Published on December 15, 2020

Studies show magnesium deficiency can induce symptoms and increase susceptibility to stress, and acute and chronic stress can precipitate magnesium deficiency

The holidays can be a joyous yet stressful time. With the COVID-19 pandemic at its height this holiday season, stress levels are certain to be at record levels for many of us. While stress itself may be unavoidable, there are ways to help your body and mind cope with and recover from the added pressures stress puts on your system.

Could Nutrients Help Improve Your Response to Stress?

The body relies on nutrients for thousands of biological reactions within the body, including those involved in the response to stress. Zinc and copper have been shown to play a role, as have omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

Magnesium is another nutrient that seems to have a major effect on stress, in part due to its role in the operation of over 300 enzymes. A previous post reviewed the results from a clinical trial assessing whether magnesium supplementation could improve depression and anxiety symptoms. Within two weeks, participants supplementing with magnesium demonstrated a significant improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms, whereas no improvement was seen in those without magnesium supplementation. Another study looked at individuals with moderate to severe stress to see how treatment with magnesium or magnesium plus vitamin B6 affected perceived stress levels – rapid and significant reductions in stress were found for all those taking magnesium. There was a 24% greater improvement in stress in the magnesium with vitamin B6 group for those who had severe or extremely severe stress.

Magnesium Plays a Key Role in Stress Regulation

Studies have shown that magnesium concentrations within the central nervous system are prioritized over other areas of the body, indicating that magnesium is essential for brain function. Serotonin, or 5-HT, is a hormone that helps stabilize mood and produces feelings of well-being. It impacts the entire body, with effects on sleep and digestion, as well as stress. Magnesium enhances the interaction between serotonin and its membrane receptors, therefore promoting the transmission of serotonin signaling. Magnesium is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin and the inhibition of stress-inducing molecules such as glutamate and cortisol.

Magnesium helps protect from the negative effects of oxidative stress that may occur due to chronic stress. In fact, a previously reviewed study showed that magnesium supplementation helped to protect DNA from damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation resulting from extreme physical stress.

The Magnesium and Stress “Vicious Circle”

Studies such as those mentioned above support the fact that magnesium plays a protective and regulatory role during the stress response. During times of acute and chronic stress, a decrease of magnesium levels within the body along with an increase in excretion of magnesium in the urine has been observed. In cases of repeated or long-term stress, magnesium may be used-up and levels depleted, leading to a state of magnesium deficiency, and therefore, a compromised stress response.

This observation, as described by Pickering et al., is known as the magnesium and stress vicious circle – the concept that stress increases magnesium loss and can lead to deficiency, while magnesium deficiency in turn enhances the body’s susceptibility to stress. The recommendation that magnesium intake should be increased during increased times of stress is based on this bidirectional relationship between stress and magnesium.

Unfortunately Over Half of Americans Do Not Get Adequate Magnesium

There has been an estimated decline of magnesium intake in the United States over the last 100 years, from approximately 500 mg/day to 175-225 mg/day. A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006 (the most recent for which this set of information is available), based on dietary recall and did not include nutrient intake from supplements, was conducted to determine the intake of specific nutrients through the diet. The chart below illustrates the findings from this survey, based on the comparison of magnesium intake from food and water to the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of magnesium. The EAR is the estimated amount of a nutrient’s daily intake needed for half of the healthy population to meet their daily requirements, broken down by age and gender – similar to the RDA, although the amounts referred to are lower. Nearly half of all individuals 1 year and older and more than two thirds of teenagers (ages 14-18) and elderly adults (ages 71 and over) had inadequate magnesium intakes when compared to the EAR.

Click to Enlarge & Print

Similarities between Symptoms of Stress and Magnesium Deficiency

With the above taken into consideration, it makes sense that magnesium deficiency and stress exhibit similar symptoms. The table below outlines some of the top symptoms of stress and magnesium deficiency, with the most common being fatigue, irritability, and mild anxiety.

Click to Enlarge & Print

Ensure Healthy Magnesium Levels to Help Combat the Effects of Stress

Stress is only one of several factors affecting magnesium balance in the body, making it important to test your magnesium levels. Co-factors, especially vitamin D, are also important to measure. Do you know what your status of vitamin D, magnesium, and other essential nutrients is? Could your levels be improved? Test now to find out!

What does the Research Say about Vitamin D & COVID-19?

It’s TIME to start saving lives! If you can help PREVENT the majority of the death, it’s time! What’s it costing you/us not to take action NOW?

There is much published research that supports a clear link between vitamin D and COVID-19 showing that higher vitamin D levels are related to:

a decreased risk of testing positive for COVID-19

increased viral SARS-CoV-2 RNA clearance

better clinical outcomes among patients with COVID-19

less severe COVID-19 disease

decreased risk of death due to COVID-19

Be sure to educate yourself on the benefits and importance of vitamin D for immune health, and take steps to ensure you and your loved ones are getting enough.

You can review all of the COVID-19 and immune health information we have shared on this page.

What Does it Take YOU to Get Your D to 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)?

Did you know your health could be greatly affected by making sure you have a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L)? Help us help you.

STEP 1 - Do you know what your vitamin D level is? If not, be sure to test today to find out.

STEP 2 – Determine your target level. Are you at your target level? Experts recommend a level of at least 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L).

STEP 3 – Need to boost your level? Use the D*calculator to see how much vitamin D it may take to reach your target. Opt for the Loading Dose for a quicker boost.

STEP 4 – Optimize how your body absorbs and utilizes vitamin D with co-nutrients and these simple steps.

STEP 5 – Re-Test! This is an important step to make sure you have reached your target level, and to ensure you are not taking too much! Re-testing after 3-4 months is recommended.

STEP 6 – Adjust, Repeat…

Give your immune system the nutrients it needs to support a healthy you and protect yourself from unnecessary diseases, especially COVID-19.


The first Randomized Controlled Trial on vitamin D and COVID-19 has shown a 96% lower risk of ICU admission for those receiving vitamin D (as 25(OH)D to quickly boost vitamin D blood levels) along with the standard treatment, compared to those receiving standard treatment alone.

These results support many previous observational studies showing a relationship between vitamin D levels and intake and COVID-19 severity.

Review the Latest Nutrient Research for COVID-19

GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute has launched the new Immune Boost project with the use of our myData-myAnswers nutrient health system that nearly 15,000 people are already using for their health. Specific markers that influence immune health are suggested for testing as part of this project including:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Index
  • Essential elements magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • hsCRP

Our goal is to demonstrate how one can use the Nutrient Research Model established by Dr. Robert Heaney to show the effect of vitamin D serum levels of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) on risk reduction for all ethnicities in the population. Status and intake of other nutrients will also be analyzed for any type of relationship to immune status and symptom severity. Join the project today!

Please let us know if you're interested in helping sponsor this project.

CLICK HERE for updates and new information about the project.

Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.

Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!

Click Here to Access the Test Page

How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?

To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created the Personal Health Nutrient Decision System called

For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details.  This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels. Check it out today!