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Is this cult-beloved magnesium supplement the answer to your anxiety and sleep issues?


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Every so often, a wellness product bursts into the zeitgeist and suddenly, everyone you know is talking about it. Much like unicorn toast and Bulletproof coffee, in some circles (including my own), the Natural Vitality Calm Powder is just that. The not-so-well-kept secret is one that many women rely on as a part of their anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia arsenal.

Take Los Angeles-based reiki healer Morgan Marling, a self-proclaimed Natural Vitality devotee: “Calm powder works wonders,” she tells me. “During a challenging period of my life, I took it every night to quell my nerves and get to sleep.”

In today’s anxious world, a friendly recommendation could be all you need before hastily clicking add to cart—but I wasn’t immediately sold.

In today’s anxious world, a friendly recommendation could be all you need before hastily clicking add to cart—but I wasn’t immediately sold. What’s in this powder, exactly? The original version lists just one ingredient: ionic magnesium citrate. Aha! Magnesium is currently the it-girl of supplements. And for good reason: The mineral’s purported benefits are myriad—it’s great for bone and heart health, the alleviation of muscle pain, improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and better digestion.

According to Andreas E. Koch, the vice president of marketing at Natural Vitality, the majority of Americans are getting less than the recommended amount of magnesium daily. One reason for this? “Stress depletes magnesium,” he says—which, in turn, can make you feel more stressed out. (Studies back this up.) 

Photo: Instagram/naturalvitalityofficial

Some proponents of the product, like my friend Morgan, also take Natural Vitality before bed in order to catch quality zzz’s. The catch? Parsley Health nutritionist Adrienne Dowd, RD, argues that the type of magnesium used in Natural Vitality’s Calm product is not actually best for either purpose (anxiety or sleep). “Magnesium citrate and carbonate are more likely to produce a laxative effect,” she tells me, citing magnesium glycinate as a better choice for battling stress or sleeplessness.

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, RD, essentially agrees with Dowd. “[Your friends’ claims] could be due to the placebo effect,” she says. But she concedes that the product could be  valuable as a means for balancing magnesium deficiencies regardless.

As a chronic insomniac for whom nothing works, I am shocked when Calmful Sleep knocks me out.

Natural Vitality recently released  a new product called Calmful Sleep, which does includes magnesium glycinate, as well as Suntheanine (a patented form of the amino acid L-theanine), GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter with a proven relaxing effect), and melatonin. “L-theanine is a compound found in green tea that has been found to have the ability to help you de-stress,” Glassman explains. “Melatonin doesn’t put you to sleep, but it can help your body regulate its natural sleep/wake cycles.”

As a chronic insomniac for whom nothing works, I am shocked when Calmful Sleep knocks me out. When I ask Koch if it can be taken safely on a regular basis, he hedges by encouraging moderation. Dowd agrees and cautions that some of Calmful Sleep’s ingredients can interfere with anti-depressants and other medications—it’s therefore advisable to speak to a doctor before adding it into your regimen.

Now that I’ve tried both Natural Calm and Calmful Sleep—coupled with the expert caveats provided above, of course—I can honestly say I’ve joined the ranks of those who swear by the latter for ah-mazing sleep. Magnesium (glycinate) for the win.

Magnesium is cool, right? Geek out with this deep dive into the mineral’s various types. Plus, you might be taking your melatonin supplements the wrong way—find out how to fix the issue before it ruins your sleep. 

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