The buzz around magnesium supplements and their potential benefits for improving sleep, mood and reducing anxiety has been growing. But how much truth is there to these claims? Are magnesium supplements really beneficial? Let’s find out!
Medical research suggests that magnesium may aid in reducing anxiety. It’s believed to promote relaxation by supporting the production of melatonin and serotonin in our bodies, potentially enhancing mood and sleep quality.
Many people have started supplementing their diet with magnesium to reduce anxiety and improve their overall mood. The experience shared by people after taking magnesium supplements has gained significant traction on social media platforms.
However, the effectiveness of magnesium supplements for helping with anxiety and overall mood has diverse responses from those who have started supplementing their diet with magnesium. So, the question remains: Are magnesium supplements really beneficial?
- What is Magnesium?
- Types of Magnesium Supplements & their Benefits
- Potential Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements
- Magnesium for Mental Health and Improved Mood
- Magnesium for Anxiety
- Magnesium for Sleep
- Is Magnesium Really Beneficial?
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in both physical and mental health. It’s the eighth most common element on earth. It’s a vital nutrient for staying healthy.
According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is involved in numerous bodily processes, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also aids in the production of protein, bone, and DNA.
Magnesium is also linked to improving general mood and helping with mental health conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression.
The requirements for magnesium intake vary based on gender, sex, age, and physical activity. The recommended daily allowance of magnesium for adults ranges between 310 and 420mg. However, studies from the Office of Dietary Supplements consistently show that many people don’t get enough magnesium from their diets, leading to potential magnesium deficiency.
Low levels of magnesium may contribute to metabolic problems like diabetes and heart disease and are connected with migraines and insomnia.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Magnesium Levels and Magnesium Deficiency
- Muscle cramps, pain, spasms, weakness, and stiffness
- Restless leg syndrome
- Migraines and headaches
- Eye twitches
- Anxiety and stress
- Panic attacks
- Irregular heartbeat
- Worsening premenstrual cramps
You can increase your magnesium intake by consuming foods rich in this mineral or by taking magnesium supplements.
Foods High in Magnesium
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
Types of Magnesium Supplements & their Benefits
Magnesium supplements are available in different forms and can be effective for different benefits. As Dr Semenovskaya, medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, explains, “Magnesium is mostly bound to other substances that help transport it into the body and allow it to be absorbed.”
Therefore, the type of supplement you choose will depend on your specific needs.
Here are some common forms of magnesium and their potential benefits:
- Magnesium glycinate – helps with sleep and stress support.
- Magnesium malate – helps to relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
- Magnesium taurate – boosts energy and helps with sleep.
- Magnesium citrate – beneficial for mood and overall relaxation, and high doses can reduce constipation.
- Magnesium threonate – can help to improve memory.
- Magnesium oxide – supports mood, sleep, and stress relief.
Potential Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements
While magnesium supplements generally have few side effects, exceeding the recommended daily dosage can lead to an overdose and cause the following symptoms:
- Low blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Cardiac arrest
Magnesium for Mental Health and Improved Mood
Magnesium plays an important role in mood and mental health. It’s a micronutrient that is thought to help with mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other conditions.
Magnesium activates vitamin D within the body, and higher levels of it help with better sleep and increased energy, thus improving mood.
Magnesium can also improve mood by blocking glutamate from binding to receptor proteins on cell membranes.
According to CentreSpringMD, glutamate “is an excitatory neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in normal brain functions. In excess, it can create overstimulation of cells which may lead to damage and changes in mood like anxiety or depression.” Higher levels of magnesium can help mitigate these mood changes.
They also explain that magnesium “improves the body’s ability to cope with stress. The effects of magnesium can be seen in better HPA axis regulation, which is the network of tissues that communicate a stress response from the brain to the body, and vice versa. It works as you help your muscles start to relax and digest.”
Furthermore, magnesium aids in stress management, sleep improvement, constipation relief, migraine treatment, and energy boosting, all of which can contribute to mood enhancement.
Magnesium for Anxiety
Research indicates that magnesium may be beneficial for reducing anxiety. Several studies have found that lower magnesium levels relate to neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety.
According to the CentreSpringMD, magnesium may help with anxiety “because of its ability to boost brain function and affect cortisol levels in the body.
“Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress, so lowering its levels in the body may have some impact on relieving anxiety.”
Magnesium for Sleep
Magnesium can improve sleep in several ways. It can help treat symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety, which often disrupt sleep.
Magnesium can also improve sleep by binding to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for quieting down nerve activity and is used by sleeping tablets. Thus, by binding to GABA and quieting the nervous system, it could be that magnesium helps prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Moreover, our bodies and brains need to relax in order to sleep well. Magnesium can help with this by triggering the parasympathetic system which is the system that is responsible for keeping us calm and relaxed.
