Does Magnesium for Anxiety Really Work?

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Research suggests that magnesium for anxiety may work by calming the nervous system, improving mood, and promoting relaxation.1,2,3 With a diverse range of magnesium types and supplements available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming.

This article discusses magnesium’s potential as a tool for anxiety relief, the different types of magnesium, and how to choose the right magnesium supplement to support your mental health and well-being.

Which Type of Magnesium Is Best for Anxiety?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 body processes, including muscle and nerve function, blood sugar control, immune system function, and mood regulation.4,5

Magnesium is found naturally in many foods (e.g., leafy greens, nuts, whole grains), but nearly half of adults in the United States do not consume enough magnesium through diet alone.4 The link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety is well established, which suggests that magnesium supplementation may benefit people with anxiety.6,3

Here’s what to know about the different types of magnesium that may relieve anxiety symptoms.

Magnesium Glycinate 

Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium that the body quickly absorbs.7 This magnesium supplement combines magnesium and glycine—an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) and is known for its calming effects on the nervous system.8

Supplementing with magnesium glycinate may promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, two critical factors in managing anxiety.9 It’s also gentler on the digestive system than other forms of magnesium, making it a good option for those with sensitive stomachs.10

Magnesium, Anxiety, and Sleep

Anxiety can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep throughout the night, and too little sleep can worsen anxiety symptoms. This can create a vicious cycle that is hard to escape when living with anxiety. Magnesium may promote better sleep by calming your nervous system, relaxing tense muscles, and promoting the production of melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles).1

Magnesium Taurate 

Magnesium taurate combines magnesium and taurine, an amino acid with anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective properties. Taurine promotes the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a neurotransmitter that has calming effects on the brain and may help relieve anxiety and improve mood.11

Studies exploring the effectiveness of magnesium taurate on anxiety using animal models suggest that magnesium taurate supplementation may calm the nervous system and significantly reduce fear and stress.12 This calming effect may offer benefits for people with anxiety. However, more research is necessary to study this effect in humans.13

Magnesium L-Threonate 

Magnesium L-threonate crosses the blood-brain barrier, boosting magnesium levels in the brain, where it interacts with receptors involved in regulating mood, cognitive function, and stress response.14 Preliminary studies using animal models saw significant reductions in anxiety levels and improvements in cognitive function and emotional regulation after supplementing with magnesium L-threonate.15

A 2022 study exploring the effects of magnesium L-threonate on older adults with stress and anxiety found that study participants taking between 1.5–2 grams of magnesium L-threonate daily reported significant reductions in their anxiety symptoms after 12 weeks of supplementation.16

Magnesium Chloride

The body easily absorbs magnesium chloride, and some research suggests it may promote relaxation, improve sleep, and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.1 A 2017 study investigating the effects of magnesium supplementation in people with depression found that 248 milligrams of magnesium chloride led to significant improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms.17

In another study, people with fibromyalgia took 100 grams of magnesium chloride daily for one month. At the end of the month, study participants reported significant reductions in pain and lower stress levels.18

How Much Magnesium for Anxiety?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium from all sources—including food and supplements—is 400–420 milligrams daily for adult men and 310–320 milligrams for adult women. The RDA fulfills your body’s basic magnesium needs and is not specific to magnesium for managing anxiety.5

How much magnesium to take for anxiety varies, depending on your age, sex, overall health, and the type of magnesium because different magnesium types have varying absorption rates in the body.19

As with any dietary supplement, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for guidance on the appropriate type and dosage of magnesium for your needs.

Magnesium from Food

Consuming a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you get adequate amounts of magnesium. There are many delicious and nutritious foods that are high in magnesium, including:20

  • Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds
  • Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans
  • Whole grain: Brown rice, quinoa, and millet
  • Fruit: Avocados, bananas, and dried fruits such as raisins and apricots
  • Milk: Dairy (cow’s) milk and milk substitutes, such as soy milk

How Long Does Magnesium Take to Work?

The time it takes for magnesium to work for anxiety depends on several factors, including:

  • Form of magnesium: Each form of magnesium has unique properties that influence how well the body absorbs it. Highly bioavailable forms include magnesium glycinate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium L-threonate.21,22
  • Baseline magnesium levels: If you have a magnesium deficiency, supplementation may take longer to boost your body’s magnesium levels and reduce anxiety.
  • Diet: The foods you eat can influence how your body absorbs magnesium. Evidence suggests that protein and medium-chain triglycerides (fats) found in certain foods (e.g., coconut oil and whole milk) may aid magnesium absorption in the body.23
  • Dosage and timing: Research suggests that splitting magnesium supplement doses up throughout the day (three smaller doses as opposed to one larger dose) improves absorption and effectiveness.23

How long magnesium takes to work for anxiety varies from person to person. Some people may notice improvements within a week of magnesium supplementation, while others may not see any benefits for six weeks or longer. If you don’t experience improvements after several weeks, talk to a healthcare provider about adjusting your dosage or exploring other anxiety treatment options.

Anxiety Coping Strategies

Magnesium can be an excellent tool for managing anxiety when combined with other coping strategies, such as:24

  • Regular exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that help relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Breathing exercises: Focused breathing techniques can calm your mind and body.
  • Good sleep hygiene: A regular sleep schedule and a relaxing bedtime routine can promote good quality sleep.
  • Social support: Connecting with family members and friends can provide comfort, support, and understanding when you are anxious or stressed.
  • Time in nature: Spending time outdoors daily is associated with lower rates of anxiety and improved mood.25

Are There Side Effects?

Though magnesium is generally considered safe, some people may experience mild side effects, especially when taking more than the recommended amounts. Possible side effects of magnesium supplementation include:5

  • Stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects while taking magnesium. They may recommend adjusting your dosage or trying alternative forms of magnesium.

Taking more than 5,000 milligrams of magnesium a day can cause magnesium toxicity, which can lead to more severe side effects and require prompt medical attention to prevent complications, such as kidney failure or cardiac arrest. Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:5

  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Facial flushing (redness)
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

Talk to a healthcare provider if you are considering taking magnesium to help manage anxiety. They can guide you on the most effective type and the appropriate dosage to meet your needs.


Magnesium may reduce anxiety symptoms by improving sleep quality, calming the nervous system, improving mood, and decreasing muscle tension. Research suggests that magnesium L-threonate and magnesium glycinate may be especially beneficial for improving anxiety. Though individual responses vary, noticeable improvements may occur within weeks of daily magnesium supplementation. Combining magnesium with other healthy coping strategies can amplify its effectiveness.


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  13. Bhattacharjee A, Prajapati SK, Krishnamurthy S. Supplementation of taurine improves ionic homeostasis and mitochondrial function in the rats exhibiting post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptomsEur J Pharmacol. 2021;908:174361. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2021.174361
  14. Zhou X, Huang Z, Zhang J, et al. Chronic oral administration of magnesium-L-threonate prevents oxaliplatin-induced memory and emotional deficits by normalization of TNF-α/NF-κB signaling in ratsNeurosci Bull. 2021;37(1):55-69. doi:10.1007/s12264-020-00563-x
  15. Zhang J, Mai CL, Xiong Y, et al. The causal role of magnesium deficiency in neuroinflammation, pain hypersensitivity, and memory/emotional deficiencies in ovariectomized and aged female miceJ Inflamm Res. 2021;14:6633-6656. doi:10.2147/JIR.S330894
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Important Notice: This article was originally published at by Lindsay Curtis where all credits are due. Medically reviewed by Melissa Bronstein, LICSW


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