Magnesium and Anxiety

Aug 24, 2020 | Nutrition, Physical Wellbeing


Is there a link between Magnesium and Anxiety?

Well, magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and has been shown to support a number of health benefits. And research shows that magnesium may also be helpful as a natural treatment for anxiety, as it plays an important role in regulating neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout the brain and body. Studies show it affects the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which helps regulate the adrenal and pituitary glands, and its these glands that are responsible for your response to stress(1).


In this article Josephine Cobb, founder of Josephine Cobb Nutrition tells us more about this powerful mineral magnesium.


What is magnesium?

Magnesium is probably the mineral you’ve heard about the most. It’s a master mineral and is responsible for the correct metabolic function of over 350 enzymes in the body. However, emerging evidence tell us that we are definitely not getting enough of it.

In fact, research shows that many people are sub-clinically deficient in magnesium, and this could become a problem because when magnesium levels are low, this can contribute and exacerbate many neuropsychiatric problems, including anxiety.

Present research shows emerging evidence in humans that reduced magnesium levels are associated with different facets of anxiety behaviour.

Where can I get my magnesium from?

Some of the top foods that contain this marvellous mineral are:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Soybeans
  • Tempeh
  • Black eyed peas

If you are consuming a good diet with a range of vegetables, good sources of proteins and fats then you are well on your way. But the tricky thing is that we don’t really know exactly how much magnesium is in our foods.

Several studies of historical food composition tables show an apparent decline in food nutrient content over the past 70 years. This is due to loss of soil fertility by ongoing industrial agriculture, and this is important because we know magnesium is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables. And as the produce grows, it takes up minerals from the soil, however, if the soil is lacking or depleted in minerals the veggies won’t contain as much. if minerals are not first present in the soil they won’t be present in the produce either.

How can we get enough magnesium?

I always advocate food as main source of magnesium first because if you are prioritising magnesium-rich foods you will be prioritising a nutrient-rich diet, at this is at the heart of addressing anxious feelings.

A nutrient-dense diet will naturally go towards a way of eating that keeps blood sugar levels in balance and will be low in stimulating foods and beverages, these being some key factors in regulating anxious episodes.

After using food first, magnesium is one of the minerals which can be successfully supplemented. However, self supplementing is not something I recommend, as there are different types of magnesium, eg, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium aspartate, magnesium glycinate and magnesium gluconate. They all work differently in the body and are absorbed differently. This is where I recommend working with a practitioner who can design you a personalised supplement protocol.

How else can you get magnesium?

I get asked a lot about magnesium being taken topically, ie – sprays, bathed in or skin cream, some say that this is a better option to increase the magnesium in the body, however, there just isn’t the conclusive research to back this up.
Transdermal magnesium is great if we’re talking about a relaxing form of muscle ease. Magnesium, after all, is great for aching muscles. Bathing in an Epsom salt bath understandably, will relax the body and give the mind time to switch off, which is great for someone having anxious feelings.
But does it increase the serum magnesium levels in the body? The honest answer is that the evidence is just not there yet.  However incorporating magnesium foot soaks, baths and sprays on tight muscles is something that can be beneficial.



More about Josephine Cobb

Josephine Cobb Nutrition supports 40+ women to navigate perimenopause with personalised nutrition and lifestyle support

Josephine Cobb is a registered Nutritional Therapist;  her approach is client centred and science based. Which means that a nutrition programme will be tailor-made to your unique biochemistry and current overall health requirements.



Magnesium and Anxiety: Disclaimer:

This article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice and diagnosis and does not constitute medical advice. If you are concerned about any change in your mental or physical health you should contact your health professional straight away.

Magnesium and Anxiety: References:

  1. Magnesium and Anxiety Link Study



If you enjoyed this article why not read Berries for Brain Health 







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