How long does it take for magnesium to work for anxiety?

Magnesium is one of the top 3 minerals found in the body and plays a vital role in maintaining our health. Magnesium plays a critical role in maintaining bone health and regulating heart, brain, sleep, and muscle function. It also lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Magnesium supplements are also considered effective against anxiety because of the role they play in regulating brain function. In this article, we will talk about how long it takes for magnesium to relieve anxiety.

How magnesium works for anxiety

Magnesium is known to contribute to brain function by forming strong neurological pathways. These pathways are necessary for strong communications between the brain and the body. As such a deficiency in magnesium may also induce anxiety.

Magnesium’s main role in treating anxiety is attributed to its interaction with certain neurotransmitters in the brain as well as its action on the hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that manages our response to stress.

  • According to this study, magnesium regulates glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmissions. Glutamate is an amino acid present in the brain that helps stimulate or control the excitement nerve cells making them able to receive vital information. It equally serves as an energy source for brain cells, stimulates memory, acts as a pain transmitter, and regulates sleep. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a calming neurotransmitter in the brain. This neurotransmitter affects our mood and an imbalance may lead to anxiety or depression.
  • Magnesium equally controls activity in the part of the hypothalamus that affects the pituitary and adrenal glands. Both glands manage our response to stress.  

The forms of magnesium supplements

Magnesium on its own is a heavy mineral that can not easily be absorbed by the body when not taken from a food source. It is often bonded with other compounds to facilitate its absorption. There are therefore several types of magnesium complements based on their bonded compound. This also determines their absorption rate. The different forms of magnesium include:

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is obtained by combining magnesium and citric acid. This is one of the most soluble forms of magnesium in water meaning it can be easily absorbed. It is commonly used as a laxative. Research also suggests its use for treating anxiety 

Magnesium glycinate

This form of magnesium is obtained by combining magnesium and glycine, an amino acid. It has a relatively good absorption rate and is commonly used to relieve anxiety, muscle pain, maintain bone health, manage blood sugar levels, maintain normal heart rhythm, and reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms.

Magnesium gluconate

Magnesium gluconate results from the combination of magnesium and gluconic acid. It is commonly used to treat magnesium deficiency and stomach acid-related concerns such as heartburns and acid indigestions.

Magnesium aspartate

This magnesium supplement is one of the most absorbable by the body. It is used to treat depression, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve asthma, and reduce migraines.

Magnesium chloride

This form of magnesium is equally very absorbable by the skin and is used in the reduction of magnesium deficiency. Its action facilitates the dietary intake of magnesium.

Magnesium hydroxide

Magnesium hydroxide is commonly known as milk of magnesia. This magnesium supplement is mainly used as a laxative to relieve constipation.

Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is a magnesium supplement bonded with oxygen ions. It is mainly used to treat or prevent magnesium deficiencies. It equally serves to treat digestive conditions like heartburn, indigestion, constipation, magnesium deficiency, and other ailments.  This magnesium supplement is not easily absorbed in the body.

Magnesium lactate

Magnesium lactate is obtained from the combination of magnesium and lactic acid. This form of magnesium is typically used as a flavouring agent and food additive. However, it shows potential as a treatment for anxiety. It is easily absorbed by the body.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is commonly known as Epsom salt. It is made through the combination of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfur. This form of magnesium is usually used to soothe achy muscles and relieve stress. It comes in a salt form and is dissolved in bath water or used in skincare lotions and oils for its relaxing properties.

Magnesium  malate

Obtained from the combination of magnesium and malic acid, magnesium malate is principally used to calm digestive issues and serves as a laxative. It also shows the potential to relieve chronic fatigue, however, more research is needed to fully support this claim.

Magnesium L-threonate

Magnesium L-threonate is the salt formed from the combination of magnesium and threonic acid. This magnesium supplement is usually used for its potential in improving proper brain function. It is known to possibly help manage certain brain disorders, such as depression and age-related memory loss.

What is the best form of magnesium for anxiety?

The best forms of magnesium for anxiety are magnesium glycinate, magnesium lactate and magnesium oxide. Most studies reporting the use of magnesium as a treatment for anxiety mention the last two forms of magnesium.

Although the said studies are not conclusive, they highlight the potential of magnesium in dealing with anxiety and recommend further studies.

How long does it take for magnesium to work for anxiety?

Reports on how long magnesium takes to relieve anxiety show a lot of subjectivity. It mostly depends on the form of magnesium in question. Supplements like magnesium citrate and glycinate absorb better than magnesium oxide, therefore, will work faster.

Generally, though, magnesium taken in a form of pills will take a week to show its first effects, while topical forms will act almost immediately because they get absorbed faster.

Studies demonstrating the positive effect of magnesium supplements on anxiety, report improvements took between 21 – 90 days.

Keep in mind that the length of time it takes for magnesium to work for anxiety depends on several factors, including the level of deficiency, age and dosage.

When is the best time to take magnesium for anxiety?

Generally, magnesium can be taken at any time of the day. However, it is always best to check with your doctor before you commence treatment or refer to indications on the bottle of your product. It is best to take magnesium supplements on a full stomach to avoid irritations.

How much magnesium should I take daily for anxiety?

There is no standard dosage for magnesium supplements as this varies based on gender, age, weight, and the brand and form of magnesium in question.

However, the American National Institute of Health has come up with Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for magnesium (all forms). Based on this guide, this is how much magnesium adults should consume daily (this includes food and supplements):

  • 19+ years, males: 400mg – 420mg
  • 19+ years, females: 310mg – 320mg

Since this guide does not offer much guidance on supplements, to decide how much magnesium you should take daily for your anxiety you should really look at the available studies.

In this study, a dosage of 192 mg of magnesium lactate was shown to have positive effects on mild anxiety.

In another study, a dosage of 300mg of magnesium citrate was successfully administered to participants. The general consensus is that daily intake of this supplement is best at a maximum of 350mg.

Although generally known to be safe, an overdose of magnesium may lead to side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. The best option is to see a physician for the most suitable dosage for you.

To date, the action of magnesium on anxiety is still mostly unknown to scientists. However, subjective reports from the few clinical studies that have been carried out show great potential for magnesium supplements to be officially recognized as anxiety medication.

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