Magnesium is trending thanks to TikTok, where it’s touted as a miracle supplement.

In a TikTok video that has now garnered over 17 million views and over a million likes, since picked up by various media outlets, the “cool mom” and optometrist describe the supposed benefits of magnesium. Holding a bottle of magnesium glycine to the camera, she shook it a bit before explaining, “I needed to fix my sleep and anxiety. Nothing ever works.”

After taking it for the first time, “I got up very early in the morning, and I felt great… I thought it was just a fluke,” she says. “I tried it again the next day and the next day and the next day—I was waking up before my alarms felt so good. I felt fine all day.”

Not only did her sleep improve, she adds, but she wasn’t feeling anxious.

So should we all be taking magnesium to ensure a good night’s sleep and also reduce anxiety?

Recent research provides, at best, conflicting answers.

An electrolyte, magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle function, is important for a wide range of our body’s processes, and maintains a normal heart rhythm by helping to transport potassium and calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health. The mineral also helps regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and is critical to bone health, according to Harvard Medical School. Because magnesium plays such an important role in our bodies, a severe magnesium deficiency can be life-threatening, according to the cleveland clinic.

As for the mineral’s ability to improve your life, some research suggests that magnesium may be effective in treating mild anxiety. A 2017 review of 18 previous studies examining the relationship between magnesium and anxiety found that supplementation does indeed confer some benefits for those prone to anxiety (with the exception of mothers with postpartum anxiety). “However, the quality of existing evidence is poor,” the authors note.

“There is some evidence that magnesium can help relieve anxiety and even mild forms of depression,” psychiatrist Gregory Scott Brown, in a similar indication that more, larger studies are needed, told National Geographic. Brown, who is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Texas Dell College of Medicine emphasized, however, that those with severe anxiety or depression should seek professional help.

And so far, despite the anecdotes on TikTok, there’s very little research proving that magnesium improves sleep.

A 2012 study of 46 elderly participants monitored over an eight-week period found that those who took magnesium had some signs of better sleep — including an increase in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. However, there was no significant difference in “total sleep time” between the group that received magnesium versus the participants who took a placebo.

And a recent comprehensive review of existing studies on the relationship between magnesium and sleep was inconclusive, with the authors calling for rigorous scientific research to better examine the relationship between the two.

“The association between dietary magnesium and sleep patterns requires well-designed randomized clinical trials with a larger sample size and longer follow-up time (more than 12 weeks) to further elucidate the relationship,” they wrote in the research paper that appeared in the article. January 2023 issue of Biological Trace Element Research.

Furthermore, magnesium supplements are not appropriate for everyone. Magnesium is processed by the kidneys. Those with chronic kidney disease, for example, shouldn’t take magnesium unless their doctor prescribes the supplement, according to Harvard Medical School.

For those who are otherwise healthy and want to try a magnesium supplement to improve their sleep, experts suggest either magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate, taken 30 minutes before bed. But experts advise against eating large amounts, according to USA Today. And it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any kind of supplement.

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium – and other important vitamins and minerals – is to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet.

If you want to increase your magnesium intake the natural way, try eating leafy green vegetables, peanuts, almonds, cashews, beans, bananas, salmon, milk, yogurt, and dark chocolate. (Check out the full list of magnesium-rich foods at the National Institutes of Health.)

For anxiety and insomnia, a little exercise can go a long way — even a 10-minute walk can help relieve anxiety symptoms, according to the American Anxiety and Depression Association. Research shows that nature walks are especially beneficial.

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