Magnesium Glycinate for Anxiety & Stress Management

Bradley Keys · Jun 08 2023

Anxiety often seems like the default state of modern life. Work and family pressures, medical issues, and the internet providing a near-constant drip feed of things to get angry at can combine – this makes life overwhelming at times.

There are no easy fixes for anxiety, but supplementation with magnesium glycinate may help your body to better cope with the stressors of everyday life. Magnesium deficiency is associated with depressed mood, trouble sleeping, and high stress – adding extra to your diet may help.

Read on to learn more about how magnesium and anxiety work and why Nested Naturals magnesium glycinate for anxiety is a great choice in terms of choosing a magnesium to help manage anxiety & stress!

What Is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a metal initially produced in aging stars beginning to die off. It's one of the most common elements on earth, and it's everywhere around you – from the phone or computer you're reading this on to the Epsom salts in your bathroom. 

Plants need this metal in order to use photosynthesis to create food. Animals, too, need magnesium to regulate the electrical impulses and energy production in their bodies.

In humans, magnesium is typically consumed as salts like magnesium chloride or magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia). In the body, it helps control electrical impulses and interacts with ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), the most basic form of energy for your cells. Without this vital element, ATP would remain inactive and unable to be used.

Magnesium also reacts with polyphosphates in compounds like DNA or RNA. That helps the programming in your genes express itself. Without this one element, your body simply couldn't function.

Why Is Magnesium So Important?

There are very few bodily processes that magnesium doesn't play a role in! It's important for helping your muscles, including your heart and lungs, relax and contract as needed.

Magnesium can also affect things like blood sugar and how your body absorbs energy from food. It seems to make rats with type 2 diabetes more sensitive to insulin, which in turn can help them to manage the disease better.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Because magnesium is vital to multiple bodily processes, the symptoms of deficiency are wide-ranging and diffuse. One symptom you may be familiar with is your muscles cramping or spasming after a long workout. While multiple things can cause muscle cramping, deficiency of this key metal is one of the most common.

A deficiency can also show up as generalized fatigue, weakness, or paresthesia (the “pins and needles” sensation). It has also been associated with migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, and anxiety (more on that last one in a bit).

If you have a long-term deficiency, your body will start to use calcium and potassium ions, both of which have the same electrical charge, in lieu of magnesium. Your body may even strip calcium from your bones for this purpose, which can lead to osteoporosis. 

During pregnancy, deficiency can result in preeclampsia. This is a condition where high blood pressure can result in edema, gastric pain, and serious risks to the baby. 

Deficiency Is Difficult to Track

The best test we have to detect magnesium deficiency is to measure the concentration in the blood plasma. However, because magnesium does so many things inside cells, it's possible to have plenty of it in your plasma but still be deficient. 

In fact, there's no real biomarker to track deficiency, just a few generally used guidelines. Detecting a deficiency is subjective and may depend on the patient reporting symptoms or on the doctor's awareness of the condition. Deficiency in humans was only identified in 1934, and there are a lot of things we still don't know about it.

If you're experiencing symptoms that could be a sign of magnesium deficiency, it's worth taking a look at your diet and talking to your doctor.

Magnesium and Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety are likely familiar to all of us – feelings of unease you can't shake, dread you can't soothe, and thoughts that seem to get stuck in your brain. Then there are the physical symptoms – dry mouth, headaches, and an upset stomach.

For some of us, anxiety is a serious problem that escalates to a condition like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or panic disorder. Over 40 million Americans (close to a fifth of the population) have some kind of anxiety disorder.

Of course, the causes of anxiety are many and varied, from daily life situations to a family history of anxiety. But magnesium seems to have a major role to play here and could be a way to help.

Some studies have suggested that magnesium seems to have mood-lifting effects in humans. This study also found that supplementation during the study was associated with reduced levels of subjective stress. Participants receiving magnesium felt better able to deal with physical activity.

And it's been shown to improve subjective anxiety ratings, as well. This study also showed that higher intake was associated with less PMS-related anxiety, too.

Anxiety isn't just limited to those with anxiety disorders – we all experience occasional periods of high stress and anxiousness. Magnesium seems to help with that, at least in some situations.

One study looked at patients who had recently received open-heart surgery – certainly a stressful life event. Anxiety and depression levels were lower in patients who received magnesium. Sleep quality was somewhat better, as well.

Related Conditions

Anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with other conditions like depression, migraines, and poor sleep. Here too, magnesium could have positive and helpful effects.

One study found that they could induce depressive behavior in rats simply by depriving them of magnesium. In fact, the depressive symptoms responded to antidepressants, suggesting that magnesium and depression have a very close connection.

Low blood plasma levels are associated with migraines, chronic inflammation, and trouble sleeping. We need more and better studies to help us determine the exact effects of magnesium, but the evidence suggests that it has a major role to play in helping your brain to stay healthy and happy.

Sleep can have a huge effect on your anxiety levels. And multiple studies have proposed that magnesium supplementation correlates with longer and better quality sleep.

Mechanism of Action

How exactly does this metal work in the body to potentially lower anxiety? Doctors aren't completely sure yet, but they have a few theories about magnesium and anxiety.

It does seem to have an effect on the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps regulate your nervous system, body temperature, circadian rhythms, and hunger. Deficiency is associated with an excess amount of ACTH, which controls the production of cortisol, the main stress hormone.

Too much ACTH means too much cortisol, which can mean stress on your body as well as increased anxiety.

Magnesium may also help to regulate GABA, the main inhibitory transmitter in your brain. You can think of one of GABA's functions as preventing your brain from essentially overheating – it helps your brain regulate the signals it sends.

