This Anti-Anxiety Supplement Has Been a Best Seller for 9 Years—Here's Why

Original Illustration by Kimmie Perl

In the world of supplements, health, and doing good for your body, magnesium is a major buzzword. Perhaps it's gained a lot of traction because of a best-selling supplement nine years running: Natural Calm ($25). Touted as an "anti-stress drink," the supplement is usually consumed by users to combat anxiety. But in addition to easing your mind, magnesium is essential for good physical health, too.

"Perhaps magnesium is such a special and 'trending' mineral because, despite the fact that it is so commonly deficient in American adults, it is used by just about every organ and cell in your body," says Dirty Lemon's in-house naturopath, Laurie Brodsky. "Our ATP energy molecules require magnesium to function—that's just about as critical and essential as it gets. When you think back to science class with chlorophyll (the green pigment in all our delicious plant-based diets) and photosynthesis, they both require magnesium, meaning to get the most out of our plant-based diets, they must be packed with magnesium and magnesium-rich foods."

But considering the ease of ordering takeout from Seamless or chowing down on pizza after a long day at work, we don't always indulge in magnesium-heavy foods like almonds, bananas, tofu, flax, oatmeal, and broccoli. That's why supplementing our diets with Natural Calm (and Dirty Lemon's newest beverage, Sleep,) is an easy fix. The latter is especially great for those of us plagued with insomnia—sipping on it just two hours before your planned bedtime with help knock you out and keep you in a restful slumber so you wake up feeling more refreshed the next morning.

Lorna Jane

In addition to aiding with sleep and serenity, magnesium has a bevy of other health benefits. Says Brodsky, "Magnesium can be used to treat over twenty different health concerns, ranging from fatigue to insomnia, muscle spasm, hypertension, detoxification, and a myriad of others."

A study of seven prospective trials in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even found that daily magnesium intake of 100 milligrams per day reduced the participants' risk of stroke by 8%. A small percentage, sure, but a notable stride nonetheless.

But how much is too much? The recommended daily amount is 100 milligrams per day to be taken in separate doses. Says Brodsky, "If you ingest too much magnesium at once, it can in some cases cause the muscles throughout the digestive tract to relax too much and thus trigger a laxative effect. This is much less common to occur when magnesium is bound to glycine as a chelate." (Dirty Lemon's sleep beverage is fortified with glycine, an amino acid that helps with magnesium absorption and thus less likelihood of laxation).

So are you a candidate for magnesium? A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the majority of Americans at all ages ingested less magnesium from food than their respective estimated average requirements, meaning your levels are likely low. Those especially likely to have a magnesium deficiency are people with gastrointestinal issues, chronic drinkers, those with type 2 diabetics, and older adult Americans. Before taking a supplement, though, speak with a doctor to ensure you're taking proper precautions for your personal needs.

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