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Today’s post is all about my magnesium for anxiety love affair.
Sounds funny, yes, but if you’ve followed me on Instagram for any length of time, you’ll know how much I could go on and on about this stuff.
I’m the type of girl that will geek out at a natural health store when I find the magnesium section.
But it wasn’t always like that.
I mean, I always knew the very basics about magnesium.
I knew that it is a mineral (thanks gr 9 Science class).
I knew our bodies need it.
And, well, that’s about it.
It wasn’t until I was studying nutrition that I learned a whole lot more about this special mineral and how the majority of people are not getting their recommended intake.
Up to 75% of people, in fact!
And the most at-risk groups of being deficient in this mineral include:
- Those with alcohol dependencies
- Those with type 2 diabetes
- Those with gastrointestinal diseases (Crohn’s disease, gluten-sensitive)
- Older adults
Magnesium is excellent for heart health and can actually prevent heart attacks, but it’s the calming, and mood-boosting properties that really had me interested to learn more.
One of the biggest consequences of an even mild deficiency in magnesium is mental health disorders
- Frequent anxiety or panic attacks
- Dizziness or brain fog
- Being easily startled
- A feeling of “tired but wired”
- Unable to handle stress
- Experiencing insomnia
- Unable to focus or concentrate
I took SSRIs for the better part of a year and while I wasn’t in a constant state of panic, I certainly wasn’t jumping for joy either.
In fact, my emotions were kinda just numb, dumbed down so I wasn’t the extremely emotional being I usually am, essentially I just wasn’t really myself anymore.
You can hear all about my experience during that time of my life here:
This is a tricky topic, because I know that if you are seriously struggling and suffering from suicidal thoughts then prescription medications may be the best immediate option for you.
Trust when I say, in no way am I judging anyone for this decision.
I also don’t believe you need to be on them forever.
Now you’re probably wondering how a mineral can be compared to prescription medication, so let’s talk a little more about my superstar supplement.
Here are a few benefits of magnesium for anxiety:
- GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain, necessary for calming the mind and balancing your mood. When GABA levels get too low, for whatever reason, you may start to experience anxiety symptoms and depression. Magnesium helps to increase the levels of GABA in your brain so not only will your anxiety start to get better, you’ll feel a whole lot happier too.
- High levels of inflammation can cause anxiety and depression and this inflammation may be due to a variety of different factors, from chronic stress to poor eating habits. Magnesium helps to reduce internal inflammation and man, what a difference that makes!
- Magnesium even decreases cortisol levels! What the heck is cortisol, you ask? It’s your body’s stress hormone. In small amounts it makes sense and is the body’s defense mechanism, but when it gets out of control, why not calm it down with some magnesium? Not only does magnesium lower cortisol in the body, but it can also actually prevent it from entering the brain and contributing to anxiety! That’s badass.
- Another thing people struggle with when dealing with an anxiety disorder is sleep or fatigue issues which often stem from muscle weakness (due to magnesium deficiency). You may find it hard to fall asleep, wake up with twitching or tightness in your calves, or even break out in a panic attack upon waking suddenly. Magnesium helps to strengthen the muscles, which could reduce sleep-related symptoms.
To put it simply, present me with a problem and I am probably going to tell you to take magnesium right away!
I wouldn’t go so far as to say magnesium cured my anxiety, but it definitely plays a major role in keeping my body nutritionally balanced; which in turn curbs anxiety.
Magnesium reduces tension caused by anxiety and depression
As I briefly touched on above, lack of magnesium may lead to tense muscles.
Magnesium helps to relax these tight muscles, which is something most anxiety sufferers are familiar with.
In fact, it helps to relax them without you needing to do a damn thing!
When your muscles start to relax, you naturally start to feel a lot more chilled out.
For example, you may be reading this and holding tension in your body right now.
Go ahead, pay attention.
Are you holding tension in your jaw?
Go ahead and release it.
Feel that instant relief?
Now pay attention to any other areas of your body you’re holding onto tension and let that shit go.
As I am writing this, I realized my shoulders are hunched up around my ears.
I couldn’t tell you, but I am now aware of it and feeling better already with them lower and in their rightful place.
