There are different forms of magnesium supplements in the marketplace that can be taken to address a magnesium deficiency which can cause serious health issues. What are the best forms to take?
While magnesium is a key nutrient, boasting the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, you might not have enough of it even through dietary intake alone. This is why many people boost levels with supplements.
Unfortunately, many do not fully understand which of the different forms is suitable for them as not all forms are easily absorbable.
Always consult your doctor to discuss a dietary supplement regimen, but this guide will be a helpful tool for you to understand the various forms of magnesium supplements available and how they support health.
Table of Contents
Why is Magnesium Important?
Magnesium plays an important role in proper body functioning and is an essential element for over 300 enzymatic metabolic processes. Without it, many enzymes in the body cannot function properly.
- protein synthesis
- brain function
- muscle contraction and nerve function
- blood sugar control
- regulation of blood pressure
- energy production
- bone development
- calcium and potassium transport
Bone contains about half of the body’s magnesium while blood contains a small quantity.
Magnesium is necessary for the formation of bone and teeth and for normal nerve and muscle function and is also related to the metabolism of calcium and potassium (James L Lewis III 2022)
It is easy to see that a deficiency of magnesium will affect proper functioning of processes that depend on their presence in certain optimal levels for human health (Schwalberg & Genius 2017)
Low levels of magnesium have been associated with certain chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes mellitus.
This also includes hypertension, cardiovascular disease, migraine headaches, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (Gröber, Schmidt & Kisters 2015)
While nuts, seeds, vegetables, legumes, and green vegetables are rich in magnesium, depending on your intake, they may not provide sufficient quantities for human health. Magnesium supplements can provide the shortfall.
Magnesium as a Dietary Supplement
Supplements may ensure that you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients or help promote optimal health and performance if you do not consume a variety of foods.
However, keep in mind that dietary supplements, magnesium included are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure disease.
Usually, people hesitate to use magnesium supplements due to their hard effects on the stomach and digestive system which is why the more readily bioavailable and absorbable forms are best.
There are different forms of magnesium available in dietary supplements, and the popular ones that are easily absorbed are listed below:
- Magnesium Citrate
- Magnesium Chloride
- Magnesium Lactate
- Magnesium Malate
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Magnesium Orotate
Magnesium Taurate – There is ongoing research that demonstrate that magnesium taurate is easily absorbed, and that it shows potential for managing high blood sugar and high blood pressure.
You should not use this supplement to treat cardiovascular disease. Consult your doctor for more information
Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), is more frequently used dissolved in water to treat stress and sore muscles. While little evidence supports this, some people insist of its soothing effect when used.
Recommended Daily Dose of Magnesium
According to the US National Institutes of Health, Dietary Supplements – Magnesium the average recommended daily dose of magnesium varies by age. Adults require
- Men 400–420 mg
- Women 310–320 mg
However, certain forms or excessive doses may cause mild symptoms like diarrhea or upset stomach.
Magnesium supplements are generally considered safe for most people. Once your body level hits the optimal level, it will begin to excrete any excess in your urine.
Always check the product label to ensure you are taking the right dose, because, after all, it is pointless to pay for what you invariably flush down the toilet!! .
Magnesium is available in multivitamin-mineral supplements and other dietary supplements. Forms of magnesium in dietary supplements that are more easily absorbed by the body are magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium chloride.
Magnesium is also included in some laxatives and some products for treating heartburn and indigestion.
How to Choose a Magnesium Supplement
Consider the following criteria before choosing a magnesium supplement
- Amount of magnesium you are currently getting from daily diet
- How much additional magnesium do you need?
- Do you need an oral or topical form?
Natural Sources of Magnesium
Magnesium is found naturally in many foods and is also added to some common fortified foods you buy. You can get recommended amounts of magnesium by eating a variety of foods. These include:
- Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Milk, yogurt, and other milk products
Magnesium Deficiency and Symptoms
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.
The following groups of people are more likely than others to get too little magnesium:
- People with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease)
- People with type 2 diabetes
- People with long-term alcoholism
- Older people
Which Forms of Magnesium are Best Absorbed?
1. Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is a combination of magnesium and citric acid. Citric acid is an organic acid that gives food a citrus and acidic flavor. Usually, it is found in tart fruits like lemon, orange, and lime.
