Magnesium is a mineral workhorse—needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It wears many hats— playing a role in nerve and muscle function, supporting the immune system, keeping our heartbeats steady, and our bones strong. It also adjusts our blood glucose levels, helps produce energy and protein, and is required to synthesize DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. We would do well to ensure that we have adequate amount, especially since stress can reduce our levels. And low levels can create more stress, a vicious cycle.

Magnesium supplements are a bit controversial in the benzo withdrawal community. Some people swear that they help them stay a bit more calm and sleep better while others complain that magnesium supplements cause an increase in withdrawal symptoms, especially anxiety and panic. (The increase in withdrawal symptoms may be due to magnesium activating GABA A.)

There are many magnesium supplements to choose from, and each has its merits. There is magnesium citrate (very popular as a supplement and easily absorbed), magnesium chloride (used to treat heartburn, constipation, and sore muscles), magnesium lactate (which is thought to perhaps help with anxiety and is easy on the digestive tract), magnesium malate (easily absorbed and less laxative effect), magnesium taurate (help with high blood sugar and blood pressure), magnesium L-threonate (thought to help brain function), magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), magnesium glycerinate (thought to help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia), magnesium orotate (boots heart function), and magnesium oxide (found in Milk Of Magnesia and not easily absorbed to increase magnesium levels).

Should you take a magnesium supplement? That answer is totally up to you. If you can take one without an increase in symptoms, that’s wonderful. (Just don’t take more than the recommended daily allowance as too much magnesium can be harmful.) But what if you’ve tried and had a bad reaction, or what if you don’t want to risk trying a supplement?  Here are some foods that are high in magnesium. (An adult male over the age of thirty needs 420 mg, and a woman needs 320 mg.)

Pumpkin seeds roasted, one ounce, 156 mg, 37% of daily total
Swiss Chard, one cup, cooked, 151 mg, 36 % of daily total
Chia seeds, one ounce, 111 mg, 26% of daily total
Almonds, dry roasted, one ounce, 80 mg, 19% of daily total
Spinach, boiled, 1/2 cup, 78 mg, 19% of daily total
Peanuts, oil roasted, 1/4 cup, 63 mg, 15% of daily total
Black beans, cooked, 1/2 cup, 60 mg, 14% of daily total
Edamame, shelled, cooked, 1/2 cup, 50 mg, 12% of daily total
Baked potato, with skin, 3.5 oz, 43 mg, 10% of daily total
Brown rice, cooked, 1/2 cup, 42 mg, 10% of daily total
Avocado, cubed, 1/2 cup, 22 mgs, 5% of daily total

Magnesium is magic! We need it for so many processes in our bodies, and the stress from benzo withdrawal may be lowering our levels, so it’s wise to include some magnesium rich foods in our daily diet, even if you are able to tolerate a supplement.