Magnesium is one of the most common minerals in the body; however, due to the typical Western diet and the fact that our soil has been depleted of natural minerals, most of us don’t get enough to keep our bodies working at their best. In fact, one study found that two-thirds of people in the Western hemisphere don’t get enough magnesium. Let’s dig into this vital mineral to discover the benefits and differences between all the different types of magnesium available.
None of this is meant to be taken as direct medical advice. Always consult with your general practitioner before starting any new supplements.
Benefits of Magnesium
Magnesium plays a role in over 300 essential metabolic reactions, including:
- Nervous system health (helps you relax and regulates neurotransmitters)
- Mitochondrial health (energy levels)
- Sleep quality
- Intestinal function (too little magnesium leads to constipation)
- Bone health (it works with calcium and vitamin D to promote bone health)
- Heart & blood vessel health
- maintains blood pressure
- helps the heart muscle function better
- it’s a natural blood thinner (thus protecting against heart attacks and strokes)
- lowers cholesterol
- enhances circulation
- Glucose metabolism (helps prevent diabetes)
- Kidney health (reverses kidney stone formation)
While you should eat magnesium-rich foods such as beans, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, grains, nettle tea, and chocolate, these same foods also include other nutrients which bind the minerals so our bodies can’t absorb the magnesium. This means that even if you eat a healthy diet of whole, real foods, you may have a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
So, how do you know if you need more magnesium in your diet? There are many symptoms, but they are often put down to something else. They include:
- Muscle soreness or spasms
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Poor short-term memory
- Fatigue or unusual tiredness
- Sensitivity to noise
- Mental disturbances
- Anxiety, depression, or restlessness
- High levels of stress
- Heart “flutters” or palpitations
- Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
- Insulin resistance
- Coldness in extremities
- Allergies and sensitivities
- Lack of appetite
- Back pain
- Thyroid issues
- Infertility or PMS
- Kidney stones
- Body odor
- Poor coordination
- Frequent cavities or poor dental health
- Gut disorders
How many types of magnesium are there?
Almost every week, I get questions from my readers asking about what type of magnesium is the best to take and why (hence, this post 😊). Before we tackle that question, let’s look at the different types of magnesium.
Magnesium glycinate is formed from magnesium and the amino acid glycine. Our bodies use this amino acid in protein construction, and it naturally occurs in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, dairy, and legumes. Animal studies suggest glycine alone can improve sleep and treat inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. This form of magnesium is easily absorbed and has calming properties, so it is helpful with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Because it is well-tolerated by most people and has minimal side effects, it is a good option for those requiring large amounts of magnesium or who don’t tolerate other forms well.
This type of magnesium is a compound mixture of magnesium and malic acid. Malic acid is found in fruit and wine. It has a sour taste and is added to bland food. Studies show magnesium malate is easily and quickly absorbed by the body. It also has a lesser laxative effect than other forms of magnesium, which is helpful in some cases. This form of magnesium is used to treat fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. My favorite form of this magnesium is Mag SRT.
Magnesium lactate is the salt formed when magnesium binds with lactic acid. Lactic acid is naturally produced by your muscle and blood cells and is manufactured as a preservative and flavoring agent. Magnesium lactate absorbs easily and is gentler on the digestive tract than other types, so it may be suitable for those who need large doses or don’t tolerate other forms. Studies suggest that this form helps treat stress and anxiety.
Magnesium citrate is magnesium bound with citric acid. Citric acid is what gives citrus fruits their tart flavor. Magnesium citrate is a popular form of magnesium and is often found as an ingredient in supplements because it is easier for your body to absorb than other forms. However, magnesium citrate is also used by doctors to treat constipation, which means that some people may experience diarrhea with this form, especially when taking larger doses or when first starting to take it. Supplements using this form of magnesium often taut it as being beneficial in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Magnesium chloride
Magnesium chloride is a magnesium salt that includes chlorine, an unstable element that binds well with other elements. It absorbs easily in the digestive system, though like other forms of magnesium, it can cause digestive side effects. This form is often found in topical magnesium oils, lotions, and ointments, as it is also well-absorbed through the skin. Trace Minerals has a great magnesium chloride.
You likely know of this form of magnesium as Epsom salt. It’s formed by combining magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Magnesium sulfate can be ingested for constipation or stomach upset, though its taste isn’t pleasant. Due to the taste, it’s most often used in a warm bath to relieve stress and soothe sore, achy muscles. You can also find it in bath products like lotion or body oil.
- Magnesium oxide
Magnesium oxide is a salt formed from magnesium and oxygen. Doctors often use This form of magnesium to treat constipation, heartburn, or indigestion. Because it isn’t easily absorbed by the body, it’s typically not used for magnesium deficiency. Some people also use it to prevent and treat migraines. I love Evening Mag for magnesium oxide. I buy it HERE, just search “evening”.
This form of magnesium is combined with the amino acid taurine. Studies found that magnesium taurate may lower blood pressure and protect the cardiovascular system. Other research suggests that both taurine and magnesium are beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels.
What Type of Magnesium is Best?
The answer is…it depends on why you are taking it and how well you tolerate the different types. If you have tried magnesium supplements before, but they caused digestion issues, you might want to try magnesium malate, glycinate, or taurate. I recommend THIS brand in those cases because these supplements combine three gentle forms of magnesium—malate, orotate, and taurate. They don’t use magnesium citrate in this formula, which often causes stomach upset and diarrhea in many people. I use this company’s supplements for me and my family because they are super clean. They never add fillers, preservatives, additives, or common allergens, and they create their formulas in small batches, so the quality is easy to control.
If most of your magnesium deficiency symptoms include leg cramps at night and insomnia, try THIS supplement. It absorbs quickly and easily and is formulated with magnesium glycinate. I love this brand and use it myself because they use the highest-quality ingredients and third-party testing to ensure its effectiveness.
I love taking this Morning Magnesium because it is a blend of three different forms of magnesium to help support your day.
What are the Recommended Daily Intake Amounts for Magnesium?
The average recommended daily amount of magnesium for adults is 320 mg for females and 420 mg. for males.
If you want to find a place that carries all of these forms of magnesium from a variety of professional-grade supplement companies, I highly recommend opening a free account at Fullscript. I buy most of my supplements there because they have a huge selection, the highest quality, and the best prices! Open a free account and get a 10% discount HERE.