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Health & Nutrition
Dimitar Marinov
Senior Product Researcher MD, PhD, Assistant Professor

The Powerful Benefits of Magnesium and Ashwagandha - and How to Take Them Together for Maximum Effect

 

Do you often feel stressed out? Do you have trouble sleeping at night? 

If so, then you may be interested in magnesium and ashwagandha. These two supplements have powerful benefits for stress relief and sleep quality. 

But can you take magnesium and ashwagandha together? And if so, how should you take them to get the most benefit? 

In this blog post, you will discover all you should know about the benefits of magnesium and ashwagandha and how to take them together for maximum effect!

Let's dive right in!

 

 

 

What are the benefits of magnesium?

 

 

Magnesium is an essential mineral that serves many functions in the body and delivers a host of benefits. In fact, it serves as a cofactor for over 600 enzymes [1]. Most importantly, those include enzymes that are crucial for DNA and protein synthesis, energy production, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Unfortunately, most people do not consume enough of this mineral with diet alone because of modern processing and refining methods, which have depleted modern foods of this mineral.

As a result, researchers report that around 48% of the US population consumes less than the recommended daily magnesium with food [2].

Therefore, supplementing with magnesium has a variety of benefits for physical health and mental well-being [3]. It helps regulate blood pressure, maintains heart health, bone health, and may even have a positive impact on diabetes, depression, migraines, and anxiety.

For example, studies show that magnesium is required for the activation of another important micronutrient - vitamin D3 [4]. On the other hand, vitamin D3 is important for better absorption of calcium.

Therefore, having adequate magnesium levels in your body is essential for better absorption of calcium as well, despite the antagonism between the two and their poor absorption when taken at the same time [5].

Magnesium is also capable of reducing the excitability of the cardiac muscle, and it is currently used as a medication to manage some forms of ventricular arrhythmias, especially in patients with electrolyte imbalance [6]. Not to mention that magnesium supplementation can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients [7].

Magnesium is essential for good sleep as well. Studies show that magnesium supplementation helps improve sleep even in individuals who are not magnesium deficient [8].

One of magnesium's latest and most researched aspects is its effect on stress and mood. In fact, a meta-analysis of 58 studies reveals that magnesium supplementation is associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety and less depressive mood [9]

According to the research, magnesium helps to relax nerve cells and control hormones related to stress which may be why it has been found to be so effective at reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

Some of the most absorbable forms of magnesium are its organic salts, such as magnesium bisglycinate.

 

 

 

What are the benefits of ashwagandha?

 

 

Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, is an herb from India with a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine [10]

The name ashwagandha comes from Sanskrit and means "horse smell," which refers to the specific smell of the herb's roots and their potential to increase a person's strength and resilience.

Ashwagandha has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to boost energy and lessen pain, inflammation, and anxiety. According to the evidence, the main bioactive molecules that carry the medicinal properties of the shrub are steroidal lactones called withanolides [11].

Ashwagandha is regarded as an adaptogen, which is a term for substances and plant extracts that improve the body's capacity to fend off the negative effects of stress and support or restore its homeostasis. The plant is also known for its calming effects and has been used in anxiety, stress, insomnia, fatigue, and other conditions. 

One of the most prominent benefits of ashwagandha is its ability to reduce levels of stress hormones in the body and improve overall well-being. According to one study, Ashwagandha supplementation for 60 days reduced cortisol levels by 27.9% in chronically stressed individuals [12].

That's likely due to its ability to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a central role in the stress response by producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. 

As a result of its effects on the HPA axis, ashwagandha may also help with the following:

  • stress and stress-related disorders
  • blood sugar levels
  • sleep quality
  • physical performance
  • recovery after exercise
  • testosterone levels in men

Despite its numerous benefits, keep in mind that ashwagandha may also lead to some adverse reactions. Side effects of ashwagandha are rare but may include nausea or stomach problems, including diarrhea and vomiting.

 

 

 

Magnesium or ashwagandha? Which one should you take?

 

Deciding between magnesium or ashwagandha supplements can be challenging when trying to address a specific health concern.

Both have been found to reduce stress and improve sleep. However, they do so in different ways. 

Magnesium acts as a relaxant on the nervous system by blocking the activity of calcium at specific receptors involved in excitation called NMDA [13]

Through this mechanism, magnesium can help you relax both your mind and your muscles. Therefore, supplementation can help reduce tension and help you fall asleep faster. Magnesium is a perfect choice if you have trouble falling asleep.

On the other hand, ashwagandha can help with your sleep quality and lower your chance of waking up in the middle of the night. 

That's because it helps balance the function of your endocrine system and especially its response to stress. It can help regulate cortisol levels which correlate with your sleep quality [14].

Furthermore, ashwagandha also interacts with the neurotransmitters in your brain, which help induce relaxation, such as GABA [15]. This also helps improve sleep quality and quantity.

Ultimately, it is best to recommend either of these supplements based on individual needs and preferences. 

Their benefits may sound similar at first, but there are particular nuances to those benefits that only one or the other may provide. On the other hand, you may also take them together for maximum effect.

 

 

 

Ashwagandha and magnesium interactions: can you take magnesium and ashwagandha together?

 

Taking magnesium supplements with ashwagandha is generally safe as they do not interact with each other. Moreover, combining them may provide great health benefits as they complement each other. 

For example, when taken in combination, these two supplements may add to each other's potent stress-reducing and anti-anxiety effects.

Ashwagandha is well known for its stress-relieving and anti-anxiety effects. Research reveals that persons with chronic mental stress who took 300 mg ashwagandha a day experienced a 44% reduction in stress and anxiety as assessed by a questionnaire, compared to just 5% for placebo [16].

In another study, patients with diagnosed anxiety (mostly generalized anxiety disorder) who took 250 mg twice daily for six weeks had much lower experiences and significantly fewer anxiety-related symptoms on the HAMA rating scale compared to placebo [17].

Magnesium also has potent anti-stress and anxiolytic effects. A systematic review of 18 studies shows that magnesium supplementation can also help improve indices of subjective anxiety in both men and women [18].

The combination of magnesium, which induces relaxation through the NMDA receptors, and ashwagandha, which activates the GABA receptors, will be able to ease up and unwind much better. 

The time it takes for magnesium to work for anxiety can vary a lot from one individual to another, but its effect on stress can be felt within a few hours. Yet, for optimal results, magnesium should be taken regularly for several weeks or longer.

It's important to note that not every type of magnesium can exert these effects on the brain, and some magnesium salts are too big to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

One of the few magnesium supplements that have better absorption, and the molecule is small enough to pass the barrier, is magnesium bisglycinate chelate.

Magnesium bisglycinate chelate also has a much lower chance to cause any side effects such as diarrhea.

It's important to note that you should consult a medical doctor before supplementing with magnesium or ashwagandha if you are taking any medication or if you suffer from a disease. 

But in general, ashwagandha can be taken in combination with antidepressants or other medications without adverse effects due to its low level of toxicity.

For maximum benefits, also make sure to select an UDAF-certified organic, full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract that has all its natural properties well-preserved. 

 

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplement.

 

 

Dimitar Marinov
Senior Product Researcher MD, PhD, Assistant Professor
Dr. Marinov is a licenced physician and scientist with years of experience in clinical and preventive medicine, medical research, nutrition and dietetics. His research is focused primarily on nutrition and physical activity as preventive measures to improve and preserve human health. He is passionate about creating evidence-based content about various medical topics and takes great care in referencing every statement with high-quality evidence.
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