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Can magnesium help to reduce anxiety?

Blog post | 13 Jun 2023

If at any time you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, call an ambulance on triple zero (000). You can also talk to your family, friends or doctor, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day.

Tight chest, shaky hands, muddled thoughts. These are some of the physical reactions you may experience regularly if you have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in Australia. They affect 1 in 4 Australians at some stage in their life. Anxiety disorders can impact your ability to sleep well, concentrate and enjoy life.

While there are effective ways to manage anxiety, such as psychological therapy, lifestyle measures and medication, there has been a surge of interest in the use of magnesium supplements for managing anxiety.

Here’s what you need to know about anxiety and magnesium.

If you’re struggling with anxiety symptoms that impact your everyday life, you should seek the support of your doctor or a qualified mental health professional.

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is a nutrient important to many essential functions and processes in the body. It helps to ensure your nerves work properly and keeps blood sugar and blood pressure at the right levels.

Magnesium comes from the foods we eat and supplements.

If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, you may experience symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness.

Does magnesium impact on anxiety?

Although magnesium can support your overall health and wellbeing, the relationship between magnesium and anxiety is unclear. Researchers need to conduct more studies to better understand it.

The good news is that some studies (study links, a and b) have identified how magnesium may ease certain symptoms of stress and anxiety. Here are the facts:

  • Magnesium may help to control the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain, resulting in a calming effect on the body.
  • Magnesium may help to manage your stress response system and cortisol levels. Low levels of magnesium in the body can increase stress, and high levels of physical or mental stress can lower magnesium.
  • One of the body’s reactions to stress and anxiety is muscle tension. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for muscle function and helps muscle tissue to relax. A deficiency in magnesium can increase muscle tension and cramps.
  • Magnesium may help with your sleep quality by regulating the neurotransmitter GABA that’s important for sleep. The effect that magnesium has on reducing muscular tension and nervous system regulation may also contribute to a better night’s sleep.

How do I take magnesium?

You can take magnesium via foods that contain it or magnesium supplements.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • green leafy vegetables
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds
  • wholegrains

There are different types of magnesium supplements that you can take. You should speak with your doctor if you’re thinking of taking a magnesium supplement. They can recommend one if needed and advise on the correct dosage.

Does magnesium have side effects?

It’s important to get enough magnesium, but too much can cause diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal cramping — this is known as hypermagnesemia.

Taking a magnesium supplement can also affect the way your body absorbs some medications and antibiotics.

Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about taking magnesium supplements with other medication or if you have any health conditions.

Further information and resources

  • In an emergency, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
  • For crisis support, call Lifeline 13 11 14.
  • For Beyond Blue’s support service, call 1300 22 4636.
  • Find out about online therapy.

Want more like this?

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