Did you know there are several different types of magnesium that are beneficial for different things?
Magnesium is one of the most essential nutrients. It’s a catalyst for brain biochemistry and impacts our neuronal membrane. It helps give us energy! And it helps other vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin d work better. It’s a catalyst and precursor for 300-600 biochemical reactions that happens each second inside of our cells. According to recent research, a deficiency in this mineral literally impacts longevity. Magnesium deficiency is also a principal driver in cardiovascular disease. Most people today are deficient in the critical nutrient, and we need to get more from food and supplements combined. Having optimal saturation on a daily basis can help us from getting nutrient deficiencies and prevent some chronic diseases down the road. So you may think that going to your local Walgreens or CVS for a magnesium would be a good option? I am hear to caution that you might be wasting your money… The fact is, most retail brands don’t have quality absorbed minerals in their products, they have the cheapest of the cheap, mainly magnesium oxide and magnesium carbonates. In this list below I am going to give you a list of quality magnesium forms to look for the next time you go supplement shopping.
BIOAVAILABILITY MATTERS WITH MAGNESIUM
According to the bioavailable chart below, “If one was to ingest the commonly recommended (albeit modest) adult dosage of 300-400 mg magnesium per day in a poorly absorbed form, it could equate to a usable dosage of only 12-16 mg.” Which is barely anything! Some studies suggest that magnesium is most effective when contained in the intestine for a minimum of 12 hours. If magnesium was going through the system faster (ie. in the form of diarrhea), you’re not getting the full benefits of the supplement you’re taking.
One key word to know is “bioavailability”, which means how well the supplement is absorbed by the body. If the supplement you’re taking is not very bioavailable, it’s not being metabolized and you’re probably not reaping the benefits. As we age and our metabolism slows, it can be even more important to focus on bioavailability, as vitamins can become more difficult to absorb. This is why choosing high quality supplements is so important.
This type of magnesium is one of the most effective at boosting low levels of magnesium quickly, without causing digestive problems or diarrhea. It is ideal for those who cannot tolerate the laxative effects of citrate or oxide and need a more well absorbed form. Because most patients are recommended to take around 400mg daily from supplement and get the rest of magnesium from food, it’s the best way to make sure you’re getting a higher amount absorbed and not losing it all in the toilet! Glycine, an amino acid to which the Magnesium is bonded, supports cognitive function and calms neural functions. Therefore patients find this form helps with reducing inflammation, sleep, and anxiety, making magnesium glycinate great for those with headaches, and migraines. In some newer studies, magnesium glycinate has also been shown to cross the blood brain barrier like magnesium-threonate.
Final Thought: Magnesium glycinate is good for anxiety, sleep, migraines, and if you have a sensitive stomach.
This form of the trace element combines magnesium with malic acid, a substance found naturally in fruits that is sometimes also used as a food additive. One animal-based study found that magnesium malate was the most bioavailable form of the mineral, which means these supplements may be able to offer the most health benefits (Uysal, 2019). But more work needs to be done to see if that holds true in humans.
Magnesium malate is often recommended for people with fibromyalgia and muscle pain as a treatment for the fatigue and stiffness characteristic of this chronic illness.
Recommended Brand: Reacted Magnesium again as it main magnesium is Magnesium Malate.
This combination of magnesium and the amino acid taurine may be beneficial for those seeking the heart health-boosting benefits of the essential mineral. Taurine’s health benefits reportedly parallel some of those of magnesium, so you’re potentially getting two ingredients that impact cardiovascular health (McCarty, 1996). Many studies that shape what we know about blood pressure and low levels of magnesium are done in rats, not people. These studies indicate that magnesium deficiency contributes to high blood pressure, which may up the odds of developing heart disease (Laurant, 1999). So more research needs to be done on whether this holds true in humans, but a meta-analysis of studies on magnesium found that supplements of this important mineral can successfully lower blood pressure (Zhang, 2016).
It’s not just your heart that may benefit from magnesium supplementation with this specific type, either. This form of magnesium has also been found to help slow or prevent the onset of cataracts (Agarwal, 2013).
Recommended Brand: Magnesium Taurate from Ecological Formulas.
A newer type of magnesium, this is one of the only forms of magnesium that has been studied to penetrate the blood brain barrier directly, therefore raising magnesium levels in the brain. In studies, it played a positive role with improving Alzheimer’s and other cognitive issues. Developed by MIT grads, Magtein promotes improvement of learning abilities, memory, and cognitive function. It has also been reported to alleviate brain fog and vestibular migraines. This type also doesn’t contain laxative properties that you would find with citrate or oxide. The downside? It’s expensive and fairly new so there’s not as much known about it. Threonate is a good one to supplement in addition to another form of magnesium so you’re saving money, and reaping benefits from both.
MAGNESIUM SULFATE AND MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE
You might be more familiar with epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate. Through research and discussion with other patients, it seems as if magnesium chloride is like “Epsom salt on steroids”. It appears to have better absorption and cellular penetration, as well as lower tissue toxicity. This form of magnesium is wonderful for topical applications, especially if you’d like to supplement your oral intake. This would include adding it to a bath, foot soak, or applied topically in a lotion or spray form. Concentration of the solution, length of time it is in contact with the skin, and area it is applied all affect magnesium chloride’s efficacy. Some find that if they do a soak for 20-30 minutes or apply to their feet before bed it helps to calm the body and promote a deeper sleep.
Recommended Brand: Find a good brand with good reviews and good quality standards online.
