from anxiety is often tricky, but research suggests it may be beneficial to simply increase your daily intake of a common, yet often underrated, mineral called magnesium.
Magnesium – the essential nutrient for all
Magnesium is essential to human health. It is involved in over 300 biochemical processes and activities in the body, including protein production, muscle activity, nerve function and energy production. This mineral may be helpful in anxiety as it provides a relaxing and calming effect on the nervous system, reduces muscular tension, and moderates the release of stress hormones.
Anxiety and magnesium
Not having enough magnesium in your diet can lead to a deficiency, which has been associated with anxiety. Studies also show that stress and anxiety can cause increased loss of magnesium from the body through eliminatory pathways, such as urine. So even adequate dietary intakes may not be enough when anxious, with research finding that magnesium supplementation may be beneficial for mild to moderate anxiety in adults.4
Diets may be lacking
Foods rich in magnesium are wholegrains, green vegetables, legumes, avocados, bananas, figs, dark chocolate, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, and fish. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one third of Australians do not consume enough of these foods and are thus magnesium deficient.
In addition, optimal magnesium levels are often difficult to obtain as certain medications, chronic health conditions, malabsorption disorders, stress and over consumption of alcohol, caffeine, salt, sugar and processed foods contribute to magnesium losses from the body. Therefore, magnesium supplementation may be required for many people.
The best magnesium supplement
Amongst the many different forms of magnesium supplements, research has shown magnesium citrate to be one of the most readily absorbable in the human body. Magnesium citrate supplementation delivering 300-600mg of elemental Magnesium every day (can be taken in small doses over the day) is recommended, in consultation with a healthcare practitioner.
Magnesium is vital for a healthy functioning nervous system and even more important during times of stress and anxiety, or when deficiencies are present. Magnesium supplementation has shown great promise in treating anxiety.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.
- Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs & Natural Supplements. An evidence-based guide. 4th Chatswood: Elsevier; 2015. p1362.
- Grases G, Perez-Castello JA, Sanchis P, et al. Anxiety and stress among science students. Study of calcium and magnesium alterations. Magnes 2006;19(2):102-6.
- Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress-a systematic review. Nutrients 2017; 9(5):429.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12. Cat. No. (4364.0). Canberra: ABS.
- Murray MT, Pizzorno J. The encyclopedia of natural medicine. 3rd New York: Atria Paperback; 2012. p1219.