Why does magnesium help with anxiety?
Magnesium really is a super-mineral in terms of what it does for the body: it helps to support your energy levels, is pivotal for your muscles and joints and can even help to ease period cramps. It’s not that surprising then, to learn that it might also be able to play a role in easing your levels of anxiety.
I even discuss this potential in my blog ‘Nutrient deficiencies that are making you more anxious’ as low magnesium levels often contribute to problems like stress and anxiety. Here though, I’m going to expand upon some of the reasons I mentioned in this previous blog, as well as introduce a few new ones!
1. Magnesium can convert tryptophan into serotonin
When it comes to your mood, serotonin matters. In my blog ‘How does serotonin affect our emotions?’ I really go into detail about this feel-good neurotransmitter so definitely put this blog on your read list if you want to be more clued up about serotonin. In the meantime, for those not in the know, serotonin can help to maintain a healthy mood balance, even helping to regulate your sleep patterns. This is particularly important if you suffer from anxiety as poor sleep may exacerbate your symptoms and vice-versa! Basically, magnesium helps here by converting an amino acid tryptophan, into serotonin, actively aiding its production!
2. Magnesium helps to regulate the HPA axis
What exactly is your HPA axis? Your hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis is at the heart of your stress response system and can encourage the secretion of hormones such as cortisol, which can exacerbate anxiety and other related emotions such as stress. Magnesium helps by reducing the over-activity of this axis, thus reducing your cortisol levels. Not only is this useful for easing anxiety, it can also help to support your blood pressure and relieve other symptoms associated with high levels of cortisol, such as inflammation and fluctuating blood glucose.
3. Magnesium is needed to maintain healthy GABA levels
GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, is your brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that can help your mind and body to relax, improving sleep and preventing anxiety. In cases where GABA is low, it can promote problems like insomnia and anxiety, but this is once again where magnesium can help. It helps to bind to GABA receptors in the brain and stimulates their action which can increase their presence.
4. Magnesium is needed for vitamin D absorption
When you think of vitamin D, you probably think of other complementary minerals such as calcium or phosphorus, but actually, in order activate vitamin D, you need plenty of magnesium first. This can be important when it comes to your mood as low levels of vitamin D can cause symptoms such as low mood, fatigue or even poor sleep! It doesn’t help that here in the UK our exposure to vitamin D is often limited thanks to the unpredictable weather that we enjoy year-round, so you really need to absorb and utilise it well within the body.
So, as you can see, magnesium can be pretty useful when it comes to anxiety but, unfortunately, lifestyle factors can deplete your stores of this nutrient. Certain foods and drinks, for example, can prevent your body from absorbing this nutrient properly – caffeinated and fizzy drinks are the main culprits here! You also have to consider that your demand for magnesium can also increase in certain situations. For example, it’s generally recommended that menstruating and menopausal women look at gently increasing their magnesium levels.
Finally, and perhaps most unfairly, simply experiencing stress or anxiety can also leech away at your levels of magnesium. This is because, during your stress response, your body will direct nutrients to key areas of your body, such as your heart, lungs and muscles, thus using up your stores of these nutrients and increasing your demand.
How much magnesium should I take for anxiety?
The NHS recommends that we should all be getting between 270-300mg of magnesium a day, although most experts feel that this is too low.1 Ideally, we should be able to source all the magnesium that we need from our diets – there are plenty of foods out there that are chockfull of magnesium!
||Magnesium content (mg)
|Pumpkin seeds (50g)
|Spinach (1 cup)
|Swiss chard (1 cup)
|Dark chocolate (1 square)
|Avocado (1 medium)
|Banana (1 medium)
It also helps that your body is better prepared to absorb magnesium when it comes from the foods that you eat. However, as I have mentioned, there are times when you might want to consider giving your magnesium levels an additional boost. If you’re experiencing a period of anxiety, this could be one instance when (for reasons I’ve already specified!) you might wish to consider increasing your intake. Just make sure you do so sensibly – remember, it is possible to have too much of a good thing!
When it comes to magnesium, too much can be just as detrimental as too little, so make sure you that if you are taking a supplement, it doesn’t exceed 350mg!
Which type of magnesium should I take for anxiety
When it comes to the type of magnesium you should take, ideally you want a form that’s going to be well-absorbed by your body. Unfortunately, the majority of magnesium supplements out there come in the form of tablets, which have to be broken down by your digestive system first before you can reap the benefits. This can then present problems, especially if you suffer from poor digestion!
That’s why, here at A.Vogel, we tend to recommend liquid supplements as these are usually better absorbed meaning no magnesium goes to waste! As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to overload your body with a high dose – gentle is always best! That’s why you might want to consider our Balance Mineral Drink which contains a healthy dose of magnesium (112.5mg!) in addition to a range of other important nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, potassium and zinc!
This combination is excellent for helping to support not only your intake of magnesium, but also your energy levels as a whole, fighting fatigue and keeping you nice and hydrated. It’s also simple and easy to take, especially if you’re not too fond of the aftertaste that often accompanies liquid supplements and tinctures! Just mix one sachet with water for a fuss-free, delicious strawberry-flavoured drink.