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Insufficient magnesium can result in anxiety

Did you know deficiencies in certain nutrients can actually exacerbate the stress in your life? Well insufficient amounts of just one mineral, magnesium, can result in anxiety, asthma, anorexia, birth defects, hardened arteries, mental disorders, hyperactivity, hypertension, hypothermia, insomnia, menstrual pain, muscle weakness, tremors, seizures, and it’s been linked in studies to be associated with increased risk of cancer development.

Stress & Magnesium

When it comes to stress and magnesium: lack of magnesium tends to magnify the stress reaction, which in turn creates more stress and worsens the problem. Research has shown that adrenaline and cortisol, which are by-products of our “fight or flight response” when we are anxious or in danger are directly associated with decreased levels of magnesium. The problem with stress and the “fight or flight response” of the sympathetic nervous system,  which is designed to protect us, is we very often have that response to things that are not life threatening. The response is meant to assist us in times of danger, but it becomes detrimental to our health, if our stress levels are way up consistently for drama at work, toxic relationships, unexpected tragedy, road rage in traffic, or common stressors may show up in our daily lives. The other important thing to note is that when the body is in fight or flight mode, we increase our susceptibility to disease, the body does not digest and absorb food as well as it does when relaxed, and we hamper the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

There are many ways to cope with stress including mindfulness exercises, but If you want to reduce your stress levels using nutrition magnesium is key. So it’s important to take a look at your diet and ensure you are getting an adequate amount of Mg rich foods.

Daily Intake

The RDA and UL (Tolerable Upper Limit) levels for magnesium for adults (over 18) are as follows:

RDA Age Male Female
19-30 400 mg 310 mg
31-50 420 mg 320 mg
UL 19 + 350 mg 350 mg

Mg can be helpful as a therapeutic intervention for these conditions:

  • Anxiety, irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Asthma (as intravenous infusion for an acute attack)

Food Sources of Magnesium

Mustard greens, black strap molasses, turnip greens, sea vegetables, green beans and collard greens, spelt, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, kale, cantaloupe, cacao, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews and a variety of seeds, including sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds.



Aldrich, N. (2016). Magnesium. Retrieved from

Haas, E. M., & Levin, B. (2006).Staying healthy with nutrition: the complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.

Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. , Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K.L. & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. (11th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

National Institutes of Health. 2016. Magnesium: Fact sheet for health care professionals. Retrieved from:


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