Magnesium for Anxiety: A Science-Backed Natural Stress Cure

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Certain forms of magnesium help relieve symptoms of anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Magnesium is a relatively inexpensive essential mineral sold in capsule form in most grocery and health food stores. Other natural remedies for anxiety, like CBD or microdosing mushrooms, are much more expensive and less accessible, which makes magnesium an attractive alternative.

Our team of providers at PrimeHealth has been using magnesium as a treatment for anxiety with great success. It’s one of the best side-effect-free options for calming an anxious nervous system. Ensuring that magnesium levels through nutrient testing is critical when dealing with feelings of anxiousness. 

I’ve found magnesium bis-glycinate and threonate forms to be essential in helping to relax the nervous system, reduce muscle tension, and support fatigue related to anxiety and depression. Taking a dose in the morning and before bed has provided optimal results in helping my patients reduce anxiety.

Disclaimer: We may receive a small commission from products you purchase via links in this article.

If you’re in Colorado, we’d love to find an individualized holistic treatment plan for your anxiety symptoms, too. 

How Magnesium Works to Treat Anxiety

Anxiety can be triggered by a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. It often results from an overactive stress response and imbalances in brain chemistry.

Magnesium may improve symptoms of anxiety disorders due to the way it impacts the nervous system. This mineral acts as a natural relaxant, influencing the function of neurotransmitters and receptors involved in stress and anxiety modulation.

Studies show how magnesium’s influence on neurotransmitters, including serotonin, is essential for mood regulation.

Magnesium plays a pivotal role in maintaining the balance of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter with calming effects on the brain. It binds to GABA receptors, enhancing GABA’s inhibitory actions, which, in turn, reduce neuronal excitability and help calm the nervous system.

Additionally, magnesium regulates the function of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which are involved in controlling the release of stress hormones like adrenaline.

By modulating these receptors, magnesium helps dampen the release of stress hormones. The effect is an overall reduction of the body’s physiological response to stress and anxiety. 

Best Type of Magnesium for Anxiety Treatment

When purchasing magnesium supplements, you have many options to choose from. Each has unique benefits and absorption rates. For instance, magnesium citrate is known for its high bioavailability, while magnesium glycinate is popular for its calming effects.

In the process of developing our own magnesium supplement, we found these ingredients led to a highly bioavailable option for our patients:

  • Magnesium lysinate glycinate (mineral amino acid chelate)
  • Chelated dimagnesium malate
  • Malic acid (from di-magnesium malate)

Before starting a new supplement regimen, talk to a healthcare provider about your unique situation and needs. None of the suggestions in this guide should replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified provider.

Natural Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium-rich food sources play an important role in bodily functions, including anxiety management. Integrating these into your diet can contribute significantly to magnesium intake and, consequently, better mental health.

Natural dietary sources of magnesium include: 

  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Dark chocolate
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Magnesium-rich water from natural springs

Although magnesium is found in foods, the amount of magnesium in the soil today differs greatly to that of even 20 years ago. Most people need magnesium supplementation to make up for this deficiency.

Lifestyle Changes and Supplementary Tips

Complementing magnesium intake with lifestyle changes, such as stress management techniques and regular exercise, can help reduce anxiety better than one remedy alone. 

Techniques like mindfulness, yoga, or deep breathing exercises all work in tandem with magnesium’s effects, fostering a holistic approach to anxiety management.

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Side Effects and Interactions

Magnesium is an incredibly safe supplement and comes with a wide range of health benefits. Any side effects and drug interactions are mild but still good to be aware of.

Side Effects

  • Diarrhea: High doses of magnesium can have a laxative effect and lead to diarrhea. The same isn’t true for magnesium-rich foods, as your body filters out the excess naturally from food sources.
  • Abdominal Cramps: Some people may experience cramps or abdominal pain, usually along with diarrhea.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Excessive magnesium intake may cause stomach discomfort and nausea.
  • Dehydration: Diarrhea caused by magnesium can lead to dehydration.
  • Low Blood Pressure: In rare cases, magnesium can cause a drop in blood pressure.
  • Muscle Weakness: Excessive magnesium intake may lead to muscle weakness.

Drug Interactions

  • Antibiotics: Magnesium may interact with certain antibiotics, reducing their absorption.
  • Bisphosphonates: Magnesium may interfere with the absorption of bisphosphonates used for bone health.
  • Muscle Relaxants: Combining magnesium with muscle relaxants may enhance their effects, leading to excessive muscle relaxation. This may cause excessive fatigue, among other issues.
  • Blood Pressure Medications: Magnesium can interact with certain antihypertensive drugs, possibly causing a further decrease in blood pressure.
  • Diuretics: Magnesium can enhance the effects of diuretics, leading to electrolyte imbalances.
  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents: Magnesium may enhance the effects of neuromuscular blocking agents used during surgery.

