Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It

Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It

Magnesium is often called the chill pill because of its built-in ability to help you relax. That’s because magnesium helps to regulate the body’s stress response, or more specifically, the release of cortisol in the brain. Let’s look deeply at why having this mineral deficiency can be a real bummer for your mental health and may even cause anxiety.

The Connection Between Magnesium and Anxiety

Magnesium is a mineral that’s known for making up the structure of the bones, but in recent years researchers have found that it’s also linked to brain health. There may even be a link between magnesium and anxiety. It’s also important to the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and kidneys. Deficiencies are becoming more and more common because the mineral has been depleted from modern soils and filtered out of our water.

Magnesium seems to suppress the ability of the hippocampus to stimulate the release of cortisol in the brain. It also reduces the responsiveness of the adrenals, which tell the brain to gear up and begin pumping adrenaline. What’s more, this wonder nutrient can act as a blood/brain barrier to prevent the entrance of stress hormones into the brain.

A number of studies have found a link between a magnesium deficiency and anxiety and depression. One study published in the January 2006 issue of Medical Hypotheses found that magnesium was just as effective at treating depression as antidepressants. Another study published in the January 2012 edition of the journal Neuropharmacology found that a diet deficient in magnesium enhanced anxiety-related behavior in mice.

Do You Have a Magnesium Mineral Deficiency?

Some health conditions like diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, kidney disease as well as drinking too much caffeine, sodas, or alcohol, heavy periods, too much sodium, and prolonged stress, can all make it more difficult to get enough magnesium from your diet. If this is you, consider getting your levels checked.

Symptoms of a deficiency include loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, infertility, personality changes, body odor, difficulty concentrating, carbohydrate cravings, and thyroid problems.

If you’re over 19 years of age, you likely require about 350 mg of magnesium per day, which can usually be found in your diet.

Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Add to Your Diet

Magnesium can be found widely in your diet, but even still, more and more of us are deficient. Make sure you’re getting enough by loading up on magnesium foods. Here are some staples to add to your grocery list:

  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Soy milk
  • Black beans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Avocado
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Kidney beans
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Raisins
  • Beef
  • Broccoli
  • Apple
  • Carrots

3 Magnesium-Loaded Recipes

1. Black Bean Spinach Salad

Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It
Image of salad via Shuttershock

Serves 2

This black bean spinach salad contains ample magnesium. Two cups of spinach contains 48 mg and 1/2 cup black beans contain 147 mg, for a total of 195 mg. You’re well on your way to your daily allotment.

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked black beans
2-3 cups organic baby spinach
2 cups fresh corn
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 shallot chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
Juice of ¼ orange
1 Tbsp. avocado oil
½ tsp. garlic
Salt to taste

Directions

1. Throw everything in the bowl and mix.

Recipe: MyWholeLife

2. Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It
Image of oatmeal via Shuttershock

Oatmeal is a great source of magnesium with 61 mg in a one cup serving. Combine that with 1 cup of soy milk containing another 61 mg of magnesium and you’re already at 122 mg of this miracle mineral.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 crisp organic apples, such as Honey Crisp
3 cups filtered water
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup organic soy milk
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Directions

1. Shred apples with a box grater. Heat a sauce pan up to medium heat and add in apples.

2. Add oats, soy milk, and water. Turn the heat down and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes, add in brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Divide into four bowls and top with a dollop of yogurt.

Recipe adapted from Eating Well

3. Raw, Vegan Cashew Cream

Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It
Image of raw tart via Shuttershock

Just one ounce of cashews contains a whopping 83 mg of magnesium and this raw, vegan cashew cream recipe is a great way to put them to use in your diet. Cashew cream has a variety of uses in a raw or vegan diet. It adds a nondairy creamy base to heavy cream-based soup. Add it to all your favorite raw, vegan desserts or make it the sour cream or crema in a yummy Tex-Mex recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
1/4-1/2 cup filtered water depending on desired thickness
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (for sweet recipe uses)
1/2 tsp. natural vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Directions

1. Throw everything in the blender and blast on high until thick and creamy.
It’s a good idea to start with 1/4 cup of water, and then gradually thin it out in order to achieve the desired thickness.

Recipe: Healthy Blender Recipes

DIY Lavender Magnesium Pillow Spray

Why This Mineral Deficiency Causes Anxiety and How You Can Fix It
Image of lavender via Shuttershock

Soaking in Epsom salts is a common way to get more magnesium into your system, but why not try this oh-so-relaxing lavender linen spray? It’s super easy to make and all you have to do is spray it on your linens each night. It’s the perfect way to make your bedroom a stress-free sanctuary.

I like Epsoak Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate). It’s just one ingredient and it’s GMO-free. Epsom salts are really inexpensive, around $30 for a huge bag, and they go a long way to help relax the muscles, improve skin, and promote relaxation.

Ingredients

5-6 drops lavender essential oil
¼ tsp. epsom salts
1/2 cup filtered water
Small spray bottle

Directions

1. Add the salt to your bottle and then add the essential oil.

2. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Shake well before using. Give your pillow a spray or two each and every night for sound sleep.

Recipe: Real Food Enthusiast

Related on Organic Authority

10 Signs You May Have a Magnesium Deficiency
The ‘Miracle Mineral’ that Is Magnesium
Would You Soak Away Your Stress with Float Therapy?

Image of an anxiety-ridden woman via Shuttershock

Sara Novak
Sara Novak

Sara Novak is an independent journalist who reports on health, science, yoga, and travel. She was a writer for Discovery Communications from 2006-2013 and her work has been featured on Discovery Health, Popular Science, TLC, Animal Planet, What to Expect, TreeHugger, and many more. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. When she's not churning away on her laptop, she can be found atop her yoga mat or walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels.