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Magnesium - Which type Should You Supplement for Maximum Benefits? (2019 Update)

Table of Contents:

Which type of Magnesium Should You Supplement for Maximum Benefits?

 

Magnesium is the fourth most common element in the earth.

It’s also the fourth most common mineral in your body - essential for the biochemical reactions of around 350 of your enzymes.

This means that you have to consume enough magnesium to keep your system working – that means your energy production, muscle movement, heartbeat, messaging in your nervous system and a lot more!

With so many functions, a magnesium deficiency can lead to many health problems. In fact, some of the health issues you may be experiencing right now (such as brain fog) could be caused by a lack of magnesium.

We strongly believe that magnesium is one of the most important supplements you can take. But supplementation presents two problems:

1) There are so many different forms of magnesium, it's confusing to know which ones are best.

2) Even worse, some manufacturers don’t even identify the type of magnesium used in their supplements.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look into why magnesium is vital for optimal health and explore the different types so that you can choose the best magnesium supplement for you.

Think you could have a magnesium deficiency? Read on to find out more!

Magnesiums Function in the Body

Magnesium is essential for preventing and managing many health conditions.

For a better idea of its importance, we've built a table summarizing just a few common conditions and the role of magnesium.

Condition Magnesium Function  Scientific Research

Insulin resistance and diabetes

Energy production and glucose control

The incidence of type 2 diabetes is higher among people with low magnesium intake.

Low levels of magnesium have been associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Magnesium supplements improve insulin sensitivity in those who are at risk of developing insulin resistance.

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Dilation and contraction of blood vessels, electrolyte control.

Magnesium supplementation can reduce blood pressure.

Cases with borderline hypertension had a magnesium deficiency and blood pressure was normalized with supplementation.

Heart disease, including cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) and ischemic heart disease (heart attack)

Neuromuscular control, lipid metabolism, electrolyte control, anti-inflammatory action.

Higher levels of magnesium were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

A higher intake of magnesium was associated with a lower risk of heart attacks.

Migraine headaches

Control of vascular tone

Magnesium supplements reduced the number of attacks and the amount of medication needed.

Intravenous magnesium may help reduce symptoms of migraines.

Depression

Neuronal transmission

Case histories of rapid recovery from major depression with higher than normal daily recommended doses of Magnesium, [1]

Alzheimer's Disease

Neuronal transmission, neuroplasticity

Magnesium levels, including in the brain, are depleted in Alzheimer’s patients.

Magnesium supplementation improves memory.

 

As you can see magnesium is...

- Essential in preventing and managing many health conditions.
- One of the most important supplements to include in your daily routine.

 

Yet many people do not get enough through their diet and supplements, leading to a variety of health problems. 

Magnesium Deficiency - Understanding the Problem

magnesium-deficiency-problems

Our bodies have complex mechanisms for absorbing, storing and excreting magnesium to keep it in balance.

The mineral is absorbed mostly in the small intestine and excretion is controlled mainly by the kidneys.

A national nutritional survey in the US (NHANES 2005-2006) reported that nearly half of all Americans consumed less magnesium than the estimated average requirement. In some age groups, this figure was over two-thirds.[2]

When your intake of magnesium is low or you suddenly need more, your body will use stores of the mineral. If you consistently consume less than you need, the stores become depleted. This leads to a deficiency.

Now that you know all of the different functions magnesium is involved in, it's easy to see why deficiency can quickly turn into a serious health problem.

Common Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms 

  • Fatigue and weakness - Feeling weak, having low energy or general fatigue are all signs of magnesium deficiency.
  • Concentration issues - Magnesium works with the enzymes inside your cells to create energy. Low levels can mean you go through brain fog day in and day out.
  • Poor sleep quality - Magnesium plays a vital role in the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for calm and relaxation. Low GABA means you can have trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Depression - Observational studies have found a low level of magnesium is sometimes associated with mental disorders such as depression.

