TikTok creators think magnesium is a 'magic pill' for anxiety and sleepless nights, experts weigh in
TikTok videos in which users claim magnesium glycinate supplements alleviated their anxiety are raking in millions of views.
Two psychologists told Insider scant research exists on magnesium supplements and anxiety.
Plus, one psychologist, who is also a dietitian, said getting magnesium from food is better than from supplements.
Anxiety is up 25% since the pandemic began, and psychologists say people with the disorder are increasingly turning to "quick remedies" — including the now-trendy magnesium glycinate supplements going viral on TikTok.
Melissa Gray, a TikTok user based in Florida, said in a video viewed more than 16 million times that she has long had trouble finding help for her anxiety and trouble sleeping until she started taking magnesium glycinate supplements, which combine magnesium with the amino acid glycine to allow for easier absorption in the body.
She went from feeling constantly tired no matter how long she slept, to waking up each day feeling well-rested and less anxious after just a week of taking the supplements.
@meli.gray #stitch with @apexmandan the way this is working for me 🤌 first week taking #magnesiumglycinate #magnesiumglycinatebenefits #magnesiumdeficiency ♬ original sound - meli
Other videos of TikTok users reporting less anxiety and better sleep from taking magnesium have received millions of views.
@bullseyeonthebargain I LOVE this supplement so much! It has made a HUGE difference with mood swings, anxiety and trouble sleeping! Did you know magnesium is the #1 nutritional deficiency!?! #antianxiety #vitaminsthatwork #costcotiktok #costcomusthaves #magnesiumdeficiency #magnesiumglycinate #fyp #greenscreenvideo ♬ original sound - Niana Guerrero @niesha.b That lemonade mix! #GetCrackin #naturalweightloss #naturalweightlosstransformation💪🏽 #ashwagandha ##tumeric##gingerbenifits##magnesiumglycinatebenefits##pcossupplements ♬ Originalton - CENKGO
Though magnesium, one of the body's essential nutrients, can promote good sleep, psychologists told Insider no research has born out a link between magnesium glycinate supplements and lessened anxiety, and a registered dietitian said people are better off getting their magnesium through food, not pills.
Magnesium promotes good sleep, but researchers don't know how it affects anxiety
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, mostly found in bones and teeth.
Researchers have only begun studying whether taking magnesium supplements impacts anxiety, Dr. Supatra Tovar, a clinical psychologist and registered dietitian based in Pasadena, California, told Insider. Tovar pointed to a 2017 review of 18 small studies, which found magnesium supplementation relieved anxiety in people who were diagnosed with the disorder, but the paper's authors noted the quality of the evidence was poor and more research is needed to establish a link.
Many people with anxiety, defined by excessive feelings of fear or worry, have trouble sleeping, and some of magnesium's sleep-promoting benefits might explain its perceived role in helping with the mental illness. For instance, Tovar said magnesium counteracts glutamate, an amino acid and neurotransmitter that spikes in the body when you're awake and when you're in pain.
Magnesium can also aid with muscle relaxation by blocking the calcium in your body from contracting your muscles, possibly allowing for a more calm state for sleep, sleep scientists previously told Insider.
Still, no data exists that shows magnesium supplementation lowers anxiety, said Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett, a psychologist and author of "Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman's Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear."
"There's just no good research out there that supports that magnesium works or doesn't work for anxiety," Neal-Barnett told Insider.
Supplements are not the best treatment for anxiety
Both Tovar and Neal-Barnett said they've noticed an uptick in patients with anxiety seeking help, which might explain the growing interest in magnesium glycinate on TikTok.
"That uptick is also accompanied by a heightened desire for a quick remedy, a magic pill in the form of magnesium supplements," Tovar said.
Neal-Barnett said she's seen people with anxiety turn to supplements because of the perception that taking prescription medication must mean something is "really wrong with you." But she said people with anxiety might not need to take medication at all — the best, scientifically proven treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy that identifies negative thinking patterns that might influence mental and physical health.
Plus, supplements are loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Tovar said; companies selling magnesium glycinate are not required to show proof of efficacy the way prescription drug firms are required to. Too many can even cause stomach problems, nausea, and vomiting, she added.
"Without FDA oversight, no one can be certain that what is in those supplements is effective or consistent," Tovar said.
The dietitian said if people with anxiety are interested in magnesium, a safer option is to eat foods rich in magnesium, like dark, leafy greens, beans, and nuts. "The change in their diet will add more magnesium to their bodies naturally, which we know the body can process effectively," Tovar said.
Read the original article on Insider