It seems like the farther we progress with our modern medical science, the more capable we are of dealing with illness and disease. We’re still working on that whole “cure for the common cold” thing, but other than that we’re pretty much working on keeping everyone safe, healthy, and happy — and we’re doing a pretty good job on a physical level. Mental and emotional health, though? Well, we could use a little help there. Stress and anxiety impact all too many of us at any given moment, and as life gets more complex it seems like these things just keep getting worse.
There are ways to treat stress and anxiety. Therapy, meditation, and pharmaceutical medications all exist to help us stay calm, cool, and collected. But did you know that there’s a nutritional component to reducing stress and anxiety as well? It’s true; according to lots of new medical research, ensuring you have enough magnesium in your diet can go a long way towards having a positive effect on your emotional health.
What Is Magnesium, Exactly?
Have you ever heard the phrase “essential vitamins and minerals”? Well, one of those essential minerals just happens to be magnesium. That’s right, magnesium is a mineral your body needs to function. It’s called an “essential mineral” because the body can’t make any of its own, and that means we need to take magnesium into our bodies in the form of food.
Thankfully, magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the universe. It’s in just about everything we eat at different levels, but things like cereal, grains, nuts, seeds, and green, leafy vegetables often hold the most dietary magnesium. Good thing, too — there are something like 300 different enzymes that simply can’t function without sufficient magnesium.
That’s why you literally cannot get enough. It’s also why magnesium supplements should be on everyone’s daily vitamin regimen.
Magnesium Health Benefits
Whether you get it from the foods you eat or from the supplements you take, taking in magnesium is an absolute must to keep you healthy and happy. In fact, its biggest role, at least when it comes to helping support better stress response and aid in controlling anxiety, is due to its ability to help better brain function by helping regulate the action of neurotransmitters (in addition to all the other things it helps your body do all the time).
Here’s what we know so far about how magnesium works to help with stress and anxiety.
Magnesium for Stress
Your body does not do well under stress. It’s just a fact; the more stress you’re under, the more your body suffers for it. The biological component behind being constantly in stress lies in the hypothalamus, the part of your brain that controls things like your pituitary and adrenal glands. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is made in abundance by the adrenal gland, and if your body bathes in enough cortisol long enough it can lead to all sorts of health problems like high blood pressure, weight gain, insomnia, and insulin resistance.
But guess what happens when you make sure you have a sufficient amount of magnesium in your body? That’s right — magnesium helps the hypothalamus to function properly. Research has shown that taking magnesium supplements regulates the function of the hypothalamus and the adrenal gland within. This can help curb the overproduction of cortisol that’s making you feel constantly stressed.
Magnesium for Anxiety
Stress is one thing; anxiety is another. Yes, it’s true — if you’re anxious, you’re usually stressed. But stress and anxiety don’t always go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to talk about anxiety independently from stress. There’s a good reason for this, as not everyone responds to stress by becoming anxious. For people who do, however, it’s crucial to find something that can treat both issues.
This is where magnesium excels. A number of studies have found quite a lot of evidence regarding how taking magnesium supplements can help reduce the effects of anxiety in those who suffer from it. Again, it’s thought that the ability for magnesium to regulate neurotransmitters is the function behind this benefit, though more research will be needed to pin down how it works specifically.
What Type of Magnesium Should I Take?
Since magnesium is so abundant in so many different forms in the world around us, it can sometimes be confusing when it comes to what type of magnesium you should be taking. It’s most often found in compound form, and these compounds can change how it functions within your body and how it’s absorbed.
Magnesium citrate, for example, is often used in anti-diarrhea medicines, while magnesium oxide is a common migraine medication. Meanwhile, those Epsom salts you use to soothe your sore feet? That’s magnesium sulfate.
So which ones are best for the body? Most medical research has examined how magnesium oxide or yet another compound called magnesium lactate. This isn’t to say that other types of magnesium compounds don’t work as well (or perhaps even better); it’s just the only types that we have solid scholarship on as having a positive effect on stress and anxiety.
How Much Magnesium Should I Have Each Day?
As an essential mineral, we all need to take in a certain amount of magnesium every day. Current recommendations are between 310mg and 420mg daily. This can be achieved either in eating magnesium-rich foods or taking magnesium supplements. The second is usually much easier.
As far as safety is concerned, taking the recommended daily dose or less is considered quite safe, as any excess magnesium your body can’t use is simply filtered out by the kidneys. You can suffer from magnesium overdose if you go far above that limit, though, so always ask your doctor what’s an appropriate magnesium dose for you!
Magnesium: The Best Little Mineral for Health
As an essential mineral, it was already important to get as much magnesium in your diet as possible to keep your body running at peak efficiency. Combine that with its ability to help manage stress and anxiety and you’ve got a winning combination that you can’t miss!