Magnesium citrate is one of the more easily absorbed magnesium supplements and your body will react abnormally after using this supplement.
It absorbs very easily in your digestive tract and body fluids. It is mainly used to raise magnesium levels and is helpful in the treatment of constipation.
2. Magnesium Chloride
Chloride is an unstable element that makes stable salts when combined with elements like sodium and magnesium. It is very soluble.
Magnesium chloride is used to treat low levels of magnesium in the blood, and also helps with heartburn, indigestion, and constipation.
It available in the form of capsules, soluble powder, and sprays and may be used as a muscle spray to relieve muscle soreness or pain. This will not boost magnesium levels in the body.
3. Magnesium Lactate
Lactic acid is produced in muscles and red blood cells. Our body releases lactic acid when oxygen is deficient. Moreover, lactic acid is also used to fortify foods and beverages.
The combination of magnesium and lactic acid is very gentle. It causes no harm to the digestive tract and is an extremely mild supplement. It is very light and highly soluble. Even its large dosage is not hazardous.
It may be more suitable for those who do not tolerate other forms or need to take especially large doses. Consult your doctor.
4. Magnesium Malate
Malic acid is usually found in fruits like apples, grapes, and watermelons. It is a highly used acid in food and beverages.
Magnesium malate is one of the best combinations your body can absorb, and it is easily tolerated by the digestive system.
Along with that, people who face improper bowel movements or constipation issues should make magnesium malate supplements a part of their diet.
Magnesium malate can also be used to help promote regular bowel movements may also act as a natural antacid, to treat heartburn and relieve stomach upset.
5. Magnesium L-Threonate
Magnesium L-threonate can quickly increase magnesium levels in the brain and has shown the potential to improve cognitive function although research is still preliminary, and mainly involves the use of animal subjects.
6. Which Forms of Magnesium are Best Absorbed? Check Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium glycinate has been shown to have a variety of benefits, including helping to
- promote digestion and relieve constipation
- relieve anxiety
- promote bone health, joints and teeth
- metabolize nutrients
- maintain normal heart muscle function
- promote sleep
- reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- help reduce pain
7. Magnesium Orotate
Magnesium orotate is not the best choice as a magnesium supplement and despite initial evidence from studies of a benefit for people with heart disease, there is a safety concern about the high dosage used for that purpose.
Until more is known about the potential benefits and risks, it appears best to hold off using magnesium orotate (Cooperman 2017). Furthermore, this form of magnesium is quite expensive.
Conclusion – Different Forms of Magnesium Supplements
There are different forms of magnesium supplements, so just picking up any type “off the shelf” may not produce the desired results.
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps your body function properly, especially as it pertains to your muscular system, bones, and nervous system.
You can get most of your recommended amount of magnesium from your daily diet by including a variety of green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils, and seeds and nuts as often as possible.
Only if you have a shortfall should you use magnesium supplements.
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Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Cairo). 2017;2017:4179326. doi: 10.1155/2017/4179326. Epub 2017 Sep 28. PMID: 29093983; PMCID: PMC5637834.
Gröber U, Schmidt J, Kisters K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 2015 Sep 23;7(9):8199-226. doi: 10.3390/nu7095388. PMID: 26404370; PMCID: PMC4586582.
James L Lewis III 2022 Overview of Magnesium’s Role in the Body . Merck Manuals. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-balance/overview-of-magnesiums-role-in-the-body?query=magnesium
US National Institutes of Health, Dietary Supplements https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/
Cooperman T (2017) What is the benefit of magnesium orotate compared to other forms of magnesium? https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/what-is-the-benefit-of-magnesium-orotate-compared-to-other-forms-of-magnesium/magnesium-orotate/
10 Interesting Types of Magnesium (and What to Use Each For). (2022, July 11). Retrieved January 12, 2023, from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-types#8.-Magnesium-sulfate
Neuroprotective effects of magnesium L-threonate in a hypoxic zebrafish model – PubMed pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32590943/
Treatment Of Magnesium-L-Threonate Elevates The Magnesium Level In The Cerebrospinal Fluid And Attenuates Motor Deficits And Dopamine Neuron Loss In A Mouse Model Of Parkinson’s disease – PMC ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6857673/