Excerpted from an article by Deane Alban -
Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is so good for anxiety and stress that it’s been called “nature’s Valium” and “the original chill pill.”
Magnesium is necessary in over 600 metabolic functions, yet it is the second most common nutritional deficiency in developed countries. (1, 2)
Over the past 50 years, magnesium intake has plummeted while rates of anxiety have skyrocketed. (3)
This may not be a coincidence.
The correlation between magnesium and anxiety is so strong that researchers can intentionally induce anxiety in lab animals by depriving them of magnesium. (4)
The Many Ways Magnesium Alleviates Anxiety
Magnesium is a near miracle for stress and anxiety.
This mineral works by a surprising number of mechanisms to induce a state of relaxation, quell anxiety, and keep your brain healthy.
1. Magnesium Increases Relaxing GABA
One way magnesium counters stress is by binding to and stimulating GABA receptors in the brain. (5)
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, one that puts the brakes on brain activity.
When GABA is low, your brain gets stuck in the “on” position and it becomes impossible to relax.
If you are easily overwhelmed, disorganized, always find something new to worry about, or lay awake with racing thoughts, you likely have low GABA levels.
Low GABA is associated with numerous stress-related disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and irritable bowel syndrome. (6, 7)
Magnesium Reduces Stress Hormones
Magnesium restricts the release of stress hormones and acts as a filter to prevent them entering the brain. (8, 9)
Excess cortisol contributes to anxiety, depression, memory loss, brain fog, and mental disorders of all kinds. (10, 11)
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the perennial bestseller The Magnesium Miracle, has found magnesium deficiency to be a major contributor to anxiety and panic attacks.
She explains that when you are under stress, your body creates stress hormones causing a cascade of physical effects, all of which consume magnesium.
After studying the effects of magnesium for decades, she has found the link between anxiety and magnesium to be so strong that she emphatically states that to put an end to anxiety, you must boost your magnesium level.
One of the most common signs of magnesium deficiency is muscle tightness and cramping.
Tight muscles don’t just make you feel tense, they actually trigger the “flight or fight” response which releases the stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. (12)
Taking magnesium can help your muscles relax and end this vicious cycle.
Magnesium Lifts Depression
If you experience anxiety, you may also experience depression since these two disorders often go hand in hand.
Magnesium can help with both. (13)
One study found that magnesium was as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. (31)
Supplemental magnesium provided significant relief from general depression and major depressive disorder fast, often within a week. (32)
Magnesium helps depression by raising levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. (33, 34)
If you are looking for a natural way to alleviate anxiety and stress, magnesium may be the answer.
Magnesium can help anxiety by normalizing neurotransmitters and stress hormones, reducing brain inflammation, increasing neuroplasticity, balancing blood sugar levels, and removing heavy metals.
Eating magnesium-rich foods and drinking mineral water are important, but almost everyone can benefit from supplementation.
There are many forms of magnesium supplements, but not all of them will do you much good.
Choose a bioavailable form that matches your specific set of symptoms.