Could one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency be anxiety? Magnesium is also an impressive infection fighter. It is needed for our cells to synthesise proteins, enable nerve impulses, and efficient muscle function.
Magnesium intake is at a low amongst Americans and Australians and it’s believed that this is, in part, due to a major shift from whole grains to refined flours. Refined flours have a low mineral content, generally only containing 16 percent of the magnesium that’s found in their unrefined, and arguably healthier, counterparts.
Studies have found that feelings of fear and panic can be significantly reduced with greater magnesium intake, and the good news is that the results aren’t limited to generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the world, presenting with symptoms such as fearfulness and panic, but what causes anxiety?
Previously, aspects such as genes and the environment have been closely studied, but more recently the attention has shifted to nutrition. This is largely because of new findings which may suggest that anxiety is more common in developed countries than in developing countries.
“The magnesium requirement during stress soars,” says Dr. Andrea Rosanoff (Centre for Magnesium Education & Research Hawaii). “This includes any kind of stress coming into the body from exercise, mental and emotional, high noise, chemicals, or any other source.” Even someone regularly taking magnesium as part of a dietary program has far greater nutritional requirements when they experience a stress episode of some sort.
Magnesium requirements also rise during healing from a bodily trauma such as injury or an operation. “Part of any bodily healing should include a really good source of magnesium as well as other essential nutrients,” she said.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that has a very important role in many different biological processes. It’s mostly known for its ability to produce energy, and for controlling the release of certain hormones in the body that work to keep the bones strong and healthy.
Along with being a potential contributing factor for anxiety and depression, magnesium deficiency can also have a lot of other effects on the body, including increasing the risk of heart disease, migraines, and high blood pressure.
Magnesium for Anxiety Health Benefits
Research suggests that taking magnesium for anxiety can work well. Studies have found that feelings of fear and panic can be significantly reduced with greater magnesium intake, and the good news is that the results aren’t limited to generalized anxiety disorder. In fact, the magnesium-anxiety association also appears to be strong in terms of both post-traumatic anxiety and premenstrual anxiety, too.
Many foods naturally contain magnesium. Foods with magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, beans, and whole grains, so it’s quite simple to include more magnesium in the everyday diet.
However, it’s also possible to take a magnesium supplement for anxiety if it is more convenient to do so.
Is Magnesium Safe?
One of the biggest benefits of magnesium is that it is generally very safe. In fact, magnesium side effects are very rare, and it is difficult to take too much magnesium because the body is capable of removing unwanted and unnecessary minerals effectively and efficiently.
I am finding that people are buying a number of different brands and sorts of magnesium without understanding that there are lots of different types out there and that many types and mixtures may not give the results we need. This also applies to the form it comes in ie tablets are not well absorbed, capsules are better, and powder is ready to go….works much quicker – but it needs to be a type that the body can absorb in the gut. Proof is if it works!
Vitamin manufacturers often include ingredients that assist their manufacturing process, but don’t help you. For example, many supplements contain magnesium stearate. This chemical helps powders flow, or keeps tablets from crumbling, but it’s NOT good for your health. Magnesium stearate might cause intestinal damage and prevent your proper absorption of nutrients. Other research indicates that it might suppress the activity of T cells—a vital component of your immune system.
Some well-known brands of vitamins are so full of binding agents and coatings that the pills don’t digest at all.
There can be a huge difference between the amount of a nutrient listed on the label and how much your body actually absorbs and assimilates. Bioavailability has a huge impact on how much good a supplement does you. Many companies use magnesium oxide in their products because it’s the cheapest form of magnesium. But it’s nearly impossible for your body to absorb: Clinical research shows that taking 300 mg of magnesium oxide a day for 60 days had no effect at raising peoples’ magnesium levels. It’s only good to clean out the gut!!
Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) – bioavailability is limited and variable with degrees of mild diarrhoea.
Magnesium Hydroxide (milk of magnesia), used as an antacid or laxative – gives poor absorption.
Magnesium citrate attracts water in the intestine, creates more faeces, stimulating the bowel with laxative effect.
Magnesium carbonate is chalk and forms magnesium chloride but is dependent on adequate stomach acid levels to do this. Magnesium chloride is suitable for those with low stomach acid.
Stress results in decreased stomach acid and decreased hydrochloric acid in the stomach results in decreased absorption of magnesium. Antacids decrease magnesium absorption. Magnesium absorption is altered by an unhealthy intestine; IBS, leaky gut, gluten & casein sensitivities, fungii & parasites and low vitamin D.
Magnesium glutamate and aspartate — Avoid these two forms of magnesium completely. Glutamic acid and aspartic acid are components of the dangerous artificial sweetener aspartame. Both of them become neurotoxic.
Magnesium chelate is combined with an amino acid (protein) such as taurate (as in taurine in meat), malate (apple) or glycinate (gelatine) are more bioavailable, the least likely to induce diarrhoea & safest for long term use.
Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin in the form of magnesium oils and sprays if you can’t tolerate oral forms of magnesium. We have the Amazing Oils brand ($35) from Queensland or look on the internet.
Tessa took a closer look at the role of magnesium in muscle relaxation here.
As with many things in life, the important thing is to maintain a good balance. The balance of magnesium and calcium is important to optimise sleep, bowel function and bone density.
I grew up on Milk of Magnesia. And I hated it! Whatever was wrong with us as kids, we got a dose of milk of magnesia and it usually fixed us. I could never work out how it could fix both constipation and diarrhoea, but it did. Now I know why. It normalises muscle function, is an alkaliser and excess hurries out the other end.
In WA our soils are some of the oldest in the world, and are low in many minerals, including magnesium. Settlers here have always needed a source of extra magnesium. I remember my grandfather telling me as a child – “Never forget about the Epsom salts – some day you’ll need it”
Calcium however, is high in our soil. Limestone has 80% calcium. We do not need extra calcium here, but we do need magnesium.
These two minerals balance each other in the body. Calcium contracts. Magnesium relaxes. They have opposite actions. Calcium is high in the bones, in blood and in the intra-cellular fluid. Magnesium is high inside the cell.
Muscle contracts because the message from the nerve enters the muscle cell to tell the calcium to get out of its special box, called the reticulum, and get to work attaching to the actin strand of the muscle tissue.