What happens when you are Magnesium deficient?

Why has deficiency increased? 

The amount of people with a magnesium deficiency is increasing - for two reasons.

First, it’s difficult to get enough magnesium on a daily basis from food, even if you eat a healthy diet.

Second, our daily diet contains less magnesium than that of previous generations because:

  • We consume more refined and processed foods, rather than natural foods
  • Purification processes reduce the amount of magnesium available in drinking water
  • Intensive farming practices can deplete the amount of magnesium in the food we eat
  • We have more physical and emotional stress which increases the amount of magnesium we use 

Some groups of people are more likely to have a magnesium deficiency due to poorer absorption, changes in biochemical processes, greater demand or higher rates of excretion.

The groups include:

  • Older adults with gastrointestinal or kidney diseases
  • Alcohol dependents and drug addicts
  • Those taking certain medications including some antibiotics, diuretics and proton pump inhibitors
  • High-performance athletes

Why our daily diet contains less magnesium than that of previous generations

So, what are the different types of magnesium and which ones do I recommend for optimal health?

Reviewing the Types of Magnesium Supplements

Are you using the right types of magnesium supplements?

Magnesium comes in many forms like citrate, oxide, sulfate, chloride, glycinate, taurate, l-threonate, etc!

The reason why is because magnesium is an elemental mineral - a lightweight alkaline metal. In its natural state, it is always bonded to another element and in a state of oxidation. [3]

This means when used as a supplement, magnesium has to be attached to another substance. Without the bond, your body couldn’t absorb and use the magnesium. The bond also keeps the magnesium stable while in tablet form and prevents it from reacting with other minerals.

Manufacturers combine, or “chelate”, magnesium with organic substances, most often amino acids, to form salts.

In some types, the magnesium is combined with another inorganic element.

The particular substance to which the magnesium is bonded determines how much of it is absorbed by the body as well as its bioavailability – that is, how readily it is available for various biochemical processes.

Each of the different compounds also has distinct therapeutic effects in the body. That's why you see all of the different names like Magnesium L-Threonate or Magnesium Citrate.

These are all magnesium bonded to another substance so that your body can absorb it.

Now we will take a look at some of the most popular types of magnesium.

Types of Magnesium (in order of most popular):

  • Citrate
  • Oxide
  • Sulfate
  • Chloride
  • Taurate
  • L-Threonate
  • Glycinate
  • Malate
  • Orotate
  • Hydroxide
  • Carbonate

 

Magnesium Dosage Guide

These are the recommended daily allowance (RDA) or adequate magnesium dosages for men and women in the United States. 

Age Male  Female
14 - 18 years 410 mg 360 mg
19 - 30 years 400 mg 310 mg
31 - 50 years 420 mg 320 mg
51 years+ 420 mg 320 mg

It's important to note that for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding then your dosage will need to be adjusted. It's best to speak with your doctor or licensed healthcare professional for their recommendation.

One serving of our MagTech Magnesium contains a 200mg blend of L-Threonate, Glycinate and Taurate. 

Magnesium Citrate Review - Benefits and Side Effects

Magnesium Citrate is the magnesium salt of the organic substance, citric acid. This compound is commonly used in supplements.

Magnesium citrate is popular because it costs less than many other magnesium supplements and has a relatively good bioavailability of 25-30%. It mixes well with water and is easily absorbed in the digestive tract to be used by the body.

Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

Magnesium citrate has greater laxative properties than other magnesium supplements and is often used for constipation and acid indigestion. It is such a powerful laxative that users should be careful - see side effects.

 

Magnesium citrate may help people with kidney stones caused by high dietary oxalates particularly when combined with potassium citrate.




Magnesium citrate works by pulling water into the intestines which can lead to dehydration.


In some people, magnesium citrate can also affect ceruloplasmin levels which can lead to mineral deficiency.


Magnesium citrate may also cause gastrointestinal and stomach issues such as cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and gas.


