Diet & Nutrition 6 MIN READ 133 VIEWS June 28, 2022

Magnesium for Anxiety: A Detailed Guide

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Magnesium for Anxiety

Magnesium plays an important role in bodily functions and also benefits the overall health of the body. Studies have shown that consuming magnesium for anxiety through food or supplements works wonders. Magnesium benefits brain function by regulating neurotransmitters that send messages to the brain and body. 

Pituitary glands and adrenal glands are responsible for stress response. The Hypothalamus, a part of the brain, is the one that regulates the functioning of these glands. Magnesium works on this part of the brain to manage stress and anxiety. One of the magnesium health benefits includes maintaining neurological health.

Magnesium and Anxiety

Magnesium for anxiety works in innumerable ways. It relaxes your brain and gets you to a calm state of mind while maintaining brain health. The various mechanisms devised by magnesium to alleviate stress are given below:

1. Stimulates GABA Receptors

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are repressive neurotransmitters that slow down excessive brain activity. When the GABA level is low, the brain remains active throughout and it will be very difficult to relax. If you feel overburdened, are not able to sleep, and are always worrying, then it is an indication of low levels of GABA. Depletion in GABA level can lead to various stress and anxiety-related issues like sleeplessness, panic attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. Magnesium helps in overcoming this issue by stimulating GABA receptors.

2. Controls Stress Hormones

You will experience mood swings, fogging of the brain, memory loss, anxiety, loss of concentration, etc. when there is a spike in cortisol, the stress hormones. Magnesium controls the release of stress hormones and calms the brain. 

3. Averts Brain Inflammation

Any part of the body, including the brain, can be affected by chronic inflammation. Brain inflammation leads to various neurological issues, including anxiety. Magnesium, with its anti-inflammatory properties, helps in preventing brain inflammation and managing anxiety.

Cytokines are inflammatory immune system messengers that can affect neuronal circuits in the brain and may cause changes in the tissues of the brain, and alter the functioning of the brain. Deficiency in magnesium triggers cytokines to cause inflammation that leads to several neurological disorders.

4. Helps in Removing Heavy Metals from the Body

Accumulation of neurotoxic metals like mercury, lead, and aluminium in the brain leads to anxiety and several other neurological disorders. These metals are capable of crossing all the barriers and accumulating in the brain. Magnesium can remove these heavy metals from the body and help relieve stress and anxiety.

5. Improves Brain Plasticity

Brain plasticity is nothing but the ability of the brain to cure itself, replenish brain cells, and revive brain connections all over. Magnesium is one vital nutrient that boosts brain plasticity for better brain health. Studies have proved that adequate intake of magnesium benefits cognitive performance. The reason is enhanced brain plasticity that enables the brain to reconnect itself to be relieved of anxiety.

6. An Effective Antidepressant

Anxiety and depression are interrelated. Magnesium can help both anxiety and depression. It helps in dealing with depression by boosting the levels of mood enhancers like serotonin and dopamine. Magnesium also helps in reducing brain inflammation which is one of the main causes of depression.

7. Controls Blood Sugar Levels

Hypoglycemia, a condition when sugar levels are lower than normal due to imbalance, can lead to anxiety. The brain needs a continuous supply of glucose which is the major fuel source for effective functioning. When the glucose supply to the brain is reduced, there will be a drop in blood sugar levels, the adrenal glands release cortisol, the stress hormone. The required sugar to bring the levels back to normal will be derived from the sugar stored. 

Whenever the sugar level drops, you will feel anxious. This kind of anxiety is termed as a hypoglycemic attack which has similar symptoms to a regular anxiety attack i.e., nervousness, sweating, dizziness, etc. Including food sources rich in magnesium will help in managing sugar levels and averting such attacks.

8. Boosts Overall Health

Dealing with a magnesium deficiency will have a great effect on overall well-being. It will help in improving cognitive health. You will feel calm, happy, and less anxious. You will also feel adaptable to stress, can sleep better, and experience better focus as well as concentration. In general, you will feel a boost in mental health.