According to Healthline, “It also regulates the hormone melatonin, which guides sleep-wake cycles in your body.” As explained by CentreSpringMD, melatonin “is the main regulator or circadian rhythm–or your natural sleep cycle. Your circadian rhythm regulates many things, including feeling awake and then feeling tired.”
Is Magnesium Really Beneficial?
While scientific evidence suggests that magnesium may be beneficial for anxiety, sleep, and mood enhancement, it’s important to note that these are potential benefits and not guaranteed outcomes.
Several studies have found positive effects of magnesium supplementation. For instance, a 2017 clinical trial concluded that magnesium impacts mild-to-moderate depression in adults. A 2020 systematic review found that when combined with antidepressants, magnesium helps to alleviate depressive symptoms.
Moreover, research has found that people with depression and other psychiatric conditions have lower magnesium levels, suggesting that increasing your magnesium levels should help relieve these conditions.
One study found that taking magnesium supplements helped shorten the time it took to fall asleep, reduced waking up early in the morning for older adults, and lengthened overall sleep.
A 2017 review found that magnesium can help with subjective symptoms of mild anxiety, generalized anxiety, and post-menstrual syndrome (PMS) related anxiety. However, the review noted that it used self-reporting which may have hindered the results and that randomised controlled trials would work better.
Individual experiences with magnesium supplementation vary. Some people have reported improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and enhanced mood, while others have noticed minimal changes.
After carrying out my research for this article, I started taking magnesium myself. I’ve always been a light sleeper and suffer from chronic fatigue. So, when I saw a form of supplemental magnesium that had the word energy plastered across the lid of Boots, I had to try it.
I’ve been taking my supplements every morning before breakfast for several days now and have found that I generally feel more awake and energised after taking them despite waking up still tired. However, I cannot prove that this is due to the magnesium, it could just be that my brain gradually wakes up throughout the morning.
Matthew, 23, started taking magnesium supplements in October to help with his anxiety.
He said, “I was feeling quite low, and my anxiety has come back so I started to take it as an alternative for antidepressants that I didn’t want to take anymore. I have been taking one daily. I did a blood test to check its level after a couple of months and they were normal. And this corresponded to an increased mood level as well. My anxiety wasn’t as bad as before.”
Matthew studied Biological Sciences at university so he “knew about magnesium as an essential factor in multiple biological processes.” But recently he’s “seen many people on social media promoting its benefits for anxiety and then further read about it before starting to take it.”
While Matthew’s not sure if it’s the magnesium alone that has helped treat his anxiety, he believes that along with journaling and meditation, it has definitely been beneficial.
Margaux, 25, has been taking magnesium glycinate on and off since she was 15 to help with her menstrual cramps. She found out about magnesium from Alisa Vitti’s book, In the FLO, and chose to take magnesium glycinate “because it’s meant to be the best for women’s hormones.”
“I always struggled with very painful period cramps, so this is why I take them. The positive effects are not instant but once I take them, I can definitely feel more pain than when I don’t take them.
“I can’t tell if it helps with my sleep or mood because I also take other supplements all the time so don’t know which do what. But I know that magnesium has great benefits for sleep and other women’s health issues.”
“I have almost no pain when I take the magnesium, although it takes a few weeks to have some results,” she continued.
Hannah, 24, and her boyfriend started taking magnesium supplements about 3 weeks ago for sleep after reading about magnesium online and being recommended them by someone at their gym. While she generally feels better since taking the supplement, Hannah’s not sure if it’s the magnesium itself or the mental pleasure of taking something supposedly good for her.
She said, “Me and [my boyfriend] have been taking a magnesium tablet every night before we go to sleep. I haven’t noticed much really, and it’s been about 2-3 weeks.
My boyfriend seemed to think it upset his tummy, but I’m not sure, he said he slept better and woke up feeling quite good and I’ve noticed he’s a bit happier / more positive, but not sure if it’s linked! I feel good taking it or any sort of vitamins even if they do nothing.”
Emily, 50, has also tried taking magnesium supplements to help improve her sleep. She’s been taking magnesium combined with zinc after a friend recommended magnesium supplements to her.
She said, “I take magnesium mixed with zinc half an hour before bed, but I haven’t noticed massive improvements in my sleep; it’s actually made it worse.”
“I was told that because I’m taking HRT, it would help with my sleep, but it hasn’t.”
Emily’s been taking the supplements for two weeks already and plans to give it another few days before giving it up if things don’t improve.
In conclusion, while there isn’t solid evidence yet to prove that magnesium is definitely beneficial for general mood, anxiety, and sleep, it does seem like it might be.
If you’re considering taking magnesium supplements, it’s important to not exceed the recommended daily dosage and consult with your doctor first, especially if you have a health condition or take other medications.