Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Getting enough magnesium from your diet is crucial for maintaining good health. However, most people do not get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium from food sources alone. This is where magnesium supplements come in handy.
But with so many types of magnesium supplements on the market, how do you know which one is best for you? In this detailed guide, we will go through the top 7 magnesium supplements, examining the pros and cons of each to help you determine the right one for your needs. From magnesium citrate to magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!
Magnesium citrate is one of the most popular supplemental forms of magnesium on the market. It is a combination of magnesium and citric acid, which is naturally found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes.
Some of the key benefits of magnesium citrate include:
- High bioavailability – Studies show that magnesium citrate has excellent bioavailability compared to other forms, meaning more of it is absorbed and utilized by the body.
- Magnesium replenishment – Due to its high bioavailability, magnesium citrate is commonly used to replenish magnesium levels in people who are deficient.
- Natural laxative effect – Magnesium citrate has mild laxative properties, so it can help relieve occasional constipation. However, too much can cause diarrhea, so start with a low dose.
The main drawback of magnesium citrate is that it’s not the best tolerated by those with sensitive stomachs. The laxative effect can cause abdominal discomfort, nausea or diarrhea in some.
Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine. It offers several potential benefits:
- High bioavailability – Like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate is highly bioavailable and absorbable.
- Supports sleep and mental health – Glycine has calming effects in the body and can help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. The magnesium boosts this effect.
- Well-tolerated – Magnesium glycinate tends to be gentle on the stomach, making it a good option for those with sensitivities.
The only real downside of magnesium glycinate is the higher cost compared to other forms. But for those looking for a high quality, bioavailable magnesium supplement that promotes relaxation, magnesium glycinate is a top choice.
Magnesium L-threonate is a form of magnesium bound to L-threonate, a vitamin C metabolite. Here are some of its main features:
- Highly bioavailable – Like other chelated magnesium forms, magnesium L-threonate has high oral bioavailability and absorption.
- Crosses the blood-brain barrier – Animal studies show magnesium L-threonate can cross the blood-brain barrier, making it ideal for supporting brain health and cognitive function.
- Supports memory and learning – Human clinical studies demonstrate magnesium L-threonate’s ability to enhance memory, concentration and learning abilities.
The only downside is that magnesium L-threonate tends to be more expensive than other forms. But if you are looking for a magnesium supplement to specifically support brain health and cognition, magnesium L-threonate is likely your best bet.
Magnesium oxide is an inexpensive, mineral-only form of magnesium supplement made from magnesium and oxygen. Here are some key points about magnesium oxide:
- Widely available – Magnesium oxide is one of the most common forms sold in pharmacies and grocery stores. It’s easy to find and typically very affordable.
- Poor bioavailability – The bioavailability of magnesium oxide is lower compared to other forms, meaning less gets absorbed. To compensate for this, larger doses are often needed.
- Can cause digestive issues – The poor bioavailability of magnesium oxide means more gets flushed through the intestines, which can result in diarrhea, cramps or bloating in some people.
While not ideal for correcting a deficiency, magnesium oxide can be an option for general magnesium maintenance, especially if on a budget. Just be mindful of potential gastrointestinal side effects.
Magnesium malate combines magnesium with malic acid, which is naturally abundant in fruits like apples. Here are some of its benefits:
- Highly bioavailable – Like other chelated magnesium forms, magnesium malate has high oral bioavailability and absorbability.
- May help with energy – Malic acid plays a role in energy production, so magnesium malate is often used to help boost energy levels.
- Well tolerated – Magnesium malate tends to be gentle on the stomach compared to other forms, making it less likely to cause GI issues.
- May help fibromyalgia – Some research indicates magnesium malate can help reduce muscle pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia.
Overall, magnesium malate offers a highly absorbable form of magnesium that also provides potential energy and pain relieving benefits. It’s an excellent choice, especially for those struggling with low energy or chronic pain issues.
Magnesium taurate combines magnesium with taurine, a conditional amino acid. Here are some of its main advantages:
- Supports blood sugar control – Studies show the combination of magnesium and taurine helps stabilize blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. This makes it beneficial for diabetics.
- Lowers blood pressure – Research in rats indicates magnesium taurate is effective in lowering high blood pressure.
- Cardioprotective effects – The magnesium and taurine work synergistically to support overall cardiovascular health.
- Well tolerated – Magnesium taurate has good bioavailability while also being gentle on the digestive system, with a lower risk of diarrhea or laxative effects.
For those looking to lower blood pressure or blood sugar levels, magnesium taurate is an excellent supplemental choice with proven benefits.
Magnesium sulfate is commonly known as Epsom salt. Here’s an overview:
- Poorly absorbed orally – Due to its bitter, salty taste, magnesium sulfate is not commonly taken by mouth. It has poor oral bioavailability.
- Used topically – Magnesium sulfate is often added to baths or foot soaks. However, absorption through the skin is minimal and not enough to significantly increase magnesium levels.
- Occasional oral use – Oral magnesium sulfate may be used short-term as a laxative to relieve constipation. But it should not be used long-term due to poor absorption.
While magnesium sulfate has benefits when used topically, it is not an ideal option for boosting magnesium levels. Other highly bioavailable forms are preferable.
The Best: Magnesium Complex
While all the magnesium forms discussed have their own unique advantages, my personal favorite is a triple magnesium complex. This type of supplement includes a blend of highly absorbable magnesium compounds, such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate and magnesium citrate or taurate.
A magnesium complex allows you to reap the specific benefits of multiple types of magnesium in one convenient formula. It provides high bioavailability and overall absorption.
I find this gives me the best bang for my buck when it comes to boosting my magnesium intake through supplementation. A high quality triple magnesium complex is my top recommendation for those looking to increase their magnesium levels.
Increasing your daily magnesium intake can provide wide ranging health benefits. From promoting calm, reducing muscle cramps, supporting heart health, regulating blood sugar and beyond, magnesium is an essential mineral for whole body wellness.
While magnesium is found in many foods, supplementation is often needed to reach optimal levels, especially with today’s mineral-depleted soils.
Hopefully this overview has helped shed some light on the key differences between various magnesium supplement options. Look for highly bioavailable forms like magnesium citrate, malate, glycinate or a magnesium complex for best absorption and results.
Remember – any additional magnesium is better than no magnesium at all. So don’t get too hung up on finding the “perfect” magnesium supplement. Find one that fits within your needs and budget, and make it part of your daily regimen for overall wellbeing.