Too much activity in your neurons is called excitotoxicity. This can lead to oxidative stress and, eventually, cell death in your brain. It may have a protective effect and help keep your neurons functioning normally.

The reduction in ACTH levels and regulation of GABA may also be responsible for magnesium's other effects, like better sleep and improved mood. GABA, in particular, is hugely important in preparing your body and mind for sleep.

Directions for the Future

There's still a lot we don't know about magnesium and anxiety. Almost every study out there ends with a plea for more research. It's only within the past few years that researchers have seriously started looking at the connection between diet and mental health.

Hopefully, we'll learn more about how exactly magnesium works in the brain and body and what the best magnesium for anxiety is. What we do know now is that this metal is incredibly important in many bodily systems, and that deficiency causes real problems. 

We also know that supplementation is, for most people, a very safe way to boost your levels. And some of those who do take a supplement have seen real results in their mood and anxiety levels.

Natural Sources in Your Diet

There are plenty of delicious foods that are natural sources of magnesium. They include:

  • Leafy greens, including spinach and Swiss chard
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, and other seeds
  • Whole grains, including brown rice and quinoa
  • Bananas
  • Nuts, including cashews, almonds, peanuts, and Brazil nuts
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fish
  • Soybean products, including edamame and tofu
  • Beans of all kinds, including black beans, garbanzos, and pinto beans

The USDA recommends 310 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men. 420 mg is a little over 1 full cup of almonds or 3.5 cups of black beans. Even if you eat a healthy diet, that’s still a lot to get every day!

The nutrient levels in vegetables and grains can be affected by the soil they're grown in, as well. If plants don't have access to much magnesium in the soil, crops from those plants won't contain much magnesium, either. Deficiency in plants often shows up as yellow or pale leaves.

For all those reasons, supplementation (like magnesium glycinate for stress) makes sense for a lot of people. Getting more in your diet is good, but many people could do with the boost a supplement offers.

Reasons for Magnesium Deficiency

Even with a good diet, though, a deficiency can happen. Maybe it's temporary while you're traveling and don't have easy access to veggies and whole grains. A bout of heavy drinking, a course of antibiotics, or diarrhea can also deplete your body's reserves.

If you're on diuretics or certain common medications for acid reflux (like omeprazole), you may also have issues with low levels. In fact, close to half the US population doesn't consume the recommended amount of the stuff, and as much as 15% of the population could have clinically significant low magnesium.

Whatever the reason, taking a magnesium supplement can be a smart decision for many people.  Anyone on medication or who is pregnant or breastfeeding should always discuss the options with a doctor before supplementing.

What's the Best Magnesium for Anxiety?

The best magnesium for anxiety is a supplement that you'll take every day as directed. Beyond that, you want to look for a supplement where the element itself makes up a high percentage of the supplement's weight. 

Certain compounds are just better absorbed by your body than others. And the pH of your gut may play a role, as well.

There are many different supplements out there featuring magnesium citrate, oxide, or chloride. Magnesium glycinate is one compound that's formed with the elemental metal and glycine, a key amino acid in your body.

This compound is easily absorbed by your body through your small intestine. Glycine is heavier than other chlorine or oxygen, so there's a bit less magnesium per pill. But that's made up for in terms of what your body can actually use.

Taking magnesium glycinate for anxiety is a simple and smart thing you can do to help your body and mind cope with daily life.

You Need a Trustworthy Magnesium Glycinate Supplement

Any magnesium glycinate for anxiety also needs to be from a manufacturer that you can trust. There are no FDA regulations on the contents of a supplement or on its efficacy. 

A good supplement company will use third-party testing to verify that the supplement contains the amount of magnesium specified on the label. The testing should also verify that the pills or tablets are free of any dangerous microbes or heavy metals.

Depending on your other allergies or dietary concerns, you may also want to make sure that your supplement is free of gluten, common allergens, animal products, or GMOs.

Nested Naturals supplements undergo rigorous third-party testing and are free of everything you don't want – and rich in those that you do.

Risks of Magnesium Glycinate

Like any supplement, magnesium glycinate does have a few risks. Most of these are associated with consuming too much magnesium.

Your kidneys are pretty efficient at using urine to remove any excess magnesium in your body. But if you have too much of the substance in your body long-term or your kidneys don't work well, you're at risk for low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and muscle weakness.

Talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your wellness regimen. Discontinue use immediately and seek medical advice if you suspect you're suffering from excess magnesium.

Side Effects

Magnesium can help your intestines to retain water. This can make bowel movements easier, and it's why magnesium citrate, in particular, is often used as a first-line laxative.

But what can be a relief when you're constipated can be a literal pain when you're not. Some supplements can cause loose stools and diarrhea – a very unpleasant side effect.

Adjusting the pH of the supplement with some magnesium oxide helps to prevent this unpleasant side effect. This is called buffering and is what Nested Naturals does. Our reviews speak for themselves – our magnesium glycinate for anxiety causes no laxative effect.

Nested Naturals Magnesium Glycinate

With so much evidence about the magnesium and anxiety connection, it makes sense for most people to supplement their diets. But which is the best magnesium for anxiety?

Nested Naturals magnesium glycinate for anxiety offers high-quality, bioavailable magnesium with no laxative effect. Our supplements are third-party verified and tested for potency as well as safety.

With no GMOs, gluten, peanuts, animal products, and added sugar, our supplements have everything you need and nothing you don't. See why our customers think we're the best magnesium for anxiety, and check out our products for yourself!