Magnesium for OCD

  • 1st Revision: Maura Mary Joseph


Magnesium is one of the most common minerals present on earth and is found to be present in many foods. It is crucial for human health and is utilised in approximately 600 cellular reactions in your body.1 Magnesium on the chemical level helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn enables you to get calm and relaxed. Hence why the effects of magnesium can have a positive effect on an individual with OCD.

OCD its full form being obsessive compulsive disorder is a common mental health disorder in which a person has continuous obsessive and compulsive behaviours. For example, if you feel that you are going to be robbed in your home you may feel the need to check whether the doors and windows are locked constantly when leaving the house. OCD can affect anyone and usually people experience these symptoms in early phases of their life such as early adulthood maybe add an age range.2

Symptoms of OCD: a heading should be more obvious

OCD consists of two main symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. It is also possible that some people may only experience one of these symptoms. The symptoms you experience as a part of OCD may affect your day-to-day life.Obsessions or compulsions can distract you and reduces your ability to pay attention.3

Obsessions are varied thoughts, for example, a few themes consist of:

Worries about illness; germs harming self or others; saying something inappropriate; organising things in an aligned or symmetrical manner ; explicit thoughts of sexual or violent acts; worries around throwing things away; a sense of sexual desires or orientation repetition?; worries about loved ones in terms of safety and health; intrusive thoughts; images or words.3

These thoughts are repetitive and come back even if you try to ignore them or suppress them. When trying to suppress them it may feel like the implications of these thoughts are actually true.3

Compulsions in OCD include: change font size

Washing hands or body repeatedly; alignment of objects in a specific way; repetition of phrases or counting; seeking reassurance from others; collecting several of the same items; hiding objects that you could use to potentially harm someone with; mentally thinking whether your actions harmed anyone.3

How does magnesium affect OCD

Research has shown that magnesium is an essential cation involved in the healthy functioning of the nervous system. Additionally, it has been found to be useful in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.For example, magnesium has been shown to be low in people who have depression.4 

At the moment, there is no direct link between magnesium and OCD. It is not a well-researched area therefore, there is not much evidence on the benefits it may have due to the lack of study. However, in a study carried out it was found that supplements containing magnesium may potentially ease the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety conditions such as OCD. However, the exact association between the two is needed in order to make a clear link that magnesium can help cure OCD.5

Magnesium is important for the supplying of energy to the body. This is due to magnesium playing an important role in the breakdown of glucose into blood sugar. The cerebral energy in your brain is linked to anxiety and social behaviours. Stress can cause OCD. Magnesium helps calm the stress-activated nervous system when experiencing OCD. Magnesium can help as it regulates the central nervous system. It helps with the slow release of excited neurotransmitters. 

OCD is a pattern of unwanted thoughts and obsessions (typically based on your fears) that can lead you to carry out repeated behaviours. People with OCD contain an influx of excited neurotransmitters which causes the brain to think constantly of these thoughts and urges. Therefore, magnesium can help ease this repeated cycle. This is has been proven in a study that displayed that 48 patients with OCD were shown to have a decreased level of zinc, iron, and magnesium.6 

Which magnesium is best for OCD:

Magnesium is well known for its positive effects on stress and mood. Low magnesium levels have not only been linked to anxiety but has also been linked to higher levels of stress, depression; Sleep disturbances; muscles, and fatigue.7

The best way to intake magnesium is to look at our diet initially. Consuming healthy foods are a good way to build magnesium levels. The following foods are good for building your magnesium such as7

  • Leafy Greens: this includes spinach, kale, and collard greens
  • Beans: such as kidney beans, edamame, and black beans
  • Whole grains: such as quinoa and brown rice
  • Nuts: such as almonds, cashew nuts, and Brazilian nuts

Overall, the best form of intake for magnesium is through leafy vegetables.

There are also magnesium supplements. The two most commonly prescribed forms of magnesium are oxide and citrate. These forms of magnesium easily pass through your digestive system without being absorbed into the body. It is important to seek medical advice if you want to take magnesium supplements.  

How much magnesium should I take for OCD?

The recommended daily intake for healthy people is 310mg to 420mg and is different for both men and women. However, people with OCD or any mental health disorder may need a higher dose. You need to consult your doctor about the dose of magnesium you require. The range at which magnesium can be prescribed for anxiety, depression, or OCD can be between 400-1800 mg for men and women. 

Side effects and other concerns:

Too much intake of magnesium can cause side effects such as

Diarrhea, Lethargy, Irregular heartbeats, Respiratory disease, respiratory distress, cardiac arrest, urine retention, facial flushing, hypotension, muscle weakness, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramping. If you take too much magnesium it may lead to serious complications and doctors will have to provide an IV to reverse the effects. Dialysis could also be required to flush out the excess. Therefore it is important to consult your doctor regarding this.


In summary there is no exact association between magnesium and OCD due to it having a lack of evidence. There also has not been much research carried out on the specific effects of magnesium to help with  OCD. However, it has been shown to have effects on the easing of stress, depression, and anxiety. Magnesium has also been found to help reduce excited neurotransmitters in the brain to make them more relaxed. This can be helpful to people with OCD as they have excited neurotransmitters. However, it is important to seek advice from professionals if you want to take magnesium supplements to help with your OCD. In conclusion, there is no clear association between the two due to a lack of evidence.


  1. How magnesium can help you sleep [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 24]. Available from:
  2. Overview - Obsessive compulsive disorder (Ocd) [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Jan 24]. Available from:
  3. Everything you want to know about ocd [Internet]. Healthline. 2021 [cited 2023 Jan 26]. Available from:
  4. Botturi A, Ciappolino V, Delvecchio G, Boscutti A, Viscardi B, Brambilla P. The role and the effect of magnesium in mental disorders: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 3;12(6):1661.
  5. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010 Oct 7;9:42.
  6. Kuygun Karcı C, Gül Celik G. Nutritional and herbal supplements in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Gen Psychiatr [Internet]. 2020 Mar 11 [cited 2023 Jan 28];33(2):e100159. Available from:
  7. Chandra S. Best forms of magnesium for anxiety and depression [Internet]. SURUCHI CHANDRA M.D. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 28]. 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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Jolanda Roberts

Masters of Science- MSc Psychological Therapies in Mental Health, Queen Mary University of London
Bachelor of Science- BSc Psychology with Neuroscience

Jolanda is currently an Assistant Psychologist within the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She has built a plethora of skills within research, hospitals and community settings. She is dedicated to spreading Mental Health Awareness among people from all backgrounds and is knowledgeable in applying theoretical concepts to real-life scenarios. In the future, Jolanda aspires to qualify as a Clinical Psychologist and provide the best holistic care to meet individual needs in a compassion-driven way.

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