Magnesium For Anxiety

Have you ever lain in bed and couldn't get comfortable - tossing and turning continuously? This could be a sign of low magnesium. Magnesium is sometimes referred to as a ‘stress mineral’. Some studies have shown that people who lack magnesium are more prone to anxiety and depression than other people.1 

One review of a number of studies indicated that a higher intake of magnesium from the diet is associated with lower depressive symptoms such as anxiety.2 In this article, you’ll learn more about the benefits of magnesium for anxiety and the best sources of magnesium to help with anxiety.

Understanding magnesium

Without getting too technical, magnesium is a mineral essential for helping regulate many biochemical reactions in the body. It is particularly required for the reactions producing energy in the body and for the correct functioning of the muscles and nerves.  

Magnesium is naturally present in many plant and animal foods. However, some food processing, for example refining whole grains, significantly lowers magnesium content.

Common symptoms of magnesium deficiency include: 

  1. Sleep disturbances
  2. Muscle spasms
  3. Hormonal imbalances
  4. Anxiety
  5. Depression

The importance and benefits of magnesium

Magnesium plays a vital role in how the body functions properly.3

Magnesium is an essential mineral with other potential health benefits beyond just helping with anxiety symptoms. Some of the other health benefits of adequate magnesium levels obtained through intake from food or magnesium supplements include:

  1. Helping prevent constipation
  2. Improving sleep function
  3. Reducing pain intensity
  4. Controlling blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
  5. Managing high blood pressure
  6. Improving mood
  7. Preventing or managing migraines and headaches
  8. Improving bone health
  9. Producing beneficial antioxidants in the body

Magnesium for anxiety

A review of studies conducted in humans indicated a reduction of self-reported (subjective) levels of mild and moderate anxiety from taking magnesium supplements for periods of 6-12 weeks.3

How does it affect anxiety?

Magnesium affects many of your body’s functions, especially your muscles, nerves, and ability to relax. Low magnesium levels have been linked to mood problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.4 This effect may be due to its positive impact on the activity of the brain network known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which helps regulate the stress response in the body.5

In people living with anxiety, the HPA axis is dysregulated. Magnesium supports how the HPA axis functions, thereby improving stress and anxiety levels. Magnesium also supports the critical functioning of the nervous system by supporting the balance of various neurotransmitters, which helps to improve neurological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. 

However, the limited study sizes are a significant drawback in substantiating magnesium’s benefits for anxiety and more research is required in this field.6

Recent studies suggest that magnesium does play a vital role in helping manage anxiety. But more verification is needed, and some researchers think that existing studies do not provide enough evidence for magnesium’s role.

For example, the results of a study conducted in 2010 suggested that magnesium has a beneficial effect on anxiety but indicated that additional research is needed to prove its benefits.3

Several other studies have also shown some potential benefits associated with magnesium, such as another 2012 study, in which researchers found that magnesium may help a part of your brain called the hypothalamus.5

The hypothalamus controls the adrenal gland by stimulating the pituitary gland. All three are essential in helping you manage stress.3

A review of research published in 2018 noted that magnesium controls the brain’s neurotransmitters.7 Neurotransmitters help your body and brain exchange messages effectively. When the signal works correctly, it helps improve overall neurological health, including helping to reduce anxiety. The review concluded that there is emerging data to suggest a benign impact of magnesium on anxiety.

Despite these promising studies, more research is still needed to probe the effectiveness and safety of magnesium for anxiety. Therefore, it would be best if you didn’t stop taking your medication if you have been prescribed it for anxiety.3

Also, you should consult your doctor before adding a magnesium supplement to your diet. Your doctor will confirm if you need one or if a magnesium supplement would benefit you.

Best sources of magnesium for anxiety

Magnesium can be obtained from several sources. It is naturally present in many foods of both plant and animal origin, especially green leafy vegetables and fibrous plant foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Magnesium supplements are another available source and magnesium may also be combined with other vitamins and minerals in a multi-vitamin product. 

While magnesium supplements are a good source to boost levels in the body, they have the disadvantage that it is possible to take more than the recommended daily amount, which can produce side effects. Therefore, before starting a magnesium supplement, and in fact any new supplement, it is important to discuss this with your doctor to determine the correct dosage, potential side effects, and interactions with prescribed drugs.

Food sources of magnesium

Magnesium is present naturally as a nutrient in many foods. But you may need to use supplements to get sufficient doses to manage your anxiety symptoms, particularly as stress tends to further deplete the body of magnesium.6

Some foods that are excellent sources of magnesium include:

  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Milk
  • Soy milk
  • Avocado
  • Rice
  • Apples
  • Halibut
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beef mince 
  • Chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Potatoes
  • Salmon

Magnesium supplements

Supplements give you a more significant amount of magnesium than you might be able to get through diet alone. Although they may provide enough daily magnesium to make a difference with anxiety symptoms, they may also, potentially, produce side effects.

