Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body1. It has been called the relaxation mineral and is important for so many areas of your health:
- Bone health
- Calcium absorption
- Blood sugar balance
- Heart health
- Brain health
- Relieving anxiety
- And many more…
As an active individual, you’ve likely been told to take it to keep your muscles in shape. Magnesium is really as versatile as it is important and, it’s no wonder you’re considering supplementing with this miracle mineral!
But, let’s face it, there are so many different types of magnesium on the market today which can get a bit confusing. Choose the wrong type to supplement your diet with and you could end up with some unintended side effects, or simply be wasting your money.
We’re here to help! Below, you’ll discover the most common forms of magnesium and the ones you should look out for to best suit your individual needs.
A guide to good health: which magnesium do you choose?
There are at least 11 types of magnesium, all with slightly different actions. Here are the best and the worst of the bunch:
- Magnesium citrate. This is the most commonly found form of magnesium supplements, but watch out when you take this type! The citrate pulls water into your intestines, which increases the speed at which food moves through your bowels. In other words, it eases constipation2,3 but, if you’re otherwise regular, you’ll be running to the loo a lot more often than you want to be. Additionally, too much magnesium citrate can interfere with nutrient absorption, which is not something you want when you’re trying to replenish your body after a tough workout. In other words, save the citrate for constipation only!
- Magnesium oxide or hydroxide. To get the oxide form of magnesium, the mineral needs to be burned with oxygen, but the process is too costly to make it worth doing for an everyday supplement like magnesium. So, manufacturers expose magnesium salts to oxygen using seawater or salt beds. This form also usually contains more actual magnesium than other forms4, but the source of the magnesium salt determines the quality of the end product. It may be better to obtain your magnesium in one of the other forms mentioned below as they may be more specific to your needs and have the right quality and quantity of magnesium you are looking for.
- Magnesium threonate. This type of magnesium is the only form that increases brain levels of magnesium along with magnesium receptor function in the brain. Studies have revealed that magnesium threonate can enhance learning and memory but also reduce hyperactivity, depression, anxiety and other mental health imbalances5,6,7. In other words, if you’re looking to boost brain power, magnesium threonate is your go-to!
- Magnesium orotate. If you need to give your heart health a boost, mag orotate is the type to choose. It is well absorbed and has specific actions on cardiovascular health because the magnesium is bound to orotic acid8,9. Because of these effects, it also helps with athletic performance and recovery due to improved blood flow.
- Magnesium taurate. Magnesium taurate is another good option when you’re looking for a form of magnesium to promote heart health10,11. The amino acid taurine has been shown to reduce the risk of fatalities in heart disease and, when it is combined with magnesium, can help to maintain healthy blood pressure, reduce the incidence of arrhythmias due to its ability to inhibit irregular firing of the nervous system, and it helps to maintain balanced heart calcium levels. So, depending on what your heart desires, you could opt for either taurate or orotate!
- Magnesium chelate. This is another inexpensive form of magnesium that has overall health boosting properties. It is a chelated form of magnesium, which means it is bound to amino acids; a property that makes it a highly absorbable form that is also well metabolized by the body12. So, for the budget-conscious health enthusiasts out there, this may be your pick!
- Magnesium glycinate. If you’re looking to boost your total magnesium levels, this may be the best option. The magnesium is bound to glycine molecules, which allows it to easily exit the intestinal tract and enter the bloodstream to be delivered to the areas of the body where it’s most needed. High doses of this type of magnesium are typically well tolerated and it can benefit both your overall health and your muscle function13,14. So, if you’re low in magnesium and want to up your levels quickly and effectively, this is a great option!
- Magnesium malate. If you frequently take part in exercise and experience muscle pain and cramping often, this may be the most beneficial type of magnesium for you. Magnesium is combined with malic acid, which is a naturally occurring nutrient that helps to moderate energy production and is important for muscle function during both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. In those who suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, magnesium malate is indicated to help to overcome reduced energy production due to their inability to produce sufficient quantities of malic acid15,16. So, if you suffer from these ailments or take part in regular intensive exercise, magnesium malate takes the win!
Magnesium is quickly and readily used up by your body and, unfortunately, even if your diet is rich in healthy foods, there’s a chance you’re just not getting enough of this important mineral. On top of that, exercise and periods of stress increase the use of magnesium, so taking a supplemental form may be valuable. Be sure to look at those available to you and choose one that can help in the area you need it most!
We hope this guide helped you to pick the most magnificent magnesium for your health!
- de Baaij, J., et al. Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease. American Physiological Society. 2015. 95(1):1-46.
- Wald, A. A Retrospective Study Comparing Polyethylene Glycol-Electrolyte Solution With Magnesium Citrate for Treatment of Fecal Disimpaction. Gastroenterology Nursing. 2018. 41(2):141-144.
- Wald, A. Constipation: Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment. JAMA. 2016. 315(2):185-191.
- Hasbullah, N., et al. Nanotoxicity of magnesium oxide on human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell lines. Adv Mat Res. 2013. 667:160–4.
- Kollak, I., et al. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR POSITIVE EFFECTS OF FAIRY TALE TELLING FOR PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA. Innovation in Aging. 2017. 1(1):170-171.
- Sun, Q., et al. Regulation of structural and functional synapse density by L-threonate through modulation of intraneuronal magnesium concentration. Neuropharmacology. 2016. 108:426-439.
- Lou, Z., et al. Dietary intake of magnesium-L-threonate alleviates memory deficits induced by developmental lead exposure in rats. PSC Adv. 2017. 7:8241-8249.
- Kisters, K., et al. Positive Effect of Magnesium Orotate Therapy in Hypertensive Heart Disease. Metabolomics. 2017. 7:3.
- Torshin, I., et al. Meta-analysis of clinical trials of cardiovascular effects of magnesium orotate. Terapevticheskii Arkhiv. 2015. 87(6):88-97.
- Iezhitsa, I., et al. Mechanism of the anticataract effect of liposomal magnesium taurate in galactose-fed rats. Molecular vision. 2016. 22:734-747.
- Shrivastava, P., et al. Magnesium taurate attenuates progression of hypertension and cardiotoxicity against cadmium chloride-induced hypertensive albino rats. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2018.
- Schuette, S., et al. Bioavailability of Magnesium Diglycinate vs Magnesium Oxide in Patients with Ileal Resection. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 1994. 18(5).
- Abrams, S., et al. ASSESSMENT OF MAGNESIUM ABSORPTION USING STABLE ISOTOPES. Children's Nutrition Research Center. 2001.
- Szajnar, L., et al. FORTIFICATION OF YOGHURTS WITH VARIOUS MAGNESIUM COMPOUNDS. Journal of elementology. 2016. 22(2):559-568.
- Abraham, G., & Flechas, J. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. Journal of Nutritional Medicine. 1992. 3(1):49-59.
- Shu, D. Hair calcium and magnesium levels in patients with fibromyalgia: A case center study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 1999. 22(9):586-593.