A few years ago when I began experience tension and tightness associated with anxiety, the first thing I did was rush off to the doctor to immediately get a prescription because I refused to feel that way!
Little did I know that “Nature’s Valium” was just waiting for me to discover it and when I did, what a difference it made…
Magnesium doesn’t just help to relax stubborn, unhappy muscles.
It helps to stop those twitches that may have had you booking in with a neurosurgeon in the past.
Once your muscles are no longer so tight, twitches gradually fade away so you don’t have to worry about them so much anymore.
What is the best form of magnesium for anxiety?
Before you run off to your local drugstore to stock up on magnesium, listen closely…
Not all magnesium variations are made the same, and it matters a lot which one you choose for anxiety.
The worst forms of magnesium you can purchase for anxiety are:
- Magnesium oxide of which only 4% is absorbed by your body, so you’re going to be wasting your money
- Magnesium sulfate which is found in Epsom salt, may harm you internally and cause you to get really sick; so save this one for warm baths and external applications
Now let’s talk about the more commonly used forms for anxiety…
Magnesium glycinate vs magnesium citrate
Let’s be clear.
Magnesium citrate is best for occasional bouts of constipation, as it has a mild laxative effect.
It goes right through you, trust me.
It’s the form you reach for when you need some relief (if you know what I mean) but for correcting mood imbalances, magnesium glycinate (magnesium bis-glycinate is used interchangeably) is the one you want.
Magnesium glycinate is beautifully absorbed by the body, where it can actually help you out with all your issues, instead of just send you running straight to the washroom.
Don’t get me wrong, high doses will get things moving as they should, but it’s a whole different story than its citrate cousin.
I recommend heading to your local health store to stock up on this guy or why not check out some brands I have used and loved before.
Not only have I used these magnesium supplements, but I’ve also worked very closely with the companies that make them (I write their blog posts), and I stand behind them 100%. Developed by licensed, Canadian naturopathic doctors, these magnesium supplements are professional-grade, yet family-friendly, naturopathic products.
How to take magnesium
While magnesium supplements (like the ones above) are the most common, these aren’t your only options.
Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy swallowing pills?
I get it, it’s not my favourite thing either.
What is the recommended amount of magnesium to take?
Below you’ll find a handy chart that breaks down exactly the RDA of magnesium for every age group.
- Birth to 6 months: 30 mg
- 7–12 months: 75 mg
- 1–3 years: 80 mg
- 4–8 years: 130 mg
- 9–13 years: 240 mg
- 14–18 years: 410 mg (male), 360 mg (female), 400 mg (pregnancy)
- 19–30 years: 400 mg (male), 310 mg (female), 350 mg (pregnancy)
- 31–50 years: 420 mg (male), 320 mg (female), 360 mg (pregnancy)
- 51+ years: 420 mg (male), 320 mg (female)
What is the best time of day to take magnesium for anxiety?
I usually take around 600mg to 800mg spread out throughout the day.
Which for a 30-year-old female, you’ll notice I’m taking double if not more my RDA.
Magnesium overdose is not very likely, with the Office of Dietary Supplements noting that “very large doses of magnesium-containing laxatives and antacids (typically providing more than 5,000 mg/day magnesium) have been associated with magnesium toxicity.”
Personally, I find 600 to 800mg is the ideal daily amount for me, but I would encourage you to first talk to your physician if you are considering going over the RDA for any reason.
I’ll take 200mg in the morning, 200mg in the afternoon (if I remember and if I feel a little stressed) and then 400mg before bed helps me to sleep like a baby.
If there’s one thing I recommend starting today for your own anxiety struggles, it’s taking magnesium.
You’ll feel more chilled out, your mood will start to lift.
You won’t have any stomach woes and you’ll sleep better, what could be better?
The worst that can happen from too much magnesium is looser stools but I think anyone would take that over a dark cloud of depression any day, I know I do! Sorry if TMI, but you deserve to know.
If you’d like to learn even more about how great magnesium is for your overall mood and health, then check out this book, “The Magnesium Miracle.”
We’ve come to the end, kudos for you if you made it all the way down here.
Now it’s your turn, leave a comment if you have any questions or had any revelations while reading this article.
I’m always excited to read comments from you!