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Magnesium and Anxiety: The Role of This Essential Mineral in Alleviating Stress

Anxiety has become a prevalent issue in today's fast-paced society, with millions of people suffering from various anxiety disorders. One potential solution to this alarming problem lies in an essential dietary mineral: magnesium. Recent studies suggest that magnesium can play a significant role in alleviating anxiety and stress, promoting relaxation, and improving overall mental health. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various ways magnesium contributes to reducing anxiety, the different forms of magnesium available, and how to effectively incorporate it into your daily routine.


The Importance of Magnesium for Mental Health

Magnesium is an essential mineral required for over 600 metabolic functions in the body. Despite its importance, many people do not receive adequate amounts of magnesium from their diet. Research has revealed a strong correlation between magnesium deficiency and the development of anxiety and stress-related disorders.

Magnesium's Role in Neurological Health

Magnesium plays a crucial role in maintaining the proper functioning of the nervous system. It helps to regulate the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and is involved in various processes that contribute to relaxation and overall mental well-being. In addition, magnesium has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the brain, a potential contributor to anxiety and depression.

The Connection between Magnesium Deficiency and Anxiety

Studies have shown that individuals with low magnesium levels are more likely to suffer from anxiety and other mental health conditions. In fact, researchers have been able to induce anxiety in lab animals by depriving them of magnesium. This strong connection between magnesium and anxiety has led experts to believe that boosting magnesium levels can be an effective method of treating anxiety and other stress-related disorders.

How Magnesium Alleviates Anxiety: The Mechanisms

Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies. One of its critical functions is regulating neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers that transmit signals throughout our nervous system. Research has shown that magnesium deficiency can lead to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, resulting in increased anxiety levels.

Various scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of magnesium in reducing anxiety symptoms. For example, a 2017 review published in the journal "Nutrients" analyzed 18 different studies and found that magnesium supplementation had a positive impact on anxiety levels in people with mild to moderate anxiety disorders. The anti-anxiety effect of magnesium can be attributed to its role in regulating the body's stress response system, promoting relaxation, and supporting overall brain function.

Magnesium works through several mechanisms to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Some of the key ways in which magnesium contributes to alleviating anxiety include:

1. Increasing Relaxing GABA Levels

Magnesium can help to reduce anxiety by binding to and stimulating GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity, making it easier for individuals to relax and cope with stress. Low GABA levels have been linked to anxiety, insomnia, and various stress-related disorders.

2. Reducing Stress Hormones

Excess levels of stress hormones like cortisol can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Magnesium can help to restrict the release of these stress hormones and prevent them from entering the brain, thereby reducing anxiety symptoms.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

As previously mentioned, magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce inflammation in the brain. Chronic inflammation has been linked to various mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.

4. Removing Heavy Metals

Exposure to neurotoxic metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum has been associated with anxiety and other neurological disorders. Some evidence suggests that magnesium can help to bind with and remove these heavy metals from the body, potentially reducing anxiety symptoms.

5. Enhancing Brain Plasticity

Magnesium has been found to increase brain plasticity, or the brain's ability to heal itself, create new brain cells, and form new neural connections. This increased level of plasticity may help the brain to rewire itself and become less anxious.

6. Stabilizing Blood Sugar Levels

Magnesium plays a crucial role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, which can have a significant impact on anxiety. When blood sugar levels fluctuate, it can trigger the release of stress hormones, leading to increased anxiety. By helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels, magnesium can reduce anxiety symptoms.



Magnesium's Role in Combating Stress and Anxiety

Magnesium's anti-anxiety effects can be attributed to several mechanisms, which include:

  1. Regulation of stress response: Magnesium helps regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the body's central stress response system. By controlling the release of stress hormones like cortisol, magnesium can help prevent excessive activation of the HPA axis and mitigate the negative impact of stress on the body and mind.

  2. Promotion of relaxation: Magnesium plays a role in regulating the nervous system's excitability by acting as a natural calcium channel blocker. This action helps prevent overstimulation of nerve cells and promotes relaxation, thus reducing anxiety.

  3. Modulation of neurotransmitters: Magnesium is crucial for the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are essential for mood regulation and relaxation. Adequate magnesium levels support the balance of these neurotransmitters, resulting in reduced anxiety symptoms.