Causes and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium health benefits are immense. This miracle mineral helps in maintaining high energy levels, enhances mood, alleviates anxiety and stress, relaxes muscles, and induces good sleep. The body cannot produce magnesium naturally and so it has to be derived from magnesium foods alone. However, the body can retain good levels of magnesium and so developing magnesium deficiency is quite uncommon. But certain habits that lead to magnesium deficiency are given below:

  1. Loss of magnesium through urine or sweat due to excessive consumption of alcohol.
  2. Consuming foods that are low in magnesium.
  3. Gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease can cause magnesium deficiency.
  4. Having type 2 diabetes.
  5. Old age
  6. Medications like antibiotics, diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, etc.

Prolonged magnesium deficiency can impact brain function, bone density, digestive system, and nerve and muscle functions. Magnesium deficiency at a young age can inhibit bone growth. It is therefore very important to ensure the availability of adequate levels of magnesium during childhood i.e, the growth stage by including magnesium foods in the diet. The risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures will be higher in older persons with magnesium deficiency as the bone density will be affected. 

Including magnesium foods in the diet can help at a young age but magnesium supplements will be a better option for the elderlies for optimum absorption. During the early stages, symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea. The symptoms will vary when the deficiency is not addressed in the early stages and continues for a longer period. Persons with prolonged deficiency will experience: 

  1. Hypocalcemia – depletion in calcium levels
  2. Muscle contractions and cramps
  3. Hypokalemia – a dip in potassium levels
  4. Seizures
  5. Irregular heartbeat
  6. Coronary convulsions

Overcoming Magnesium Deficiency

Managing magnesium deficiency at an early stage is crucial to avoiding serious disorders. You can do so by including sources of magnesium in your diet. Here are a few tips that can help you deal with magnesium deficiency:

  1. Consume natural and unprocessed foods. Include whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and legumes in your diet. These are rich sources of magnesium.
  2. Magnesium supplement benefits are innumerable. If you are not able to derive adequate levels of magnesium from your diet, then include magnesium supplement either in the powder or tablet form in your regular diet. You will have to assess the issue caused by magnesium deficiency and choose a magnesium supplement that can resolve that particular issue. 
  3. A daily multivitamin supplement with nutrients that are easily absorbed into the system can be of great help to boost magnesium levels.
  4. Alcohol restricts the absorption of Vitamin D and other essential nutrients. This impacts the absorption of magnesium as well. The magnesium level in alcohol and fizzy drinks is low and so consumption will not help in dealing with a deficiency. Instead, consume coconut water that is rich in magnesium and other electrolytes and keeps your body hydrated for a long time.
  5. Sea vegetables are rich in minerals and magnesium. Include these vegetables in your diet to procure adequate magnesium.
  6. Refined sugar boosts the discharge of magnesium from your body and depletes the magnesium level required for overall health. Avoid the consumption of refined sugar to manage magnesium levels.
  7. Gut health is very important for maximum absorption of nutrients. Good bacteria in the gut facilitates efficient absorption of magnesium. Nourishing gut health can go a long way in dealing with magnesium deficiency.
  8. The best way of absorbing minerals is through the skin. Make Epsom salt baths or foot baths a routine to procure sufficient magnesium.
  9. Avoid consumption of tea and raw spinach as they can interfere with magnesium absorption. Instead, blanch spinach before consumption and have herbal tea.

Side-Effects of Magnesium

Higher doses of magnesium through food sources do not pose an issue as they get flushed out through the kidney. However, excess magnesium through magnesium supplements or anxiety supplements can cause side effects like nausea, fatigue, and muscle weakness. 

Conclusion

Magnesium is a miracle mineral that balances several issues, including anxiety and stress. Magnesium for anxiety works wonders as it enhances the mood by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones. It is best to derive magnesium from food sources as far as possible. Magnesium supplements should be an alternative to fill in the nutritional gap. Also, don’t forget to follow the tips given to overcome magnesium deficiency and lead a happy and stress-free life.

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