Magnesium Oxide for Anxiety

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You need magnesium for some 300 biochemical reactions, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. This mineral is found naturally in foods like beans and leafy greens, and is manufactured synthetically as magnesium oxide. The supplement has been linked to mood problems like anxiety in two ways—as both a side effect of its use and as a way to treat the condition.

Basics

If you buy magnesium oxide, it is sold under the names Mag-Ox and Uro-Mag. It may be taken for many reasons, according to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, including to help with heartburn and as a laxative. Depending on your condition and the brand you use, you may take it in pill form from one to four times daily.

Importance

If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, you can experience problems like weakness, exhaustion and you may not want to eat. As your body becomes more deficient of the mineral, you may experience mood and personality changes, according to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Anxiety is a mood disorder characterized by insomnia, constant worries over small concerns, lack of concentration and a racing heart, among other manifestations, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Treatment

Dr. Mary Gallenberg of the Mayo Clinic suggests magnesium as a cure for conditions like PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). A particularly severe form of PMS, the condition’s basis is in anxiety and depression. Gallenberg said any physical changes brought on by the menstrual period act to worsen any underlying mood problems.

Effectiveness

Of the three key types of magnesium supplements to boost your diet, the Office of Dietary Supplements reports that magnesium oxide has the lowest level of what’s called “bioavailability,” which is a measure of how effective the medication is at being released into the body. Factors like the outside coating of the supplement can influence how much magnesium is absorbed by the body, according to the NIH.

Side Effects

Anxiety has been linked to magnesium supplements. The NIH lists mood and mental changes as an effect of the drug, and the Cleveland Clinic reports anxiety occurs in those taking brands like Mag-Ox, though such mood disturbances don't happen often.

Alternatives

The best way to get the magnesium you need is to eat foods that contain it, according to the NIH. These include foods packed with chlorophyll, which gives spinach and broccoli that green hue. Grains, beans and nuts are also good sources of the mineral. If a magnesium supplement must be used, other options include magnesium sulfate and magnesium carbonate, which have both been found to have higher rates of bioavailability than magnesium oxide.

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