One of the most popular and well-studied forms of magnesium, this bonds to citric acid, making it more absorbable than some other forms like oxide. If you google “magnesium citrate”, you’ll notice it’s promoted to relieve constipation – which is great (sometimes)! However, if you’re taking this at the 400+mg recommended amounts each day, you could be spending long mornings on the toilet. This means you’re probably not getting many benefits out of it in the end. Citrate is one of those “proceed with caution” items. If you can tolerate it – great! If you can’t, look into malate, glycinate, or threonate. This type of magnesium mixes well with liquids and could be an option for those who cannot tolerate pills. The blend I recommend routinely is a blend of of malate, glycinate, and little citrate to maximize elemental magnesium and also reap the benefits of bioavailability.
Recommended Dose: The dose depends on what you are using this for. If you are needing more specific dosing for constipation aim for a straight forward mag citrate in 250-350mg daily dose. If you are looking for a just a little citrate, try my most recommended blend-Reacted Magnesium Ortho Molecular Products which features a blend of malate, glycinate, and small concentration of mag citrate.
Magnesium oxide is only 4 percent bioavailable, which means the rate and extent to which the active constituent is absorbed and reaches circulation in the body is hardly worth the trouble. In my opinion, “Just Say No.” This material can also cause diarrhea, so if you need that it could be a cheap route to go..
- Uysal N, Kizildag S, Yuce Z, Guvendi G, Kandis S, Koc B, Karakilic A, Camsari UM, Ates M. Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best? Biol Trace Elem Res. 2019 Jan;187(1):128-136. doi: 10.1007/s12011-018-1351-9. Epub 2018 Apr 21. PMID: 29679349.
- Schuette SA, Lashner BA, Janghorbani M. Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1994 Sep-Oct;18(5):430-5. doi: 10.1177/0148607194018005430. PMID: 7815675.
- Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research In Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161–1169. Retrieved from http://www.jmsjournal.net/
- Ghabriel MN, Vink R. Magnesium transport across the blood-brain barriers. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507259/
- Agarwal, R., Iezhitsa, I. N., Agarwal, P., & Spasov, A. A. (2013). Mechanisms of cataractogenesis in the presence of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium Research, 26(1), 2–8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2013.0336, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23708888
- McCarty MF. Complementary vascular-protective actions of magnesium and taurine: a rationale for magnesium taurate. Medical Hypotheses. 1996 Feb;46(2):89-100. DOI: 10.1016/s0306-9877(96)90007-9.
- Baaij, J. H. F. D., Hoenderop, J. G. J., & Bindels, R. J. M. (2015). Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. Physiological Reviews, 95(1), 1–46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25540137
- Agarwal R, Iezhitsa IN, Agarwal P, Spasov AA. Mechanisms of cataractogenesis in the presence of magnesium deficiency. Magnes Res. 2013 Jan-Feb;26(1):2-8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2013.0336. PMID: 23708888.
- Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429. doi: 10.3390/nu9050429, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28445426
- Chen, Y., Lin, J., Yang, M., Xu, C.-W., Chen, B.-Z., Li, X.-J., … Chen, G. (2017). Expression and prognostic roles of magnesium-dependent phosphatase-1 in gastric cancer. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 21(11), 2617–2625. Retrieved from https://www.europeanreview.org/
- Ferreira, I., Ortigoza, A., & Moore, P. (2019). Magnesium and malic acid supplement for fibromyalgia. Medwave, 19(4). doi: 10.5867/medwave.2019.04.7632, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31150373
- Durlach J, Guiet-Bara A, Pagès N, Bac P, Bara M. Magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate: a genuine question. Magnes Res. 2005 Sep;18(3):187-92. PMID: 16259379.
- Institute of Medicine. 1997. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/5776.
- Kass, L., Weekes, J., & Carpenter, L. (2012). Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(4), 411–418. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.4, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22318649
- Laurant, P., Hayoz, D., Brunner, H. R., & Berthelot, A. (1999). Effect of Magnesium Deficiency on Blood Pressure and Mechanical Properties of Rat Carotid Artery. Hypertension, 33(5), 1105–1110. doi: 10.1161/01.hyp.33.5.1105, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.hyp.33.5.1105
- Mccarty, M. (1996). Complementary vascular-protective actions of magnesium and taurine: A rationale for magnesium taurate. Medical Hypotheses, 46(2), 89–100. doi: 10.1016/s0306-9877(96)90007-9, https://europepmc.org/article/med/8692051
- Musso, C. G. (2009). Magnesium metabolism in health and disease. International Urology and Nephrology, 41(2), 357–362. doi: 10.1007/s11255-009-9548-7, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19274487
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Reffelmann, T., Ittermann, T., Dörr, M., Völzke, H., Reinthaler, M., Petersmann, A., & Felix, S. B. (2011). Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Atherosclerosis, 219(1), 280–284. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.05.038, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21703623
- Uysal, N., Kizildag, S., Yuce, Z., Guvendi, G., Kandis, S., Koc, B., … Ates, M. (2018). Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best? Biological Trace Element Research, 187(1), 128–136. doi: 10.1007/s12011-018-1351-9, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29679349
- Walker, A. F., Marakis, G., Christie, S., & Byng, M. (2003). Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnesium Research, 16(3), 183–191. Retrieved from https://www.jle.com/fr/revues/mrh/revue.phtml
- Wienecke, E., & Nolden, C. (2016). Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschritte Der Medizin, 158(Suppl 6), 12–16. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/journal/15006
- Zhang, X., Li, Y., Del Gobbo, L. C., Rosanoff, A., Wang, J., Zhang, W., & Song, Y. (2016). Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure. Hypertension, 68(2), 324–333. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07664, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27402922