magnesium and anxiety

Magnesium and Anxiety

A recent review of the literature suggests that magnesium may confer a benefit to those suffering from anxiety, although further studies need to be done because most of them were poorly designed. Human and animal studies done over the last twenty years suggest magnesium has a possible role in managing  stress, depression and anxiety for  certain populations. Learn a little about magnesium and it’s a benefit on these pages.


Magnesium and Anxiety: Facts about Deficiency

Estimates are that up to 70 percent of Americans don’t get enough magnesium from their diets. Some foods that contain magnesium are swiss chard and spinach, almonds, flax seeds, cashews, and soy nuts, avocados, pumpkin seeds. Magnesium is especially low among those who consume large quantities of processed food and refined carbohydrates.

All kinds of people with health problems are at risk for magnesium deficiencies. Heavy drinkers, the elderly and those with gastrointestinal diseases to name a few. Metabolic pathways rely on magnesium for insulin secretion and blood glucose control so those who have type 2 diabetes are some who need to be concerned. In alcoholics and people who are undergoing alcoholic withdrawal magnesium deficiencies be common. In diabetics, magnesium loss is secreted in their urine. Low levels of magnesium are also implicated in osteoporosis and asthma. Supplementation with magnesium can help these patients and also those with fibromyalgia.Your heart couldn’t work without magnesium and it can help prevent myocardial infarctions and stroke. supplements are also used to help patients with cardiac arrhythmias.

Magnesium is not just for physical health but just as vital to brain function. Magnesium is important for stress regulation and mood. Studies have shown that magnesium prevents loss of synapses and maintains synaptic plasticity in experimental models of Alzheimer’ s disease. It is believed it plays a role in protecting cognitive function. Researchers now report that magnesium regulates levels of vitamin D, a nutrient that plays many roles in the nervous system. Magnesium deficiency is found in 80% of patients with depression! One study also found low levels of Mg in the cerebral spinal fluid of suicidal patients.

Magnesium and Anxiety: Facts about Depression

Rats who are deprived of magnesium display depressive-like symptoms and this can be relieved by administering antidepressants. Humans who have magnesium poor diets and low magnesium levels have been shown to have associated depressive symptomatically and suicidal ideation. Magnesium intake reduces depression in mice. In humans doses of 450 mg of depression for 12 weeks is effective at alleviating depression in elderly patients with type II diabetes. Studies have also shown magnesium has been effective in clients who have bipolar disorder and also helpful for depression that is associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Magnesium and Anxiety: Does it help?

The anti-anxiety properties of magnesium have been demonstrated on rodents.

1)Mice who have their magnesium levels depleted show elevated states of anxiety.

2)Blood and brain levels of mice with elevated anxiety also show depleted magnesium.

3)Finally, supplementing levels of magnesium to mice demonstrates reduced anxiety behaviors.

In humans we know those who are experiencing test anxiety related to exposure to stressful exam conditions demonstrated  increased urinary Magnesium excretion, resulting in a partial reduction of Mg levels. Other studies have shown other stressful situations where humans excrete magnesium through their urine and reduce their magnesium levels. Further, some studies have shown dietary levels of magnesium intake have been modestly inversely associated with
reported anxiety in a large community-based adult sample

Why might Magnesium Help with Anxiety?


Magnesium and the Stress Response

Magnesium modulates the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is our central stress response system. The HPA axis is the interweaving of the central nervous system and the endocrine system. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to weaken our stress response system, and in this way seems to have an impact on anxiety.

Magnesium and the NDMA receptor

Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor
 (also known as the NMDA receptor  or NMDAR), is a glutamate 
 and ion channel protein found in nerve cells. Magnesium reduces neuronal hyperexcitability by inhibiting NMDA receptor activity.


GABA is a primary inhibitory transmitter in the Central Nervous System that counterbalances the excitatory action of glutamate. Magnesium may additionally modulate anxiety via increasing GABAergic availability by decreasing presynaptic glutamate release.

The impact of magnesium on symptoms of anxiety and depression is a new area of research. Although there seem to be  positive associations between magnesium intake and a decrease of anxious and depressive symptoms, there is no definitive conclusion as to the impact of magnesium on anxiety in humans. If you are interested in trying anxiety supplementation make sure to consult with your doctor to determine if it’s safe for you to take a supplement before trying
it. Magnesium levels can be checked with a blood test.

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Magnesium and Anxiety References


The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. (2017).

(5), 429. doi: 10.3390/nu9050429

Marano, H. (2019). A Mind for Magnesium.
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