Some magnesium citrate supplements contain arsenic - which should be avoided.




Magnesium citrate is not recommended due to the potential side effects of dehydration and mineral imbalance.

 

Magnesium Oxide Review – Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

Magnesium oxide is an inorganic compound containing a very high percentage of magnesium. You’ve probably heard it called Milk of Magnesia - as it’s been used as a folk remedy for generations.

Whatever your grandmother might have thought, magnesium oxide is not an efficient magnesium supplement as it can’t be easily absorbed by the body. It has a low bioavailability of only around 4%. This is often reflected in the price which is usually lower than other magnesium supplements.

Because of its low bioavailability and side effects, Milk of Magnesia or magnesium oxide is not recommended as a magnesium supplement.

    Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

    Traditionally, Milk of Magnesia is used to help symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

     

    May help relieve symptoms of constipation, regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol.




    Most of it is excreted and it tends to cause diarrhea.
    Used in liquid form for acid reflux or as a laxative but not recommended due to low bioavailability and potential side effects of diarrhea.


    Magnesium Sulfate - Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

    Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic compound of magnesium and sulfuric acid. You probably know it as Epsom Salts.

    When taken orally, magnesium sulfate has low absorption in the intestinal tract and low bioavailability.

    While Epsom Salts were traditionally used as a laxative it is not recommended for oral use. This is because it can have dramatic effects leading to severe diarrhea and dehydration.

    Benefits  Side Effects Dosage
    Epsom Salts were traditionally used to help alleviate symptoms of constipation and support the body’s natural detox systems by eliminating toxins, but it is not recommended for oral use - see side effects and dosage.

     

    When dissolved in water, some magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin. Traditional medicine and some research suggest that it can help reduce local inflammation.

     

    Soaking in a warm bath laced with magnesium sulfate before bedtime may help you relax and aid sleep.

    Stomach upsets and or diarrhea have been observed when used orally, particularly in high doses.

    Not recommended as a laxative due to side effects of diarrhea and potential dehydration.


    You can use magnesium sulfate as bath salts to relieve swelling and inflammation, as well as muscle aches and pains although magnesium chloride salts may be more effective.




    Magnesium Chloride Review - Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

    Magnesium Chloride is a naturally occurring inorganic compound. It’s usually extracted from bodies of water with a high salt content, such as the Great Salt Lake, brine or ocean water.

    Magnesium Chloride is a compound of choice for many supplement manufacturers due to its reasonably good bioavailability and the fact it is one of the most stable magnesium supplements.

    It’s also popular with customers but is becoming less so as newer compounds are coming on the market.

    Magnesium Chloride absorbs well through the skin because of its chemical properties. Currently, it is most commonly available as supersaturated Magnesium Chloride Oil.

    Benefits  Side Effects Dosage
    Magnesium chloride has a higher bioavailability than other magnesium bonds. [4]

    Because it is well absorbed through the skin, it can be an alternative if you experience excessive loose stools from oral magnesium supplements.

    Chloride ions help support healthy impulses in the nervous system which may help you feel calm - mentally and physically. They also combine with other minerals for effective muscle contraction, blood pressure, and healthy brain function.

    Chloride ions combine with hydrogen in the gut to form acid for good digestion and absorption of vitamin B12.

    Magnesium chloride may also help your body’s natural detox systems and kidney function.

    Magnesium chloride is often used to aid sleep and to support good bone health.

    Magnesium chloride salts may be used for soaking in. They are considered to be more effective than Epsom Salts for muscle pain.

    Magnesium oils and lotions are magnesium chloride either mixed with water or an oil base such as coconut oil. Both are used to help symptoms of eczema, dermatitis, acne and to ease muscle cramps.

    Stomach upset and or diarrhea may occur at high dosages.

     

    You can use magnesium chloride as a general supplement for magnesium deficiency.


    Magnesium chloride oil is available in sprays, gels, lotions and bath additives.