If you want to use magnesium for mild anxiety, talk to your primary healthcare professional first about potential interactions with any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take.


What type of magnesium is good for anxiety?

Magnesium glycinate is often considered a good choice for anxiety. It has high bioavailability, meaning the body readily absorbs it, and the glycine component may help lower cortisol and have a calming effect.

Does magnesium deficiency cause mental health symptoms?

Research shows a link between low magnesium levels and several mental disorders, especially depression. Magnesium deficiency can impact mental health due to its involvement in neurotransmitter regulation, including serotonin.

How do I know if I’m getting enough magnesium to treat my depression symptoms?

We typically recommend 300-400mg of magnesium daily as a treatment option to alleviate anxiety, improve sleep, promote brain health, and enhance overall wellness. The right dosage of magnesium for you will vary based on factors like age, sex, and health conditions.

What are the other benefits of taking magnesium?

When you take magnesium for anxiety, you also contribute positively to many other functions in your body, including:

  • Muscle and nerve function: Magnesium acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in the transfer of energy during muscle contractions.
  • Immune system: Magnesium enhances the activity of white blood cells and is involved in the production of antibodies, helping the body defend against infections and illnesses.
  • Regulating blood sugar & blood pressure: Magnesium facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells, relaxes blood vessels (good for migraines), blocks calcium entry, and supports the inner lining of vessels. Optimal magnesium levels over a long period of time may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Bone strength: Magnesium contributes to bone mineralization and density.
  • Energy production: Magnesium is a cofactor for enzymes involved in ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, the primary energy currency of cells.
  • Sleep quality: In a similar way that magnesium reduces anxiety by regulating the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, it also promotes quality sleep.

What is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety?

The 3-3-3 rule is a relaxation technique designed to help manage anxiety by focusing on the senses. Here’s how it works:

  • Acknowledge 3 Things: Identify and acknowledge 3 things you see around you.
  • Acknowledge 3 Sounds: Pay attention to and acknowledge 3 distinct sounds you can hear.
  • Move 3 Parts of Your Body: Move or gently touch 3 parts of your body, such as your fingers, toes, or shoulders.

How do the different types of magnesium function in the body?

Here are some other common forms of magnesium and their health benefits: 

  • Magnesium Oxide: Commonly used as a supplement, it provides a high dose of elemental magnesium.
  • Magnesium Chloride: Supports muscle function, nerve transmission, and electrolyte balance. This type is commonly used in topical applications, like magnesium sprays, for its absorption through the skin.
  • Magnesium L-Threonate: Known for its potential to cross the blood-brain barrier, this type may enhance cognitive function and memory.
  • Magnesium Sulfate: Also known as “Epsom salt,” this type can be enjoyed in salt baths to alleviate muscle soreness and stress, detoxify the skin, and even work as a laxative to relieve constipation.
  • Magnesium Taurate: Combines magnesium with taurine, offering cardiovascular support and potentially helping with heart health.
  • Magnesium Lactate: Easily absorbed, this type contributes to magnesium levels in the body and may benefit those with digestive sensitivities to other forms.

What other dietary supplements lower anxiety?

Additional supplements that may lower anxiety include omega-3 fatty acids, ashwagandha, and B vitamins (particularly B6, B9 (folate), and B12).

What supplements should I avoid with anxiety?

If you suffer from anxiety, you should avoid anything that stimulates your nervous system, like caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol.

Discuss Magnesium With Your Healthcare Provider

If you’re concerned about anxiety or an overcharged nervous system, talk to a provider about starting magnesium. It’s generally safe with few side effects for most people, and it may be one step towards getting the relief you need.

A PrimeHealth provider can help you learn how to work magnesium into a holistic approach to mental health concerns.

Take the first step towards a holistic approach to anxiety relief. If you’re in Colorado, schedule an appointment with PrimeHealth’s experienced holistic doctors today and embark on a personalized journey toward better mental well-being.


  1. Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety and stress—a systematic review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429.
  2. Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The role and the effect of magnesium in mental disorders: a systematic review. Nutrients, 12(6), 1661.
  3. Jacka, F. N., Overland, S., Stewart, R., Tell, G. S., Bjelland, I., & Mykletun, A. (2009). Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(1), 45-52.
  4. Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The role and the effect of magnesium in mental disorders: a systematic review.Nutrients, 12(6), 1661.
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