  4. NMDA receptor antagonism: Magnesium also acts as an antagonist at NMDA receptors, which are involved in learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity. Overactivation of these receptors can lead to excitotoxicity and increased stress levels, while magnesium's action as an antagonist can help protect against stress-induced damage and alleviate anxiety.


Depression is a close cousin to anxiety and in many cases of anxiety, depression, even mild, is present. Magnesium is effective against both anxiety and depression. Lowering brain inflammation and balancing blood sugars help with both depression and anxiety, however one of the keys is to be able to control serotonin levels in the brain to trigger happy feelings. Magnesium has proven to be highly effective at this and has been shown to increase the levels of serotonin produced and thus alleviate anxiety.

Conclusion: The Potential Benefits of Magnesium for Anxiety

The role of magnesium in alleviating anxiety is supported by a growing body of research. By increasing relaxing GABA levels, reducing stress hormones, and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties, magnesium holds the potential to significantly improve mental health and well-being. By understanding the various types of magnesium supplements available and incorporating them into a comprehensive treatment plan, individuals suffering from anxiety may experience relief from their symptoms and an overall improvement in their mental health.



  1. Neurotransmitter regulation: Magnesium is essential for the proper functioning of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play a significant role in mood regulation and anxiety management.

  2. NMDA receptor modulation: Magnesium acts as a natural NMDA receptor antagonist, helping to reduce the overstimulation of nerve cells. Overactivation of NMDA receptors has been linked to increased anxiety and stress.

  3. Stress response: Magnesium helps regulate the body's stress response system by influencing the release and function of cortisol, a hormone that plays a key role in the body's response to stress.

  4. HPA axis function: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is critical for stress response and adaptation. Magnesium has been shown to help maintain proper HPA axis function, which can influence anxiety levels.

  5. GABA production: Magnesium contributes to the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

  6. Neuroplasticity: Magnesium is involved in the process of neuroplasticity, which is crucial for maintaining healthy brain function and adapting to stress. A healthy brain can better manage anxiety and stress.

  7. Blood-brain barrier permeability: Magnesium helps maintain the blood-brain barrier's integrity, protecting the brain from potential stressors that could contribute to anxiety.

  8. Sleep quality: Adequate magnesium levels can support sleep quality, as magnesium is involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Poor sleep quality has been linked to increased anxiety.

  9. Inflammation: Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in managing anxiety. Chronic inflammation has been associated with increased anxiety and stress.

  10. Blood pressure regulation: Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, which is important for overall cardiovascular health. High blood pressure can contribute to increased anxiety and stress levels.

Magnesium Information

For more everything you need to know about magnesium and magnesium supplements, check out our comprehensive information page here.

Magnesium Information


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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM

Dr. Ron Goedeke, an expert in the domain of functional medicine, dedicates his practice to uncovering the root causes of health issues by focusing on nutrition and supplement-based healing and health optimisation strategies. An esteemed founding member of the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine, Dr. Goedeke's professional journey has always been aligned with cutting-edge health concepts.

Having been actively involved with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 1999, he brings over two decades of knowledge and experience in the field of anti-aging medicine, making him an eminent figure in this evolving realm of healthcare. Throughout his career, Dr. Goedeke has been steadfast in his commitment to leverage appropriate nutritional guidance and supplementation to encourage optimal health.

This has allowed him to ascend as one of the most trusted authorities in the arena of nutritional medicine in New Zealand. His expertise in the intricate relationship between diet, nutritional supplements, and overall health forms the backbone of his treatment approach, allowing patients to benefit from a balanced and sustainable pathway to improved wellbeing.

  1. Sartori SB, Whittle N, Hetzenauer A, Singewald N. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jan;62(1):304-12. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027. Epub 2011 Aug 12. PMID: 21854829.

  2. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 26;9(5):429. doi: 10.3390/nu9050429. PMID: 28445426; PMCID: PMC5452159.

  3. Tarleton EK, Littenberg B, MacLean CD, Kennedy AG, Daley C. Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 27;12(6):e0180067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180067. PMID: 28654669; PMCID: PMC5487054.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.

Last updated on the 18th of April 2023

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