This post contains links through which we may earn a small commission should you make a purchase from a brand. This in no way affects our ability to objectively critique the products and brands we review.
Evidence Based Research To fulfill our commitment to bringing our audience accurate and insightful content, our expert writers and medical reviewers rely on carefully curated research.
Read Our Editorial Policy
Magnesium is one of the most vital and versatile minerals in the human diet, contributing to muscle health, neurological function, healthy aging, and more.
Everyone knows what carbs and fats do—at least on the surface—but the mention of trace minerals like magnesium tends to elicit a less confident reply.
It’s only appropriate that we introduce this mineral as it is applied against one of the most successful threats to public health: stress.
Read on to learn how much magnesium you need, how it can help with stress, which foods contain it, and how you can easily meet your daily intake.
Magnesium RDA and Deficiency Symptoms
The magnesium RDA varies widely based on age and gender, but anyone can become deficient. Common symptoms include muscle fatigue, nausea, weakness, and more.
Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the magnesium RDA ranges from 30mg to 420mg depending on age and gender, and it is increased in the case of pregnancy.
Food sources of magnesium include chia seeds, almonds, peanuts, soymilk, edamame, bananas, and more.
It’s important to remember that the body does not absorb nutrients with a hundred percent efficiency, and magnesium is no exception; we absorb about 30% to 40% of the magnesium we consume through diet.
Full-blown deficiency is still fairly uncommon, however, since the kidneys know to horde this micronutrient (by not excreting it through urine) when dietary supply is scarce, but this mechanism can’t hold the line forever.
When deficiency does occur, symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, seizures, and more.
That’s enough time spent in the negative—let’s see what the research has to say about what magnesium can do.
Research-Proven Benefits of Magnesium
There’s more than one type of stress, and magnesium can help with several.
Just a hundred or two milligrams of this hard-working mineral can stave off inflammation, regulate stress hormones, improve muscle and bone health, and more.
First, a look at the complex interactions between neural inflammation, stress, and free radicals.
Magnesium and Substance P
Substance P may not be what it sounds like—a zombifying compound accidentally created and secretly covered up by the government—but its effects are hardly any less nefarious when it runs rampant in the body.
This pro-stress compound contributes to processes that cause nerve inflammation, which in turn increases oxidative stress, which in turn pumps more free radicals into circulation.
In other words, too much substance P causes a cascade of effects that damage our cells in various ways.
As this study from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iasi, Romania explains, substance P is commonly observed “both in early (4-7 days) and late (3 weeks) phases of the systemic response to Mg deficiency.”
Among the cascade of effects associated with the magnesium-deficiency-induced release of substance P is a commensurate increase in the stress hormone corticosterone by the adrenal glands.
That’s not the only correlation between magnesium levels and stress hormones, either.
Stress Hormone Number Two: Catecholamine
In the case of the stress hormone catecholamine, magnesium deficiency causes a particularly troublesome, self-perpetuating loop that can reap serious damage if allowed enough time.
This study from the Regional Centre of Public Health in Iasi, Romania found that magnesium can inhibit catecholamine release “by a direct presynaptic effect under the action of some factors including calcium.”
Translated, this means that magnesium works in tandem with calcium and other substances to reduce the amount of catecholamine that gets sent from one nerve to another.
Maintaining an adequate supply of magnesium is especially crucial in the context of this stress hormone because, when magnesium is deficient, catecholamine release actually stimulates what magnesium is left to be spent even faster through magnesium wasting.
Clinical Applications Continue to Grow
However efficacious it may be in the arena of stress, it’s unlikely that magnesium will be typecast as a stress reliever and nothing else, as experts are always exposing “hidden talents” and expanding on previous findings related to a wealth of magnesium’s clinical applications.
This University of Alberta study provides a broad survey of magnesium’s roles in many different bodily processes, explaining how it contributes to or helps with menstrual distress, hot flashes, autonomic dysfunction, “muscle performance” ADHD, and more.
Magnesium is even used by astronauts to fight the effects of living in space, which include premature aging, bone health, heart health, and more.
Given its nearly all-encompassing benefits, the question of magnesium intake is not one of if, but rather how one should meet their RDA level.
How to Reliably Increase Your Magnesium Intake
A balanced diet should yield a healthy magnesium intake level, but it’s a high bar to meet consistently. Supplements will take you the rest of the way.
If you’re stressing out about having to eat ten bananas or a pound of pumpkin seeds every day, you’re defeating the purpose of an anti-stress diet.
All kidding aside, achieving the magnesium RDA is not completely infeasible if you constantly rotate magnesium-rich foods like seeds, nuts, brown rice, and other items mentioned above, but it’s not a comfortably maintained practice either.
Nutrients are always best derived from food, but that doesn’t mean supplements can’t help close the gaps that will inevitably occur.
This is why we highly recommend Hi-Health’s Ultra Plan Magnesium capsules.
Each of these wheat-, dairy-, and gluten-free capsules contains 300mg of magnesium, which constitutes 75% or even more of the magnesium RDA depending on your demographic.
With just one capsule per day, you can free up your diet plan to fit your preferences and your other nutritional goals with much less ado.