Chronic stress can be worsened by low levels of magnesium. A new form of magnesium has been shown to produce a brain-calming effect. In a 2022 report, the American Psychological Association noted that 73 percent of U.S. adults say they feel “overwhelmed by the number of crises facing the world right now.”1
People suffering from stress-related symptoms, depression, or anxiety often have low blood levels of magnesium.4
In a follow-up analysis of a clinical study, it was found that approximately 44 percent of participants screened for stress were magnesium deficient.5
Preclinical studies found that a specific form of magnesium called magnesium acetyl taurate increased brain tissue levels of magnesium more effectively than other forms of magnesium tested.6,7
Magnesium acetyl taurate was recently tested in women with premenstrual syndrome over a duration of three menstrual cycles, who had inadequate magnesium intake from food.8
Researchers found improved scores for symptoms of stress including nervous tension, anxiety, irritability, headache, fatigue, and depression in women supplementing with magnesium acetyl taurate twice daily.
Decades ago, researchers first noticed a link between magnesium and stress.9,10
Many of the frequently-reported symptoms of stress—fatigue, irritability, anxiety, headache, and upset stomach—are the same symptoms commonly found in patients with magnesium deficiency.4
As scientists explored the connection, they discovered that it goes both ways:4,11
This can create a vicious circle. As low magnesium levels make the effects of stress more severe, that further reduces magnesium levels, making people even more susceptible to stress, and so on.4
On the other hand, maintaining adequate magnesium levels helps protect against stress and other conditions.
Magnesium is an important cofactor for the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter closely linked to positive mood and feelings of calm. Most antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications act at least partially by modulating serotonin neurotransmission.4,11
Magnesium can also inhibit release of the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal gland.12
Scientists identified a specific form of magnesium that, taken orally, can rapidly increase brain levels of magnesium.
Magnesium acetyl taurate is magnesium combined with a form of the amino acid taurine. The combination makes it easier for the magnesium to cross the blood/brain barrier.
Studies have found that this form of magnesium was more easily absorbed into the brain than the other forms of magnesium tested.
In one study, rats were given either magnesium acetyl taurate or two other common forms of magnesium, magnesium sulfate and magnesium oxide.6 Brain tissue and blood magnesium levels were significantly higher after eight hours in the group receiving magnesium acetyl taurate.
Another preclinical study pitted magnesium acetyl taurate against four other common forms of magnesium: magnesium sulfate, oxide, citrate, and malate.7 Again, brain levels of magnesium were significantly higher in the group receiving magnesium acetyl taurate than with control or any of the other forms of magnesium tested.
This study also found that magnesium acetyl taurate was associated with decreased anxiety indicators in rodents.
This form of magnesium has also shown promise in an early study in humans.8
Researchers enrolled adult women with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome who had inadequate magnesium intake in their diet.8 Premenstrual syndrome can cause symptoms similar to those of stress.
After receiving 385 mg of magnesium acetyl taurate twice daily over a series of three consecutive menstrual cycles, scores for numerous symptoms were significantly reduced, including those for nervous tension, anxiety, irritability, headache, fatigue, and depression.
Intake of this form of magnesium may promote calm and help people cope with symptoms of stress and anxiety, whatever the cause.
Chronic stress can be extremely harmful, increasing the risk cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other conditions.
The close link between stress and levels of magnesium in the body has sparked the interest of researchers.
A specific form of magnesium called magnesium acetyl taurate improves the bioavailability of magnesium and was found to be more effective at raising brain levels of this essential mineral than the other forms of magnesium tested.
Magnesium is an important essential mineral in the body.
It is involved in most major metabolic and biochemical processes and serves as a cofactor (“helper molecule”) for more than 300 different enzymatic reactions.
Low magnesium has been tied to numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety.
Suboptimal levels of magnesium are more common than most people realize.
It has been estimated that 64 percent of all men and 67 percent of women in the U.S. have inadequate dietary intake of magnesium. More than 80 percent of people over the age of 71 have an inadequate dietary intake of magnesium.
Making matters worse, excessive sodium intake, high alcohol and caffeine intake, and some medications (including proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux) can further contribute to lower magnesium levels.
(This article was scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2022, and was written by Stuart Sanchez.)