    Magnesium Taurate Review - Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

    Magnesium Taurate is a chelate of magnesium with the amino acid taurine. The addition of taurine in the compound increases many of the benefits of magnesium in the system.

    Benefits  Side Effects Dosage
    You may benefit from the dual action of magnesium and taurine stabilizing and improving heart function. The compound may also contribute to an increase in ATP production which protects the heart muscle.
    Magnesium and taurine may also lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting.

    Magnesium taurate may improve insulin sensitivity.

    For some people, it may also have a calming effect on the nervous system and provide relief for muscle twitches and spasms as well as anxiety. 

    Stomach upset and or diarrhea may occur at high doses.

     

     

     

     

    This could be the best supplement to choose if you have you have pre-existing heart disease or insulin resistant diabetes.

    You should take this supplement at bedtime because of its calming effect.

    No recommended dosage for magnesium taurate. For magnesium, the standard dosage is 200 - 400 mg.


    Magnesium L-Threonate Review - Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage

    This relatively new product shows great promise for brain health. It is a compound of magnesium and l-threonate, which is an organic non-amino acid.

    Magnesium l-threonate was specifically formulated for brain health. It’s the only form of magnesium that increases the amount of magnesium in the brain significantly as it has been developed to cross the blood-brain barrier more readily than other magnesium supplements.

    Studies have shown that supplementation with this compound can increase the concentration of magnesium in the brain and spinal column. It also has better bioavailability than many other magnesium supplements.

    To date, most of the benefits of magnesium l-threonate have been found in studies on rats, but recent studies on humans are showing similar promising results.[5]

    Magnesium l-threonate is a popular choice for older people who want to protect themselves against memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive decline. Animal studies have suggested that magnesium l-threonate can help restore aging neuron function and help with spatial memory.

      Benefits  Side Effects Dosage
      Magnesium l-threonate increases synapse density and improves cognition, learning, and memory. It also promotes relaxation and sleep.

      Magnesium l-threonate has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing short term memory loss caused by chronic pain.

      Magnesium l-threonate may also help with symptoms of brain disorders such as depression, anxiety, brain fog, and hyperactivity.

      A 17-year study of 1000 people who supplemented daily with Magnesium l-threonate, results showed the subjects were 37% less likely to get dementia. [6]

      Animal studies have suggested magnesium l-threonate may able to reverse cognitive loss caused by Alzheimer’s. [7]

      Supplementing with magnesium l-threonate may cause headaches, drowsiness, or a feeling of increased blood flow to the head. This usually goes away after about a week.

      Choose a supplement with magnesium l-threonate if you want to improve your overall mental health and well-being.


      No recommended dosage for magnesium l-threonate. For magnesium, the standard dosage is 200 - 400 mg.





      Magnesium Glycinate Review - Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

      Magnesium glycinate is a chelate with the amino acid glycine. Magnesium glycinate is used in many oral magnesium supplements and is often recommended for hypomagnesemia (clinically diagnosed magnesium deficiency).

      Glycine helps the compound to be absorbed quickly into the body and makes it one of the most bioavailable on the market.

      The amino acid also adds to the general effects of magnesium as it has a recognized calming action on both the brain and muscles.

      Benefits  Side Effects Dosage
      Because it is absorbed quickly and effectively, magnesium glycinate is gentle on the stomach and the least likely to cause loose stools.

      The calming and relaxing effect of both magnesium and glycine make it the best choice for chronic pain, including nerve pain as well as muscle rigidity and spasms.

      Magnesium glycinate may help with symptoms of leaky gut.

      Glycine also easily passes the blood-brain barrier where it has a calming effect on the nervous system.

      Magnesium glycinate may help relieve the symptoms of stress as the amino acid glycine is known to be effective in inducing calm.

      Stomach upset and or diarrhea have been noted at high doses but generally is known as the most gut-friendly form of magnesium as it is the least likely to cause diarrhea.