However, magnesium supplements are generally safe, but taking too much can cause side effects.8 Note that vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); hence, the FDA often does not check that a supplement contains the amount specified in the bottle or quantity.

Also, due to this lack of FDA regulation of quality, when shopping for supplements, it is essential to do more research to choose the best magnesium supplements.

Additionally, the supplements may interact negatively with some prescribed drugs.

Below are some medications magnesium may interact with:

  • Antibiotics
  • Proton pump inhibitors (used to reduce stomach acid production)
  • Diuretics
  • Bisphosphonates (used to treat osteoporosis)


Can magnesium deficiency cause anxiety?

Yes, magnesium deficiency can cause anxiety. Low magnesium levels have been linked to problems with mood, including anxiety disorders and depression.5,6,7 

How much magnesium should I take to calm anxiety?

Studies still don’t fully support taking magnesium for the treatment of anxiety. This means that no main dosage is explicitly recommended for anxiety. However, according to a literature review published in 2017, the average doses of magnesium producing benefits ranged between 75 to 360 milligrams (mg) daily.3

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium ranges between 310 and 420 mg for adults. The exact dosage that is safe for you can vary based on several factors, such as age, health status, and gender.8

Children and teens would require lesser dosages. Before taking magnesium supplements, it is important to emphasise again that you should talk with your doctor because magnesium can interact with your prescribed drugs or cause side effects.

How quickly does magnesium work for anxiety?

How quickly magnesium may work for anxiety depends on several factors, such as your health condition, type of magnesium in the supplement, and your existing level of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is a fast-acting nutrient so potentially, supplementation can show benefits within a week. The type of magnesium supplement you’re taking is also a factor - e.g. supplements containing magnesium oxide will take longer to start working because they have a zero to four percent absorption rate.

Magnesium citrate in its ionic form is more absorbable and so acts more quickly. It is also one of the best magnesium supplements for aiding anxiety and stress symptoms.3


Magnesium is a naturally occurring nutrient in food and affects many of your body’s functions, especially your muscles, nerves, and ability to relax. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to mood problems such as anxiety disorders and depression.4 Recent studies suggest that magnesium does play a vital role in helping manage anxiety. However, more verification of evidence is needed.

Discuss it with your doctor if you plan to take magnesium supplements. Your doctor will help you identify any potential drug interactions if you take other medications and determine the best action plan to commence taking magnesium supplements.

When your doctor confirms it is safe to take magnesium supplements, ask them for recommendations on good brands to buy. Also, stay consistent with the time you take your magnesium supplements. Then figure out what works best for you and your needs. By adapting to the right plan, you will find that magnesium supplements in your treatment routine may help manage your anxiety symptoms. 


  1. Rajizadeh A, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Yassini-Ardakani M, Dehghani A. Effect of magnesium supplementation on depression status in depressed patients with magnesium deficiency: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition [Internet]. 2017 Mar [cited 2022 Dec 13];35:56–60. Available from:
  2. Derom ML, Sayón-Orea C, Martínez-Ortega JM, Martínez-González MA. Magnesium and depression: a systematic review. Nutritional Neuroscience [Internet]. 2013 Sep [cited 2022 Dec 13];16(5):191–206. Available from:
  3. Boyle N, Lawton C, Dye L. The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress—a systematic review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Apr 26 [cited 2022 Dec 13];9(5):429. Available from:
  4. Swaminathan R. Magnesium metabolism and its disorders. Clin Biochem Rev. 2003;24(2):47-66. [cited 2022 Dec 13].Available from:
  5. Sartori SB, Whittle N, Hetzenauer A, Singewald N. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology [Internet]. 2012 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Dec 13];62(1):304–12. Available from:
  6. Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, Bienkowski P, Yaltsewa N, Amessou M, et al. Magnesium status and stress: the vicious circle concept revisited. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Nov 28 [cited 2022 Dec 13];12(12):3672. Available from:
  7. Kirkland A, Sarlo G, Holton K. The role of magnesium in neurological disorders. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 Jun 6 [cited 2022 Dec 13];10(6):730. Available from:
  8. Office of dietary supplements - magnesium [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 13]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Lauretta Iyamu

Doctor of Pharmacy- PharmD, University of Benin, Nigeria

Lauretta Iyamu is a medical and health content writer with a strong passion for health, medicine, and well-being having exposure to clinical and management roles between the hospital and community healthcare sectors.
She has 5 years of experience as a registered clinical pharmacist and started her medical writing career in 2018.
Lauretta is currently undertaking the “Digital Content Marketing and Data Analytics” course online from Google.

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