best magnesium supplements for anxiety
Reduce Anxiety & Stress,  Supplements

Best Magnesium Supplement for Anxiety

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With all the different magnesium options available, it’s hard to know which one will give you the best results. We dove deep into the various magnesium types and brands to find the best magnesium supplement for anxiety.

Magnesium glycinate is our favorite type of magnesium, based on how well it absorbs into the body. Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium is our top choice.

Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium

doctors best magnesium glycinate

This is our favorite magnesium supplement for anxiety! It’s a high absorption chelated magnesium that delivers 200 mg per serving. You’ll take one serving twice a day to get the recommended daily value.

Doctor’s Best formulated this supplement with a patented process to optimize absorption and minimize effects on the stomach. As you’re likely aware, some of the other supplements out there can leave you running for the bathroom.

Doctor’s Best supplements are known for their high-quality ingredients and science-backed formulations. They’ve been around since 1990 and now have over 200 products on the market.

Pros

This supplement offers straight-up Chelated Magnesium Glycinate. It’s not buffered or loaded with useless fillers. It’s Vegan, NON-GMO, Soy Free, and Gluten-Free.

It received an 83.8 / 100 on Labdoor, with strong ratings for label accuracy, product purity, and nutritional value. This product has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon.

This supplement is also affordable, compared to most other Magnesium Glycinate options. You’ll pay around $0.7 per serving or $0.15 per day to get the recommended daily value (of magnesium).

Cons

Magnesium Glycinate is a larger molecule so it takes up more volume to deliver the needed daily value. This is why the tablets are large and require eating four tablets per day to get to 400 mg per day. Those who struggle swallowing large pills may have trouble taking these whole.

See some of the other top Magnesium Glycinate supplement compared here.

Overall this is a fantastic supplement, which is probably the best option out there for anxiety.

Why is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body that is vital for human function. Around 60% of your body’s magnesium is in the bones. The rest is in muscles, soft tissues, and in blood.

Magnesium helps with energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements, and nervous system regulation. It supports over 300 metabolic reactions! Needless to say, having enough magnesium is critical for the body.

It has even been dubbed the “nature’s valium” and the “original chill-pill.” Dr. Carolyn Dean wrote an entire book named The Magnesium Miracle that highlights the amazing magnesium benefits.

Does Magnesium Work for Anxiety?

It can! As with most natural options, the research is slim. While small in numbers, there are a handful of promising studies suggesting magnesium can help anxiety and stress.

For those struggling with a magnesium deficiency, various side-effects are common that can intensify anxiety and stress. The impact of magnesium for anxiety relief isn’t entirely known, but studies suggest a link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety related symptoms.

There have even been case studies of individuals who suffered with depression and severe anxiety who tried common pharmaceuticals (such as Lithium) without success, who then had major improvements by taking a magnesium glycinate supplement. Who would have thought?

Magnesium may counter stress by binding to and stimulating GABA receptors 3. GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that helps send messages between the brain and the nervous system. Its main function is to limit the activity of cells in the nervous system. In other words, it helps keep the brain from getting overexcited. Low GABA levels are commonly associated with the “tired but wired” feeling.

Magnesium can lead to better, higher quality sleep. Getting poor sleep is a known contributor to anxiety, so if you are having trouble getting to sleep each night, magnesium just may provide the help you need.

Magnesium plays a major role in calming the nervous system due to its ability to block brain N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), thereby inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission.5 Again this helps keep the brain from getting overstimulated.

Another interesting study found that magnesium increased neuroplasticity in rats, leading to eliminating fear related memories without impacting the original memory.6

Magnesium for Anxiety Dosage

The daily recommended magnesium values for adults range from 310mg-400mg, per the National Institutes of Health. A good place to start is to take a hard look at the magnesium consumed through daily diet and increase from there. When in doubt, stick to the recommended values. Most magnesium supplements have recommended doses around 350mg per day, although prescribed doses for migraines and anxiety are generally a bit higher.

Taking too much magnesium can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and respiratory distress. The following table represents the upper intake levels for supplemental magnesium, per the National Institutes of Health.

AgeMaleFemalePregnantLactating
Birth to 12 monthsNone establishedNone established  
1–3 years65 mg65 mg  
4–8 years110 mg110 mg  
9–18 years350 mg350 mg350 mg350 mg
19+ years350 mg350 mg350 mg350 mg

Adults cap out at a daily (supplement) intake of 350mg, regardless of age or gender.

What Type of Magnesium is Best for Anxiety?

When delving into the world of magnesium supplements, it’s easy to get confused. Prices vary widely and there a many different types, some which are more effective than others.

  • Magnesium Carbonate – Not absorbed well, common remedy for heartburn.
  • Magnesium Chloride – Type of magnesium you’ll absorb when swimming in the ocean.
  • Magnesium Citrate – Combined with citric acid and can have a laxative effect.
  • Magnesium Glycinate – Absorbs well and can be effective for anxiety.
  • Magnesium Oxide – Often the cheapest, used for heartburn.
  • Magnesium Sulfate – This is the type used in epsom salts
  • Magnesium Threonate – Harder to find, but it absorbs well and can be effective for anxiety.

magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium sulfate (to name a few). So which type of magnesium is best for anxiety? Here’s what you need to know before choosing a supplement.