       

       

       

       

      Magnesium glycinate is a good option as a general magnesium supplement.

      It’s the best option if you suffer from chronic muscular pain or muscle tightness, spasms and cramps.

      You should take this compound at bedtime because of its relaxing effect.

      No recommended dosage for magnesium glycinate. For magnesium, the standard dosage is 200 - 400 mg.



      Related: Magnesium Glycinate Benefits: Maximizing Health, Performance, and Brain Health

      Magnesium Malate Review - Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

      Magnesium malate is a combination of magnesium and the organic compound malic acid that naturally occurs in many foods, including fruits.

      Malic acid is a key component in the Krebs cycle, which is the process responsible for the production of ATP, the energy-molecule.

       Benefits Side Effects Dosage

      Magnesium malate is considered by some to be the best magnesium supplement to improve the symptoms of energy disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

      Magnesium Malate may also reduce muscle pain.

      May also reduce the effect of heavy metals.

      Magnesium malate may also help regulate blood sugar and calcium/magnesium balance.

      Sometimes causes diarrhea, headaches. No recommended dosage for magnesium malate. For magnesium, the standard dosage is 200 - 400 mg.

       

      Magnesium Orotate - Review - Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

      This is a combination of magnesium and orotic acid (sometimes known as vitamin B13).

      Magnesium orotate has good bioavailability which means it is easily absorbed by the body.

      Its effectiveness as a magnesium supplement for athletes is often reflected in the price which is usually higher than other magnesium supplements.

       Benefits Side Effects Dosage

      Magnesium orotate may benefit athletes by supporting the repair of tissues and increasing stamina, therefore, improving performance and recovery.

      Magnesium orotate may also help improve cardiovascular health by relieving tension on blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

      Is sometimes used as a sleep aid as it inhibits some stress hormones, including epinephrine.

      Is thought to regulate the flow of minerals such as potassium and sodium through the body, aiding hydration.

      Can cause gas, nausea, dehydration, dizziness. No recommended dosage for magnesium orotate. For magnesium, the standard dosage is 200 - 400 mg.


      Magnesium Hydroxide Review - Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

       Benefits Side Effects Dosage

      Used for short periods to relieve symptoms of constipation.

      Also sometimes used as an antacid, to lower the amount of acid in the stomach and to help with heartburn or indigestion.

      Works by pulling water into the colon which can cause dehydration and mineral imbalance


      May also cause nausea, appetite loss, fatigue

      Not recommended due to risk of dehydration and mineral deficiency.

      Magnesium Carbonate Review - Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

      Magnesium carbonate occurs naturally and is usually ground into fine powder to be used in supplements and drinks.

      It is not recommended as its bioavailability is relatively low.

       Benefits Side Effects Dosage
      May help to promote relaxation and alleviate symptoms of stress. May cause stomach upset and diarrhea Not recommended

       

      The Bottom Line on Supplementing with Magnesium

      Without a doubt, magnesium is essential for a healthy and productive life.

      There is a good chance that your diet is not supplying enough magnesium to prevent a deficiency.

      Today you might not even be aware that your vague symptoms – like tiredness, low energy levels, digestive problems, brain fog – are due to a magnesium deficiency.

      Whichever way you look at it, supplementing with magnesium is a good idea. But - consider very carefully which supplement you spend your hard-earned cash on.

      Choose one which addresses your personal health concerns and avoid those which have poor absorption and low bioavailability.

      You may be interested in our top-selling magnesium supplement. 

      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507265/
      2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280319360_What_We_Eat_in_America_NHANES_2005-2006_Usual_Nutrient_Intakes_from_Food_and_Water_Compared_to_1997_Dietary_Reference_Intakes_for_Vitamin_D_Calcium_Phosphorus_and_Magnesium
      3. https://www.britannica.com/science/magnesium
      4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
      5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6242385/
      6. https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com/ce-education/science-sheets/science-review-magnesium-l-threonate/
      7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172865/

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