Magnesium as a molecule is not stable by itself. To be stable, it needs to be bound to something else, which is where the different names come from. The magnesium part is always the same, it’s the other molecule that the magnesium is bonded to, which makes the difference. Each type absorbs differently which lead to varying levels of efficacy.

Magnesium Carbonate

Also known as magnesite, this type of magnesium is thought to be harder to be absorbed by the body. It’s an over-the-counter remedy for heartburn and upset stomach due to overproduction of acid in the stomach.7

Chelated Magnesium

Chelated magnesium uses a process to bind magnesium to a negatively charged group, or anion to make it easier for the body to absorb. Common types of magnesium chelates include citrate, lactate, gluconate.

Chelate easy to for the body to absorb. This is the kind of magnesium that is found in foods naturally. It is bound to multiple amino acids (proteins) which can be great to correcting magnesium deficiencies.

Magnesium Chloride

This type contains only 12% magnesium, although is is better absorbed than others, such as magnesium oxide. The next time you jump in the ocean, you’ll be absorbing this type of magnesium.

Magnesium Citrate

This is magnesium combined with citric acid. While safe to use, this option may cause a laxative effect, according to Dr. Axe.8

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is one of the more popular (and effective) chelated magnesiums. It is highly absorbable, so it can be a good option for upping magnesium intake. Also, this form is the least likely to cause the laxative effect that many magnesium supplements can cause.

Magnesium Oxide

This is a non-chelated type of magnesium is a laxative and it’s good for acid reflux. It is less effective for correcting magnesium imbalances as it is poorly absorbed in the gut.9 While this type of magnesium is cheap, it’s not a good option for anxiety. Since it is low cost, this form of magnesium is commonly found in daily multi-vitamins (either this or Magnesium sulfate).

Magnesium Sulfate

Sulfate is another cheaper magnesium option that isn’t a good option to ingest (unless you’re looking for a laxative). However, Epson Salts, which are made from magnesium sulfate can be great to use in a bath for relaxation. Next time you take a bath, try lavender scented Epsom salt, this can be a great way to absorb additional magnesium.

Magnesium Threonate

This type of magnesium is a little harder find, but it is thought to have high absorbability and even the ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. While research is limited on this form, some believe this is the best magnesium supplement available on the market.10

Which Form of Magnesium is Best for Anxiety?

So with all the magnesium types out there, which one is best for anxiety? Go with a chelated magnesium supplement.  This will avoid many of the laxative side-effects and lead to better absorption.

Magnesium Glycinate is the the best option for anxiety. Glycine is a larger molecule so you’ll have less magnesium by weight, but it absorbs well. On top of that, glycine itself is a relaxing neurotransmitter so it enhances the calming effects of magnesium.

Here’s what some of the experts have to say about magnesium glycinate

  • Dr. Mercola – “It tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.”
  • Healthline – “It can help relieve anxiety and promote better sleep.”
  • Dr. Axe – “Tends to provide high levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency.”
  • Medical News Today – “It is also one of the gentlest supplements on the stomach.”

Magnesium Glycinate is easy to find and it’s affordable. But even when you narrow it down to Magnesium Glycinate, there are still many options to choose from.

So which magnesium supplement is best?

Do I have a Magnesium Deficiency?

One survey found that the majority of people are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. Many factors that can lead to magnesium deficiency.  Here are the most common reasons:

  • Low magnesium diet
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Conditions such as diabetes
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Low magnesium levels can lead to negative effects to bone density, brain function, nerve and muscle function, and the digestive system. The symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can lead to the following:

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities
  • Cramps and tight muscles
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Abnormal heart rate

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or think that you may have a magnesium deficiency, call your doctor for the appropriate testing and examination.

There isn’t a sure-fire test to determine if you have a magnesium deficiency since the majority of the body’s magnesium is in our bones. Blood, urine, and saliva tests can be indicators of low magnesium levels, but they may not tell the entire story. The best place to start is by looking at the amount of magnesium you consume in your diet each day.

According to the National Institutes of Health 1, the recommended daily amount of magnesium is as follows:

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*  
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*  
1–3 years80 mg80 mg  
4–8 years130 mg130 mg  
9–13 years240 mg240 mg  
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg  

Top Foods to Eat for Magnesium

The best way to reach adequate magnesium levels is through a balanced, healthy diet. Levels of magnesium in common foods have decreased over time with the increase of processed and less natural food sources.

Foods rich in magnesium

But don’t worry! There are plenty of yummy foods rich in magnesium that can help boost daily intake.

  • Whole Wheat
  • Spinach
  • Quina
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Swiss Chard
  • Black Beans
  • Edamame
  • Figs (dried)
  • Peanuts
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Tofu
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pumpkin and sesame seeds

Resources

Marc Kraft

Marc is the creator of Mindful Searching, a content site dedicated to providing actionable, unbiased tips to reduce anxiety, stress, and improve cognitive performance. He's struggled with social anxiety for many years. Over the last 5 years, Marc has been researching and testing lifestyle changes, products, and techniques to build a happier, healthier, anxiety-free life.