Among the most abundant minerals in your body, magnesium comes in fourth. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 metabolic reactions you need for your health.
- Regulating blood pressure
- Muscle contractions
- Energy production
- Nerve signal transmission
Low levels of magnesium have been connected to a wide range of illnesses including heart disease, migraines, type 2 diabetes, and mood disorders.
Despite the availability of this mineral in whole foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy green vegetables, as many as two-thirds of the population of the Western world do not receive enough magnesium with their diets. A lot of people are using supplements to increase their intake.
Due to the many different types of magnesium supplements, you may be uncertain which one you need. You can receive different types of magnesium by taking dietary supplements. Each one has different benefits and drawbacks as we discuss below:
1. Magnesium Glycinate
The formation of magnesium glycinate is derived from the amino acid glycine and elemental magnesium. Amino acids are used by your body to construct proteins. This can be seen in a variety of foods rich in protein including meat, fish, legumes and dairy.
Glycine is frequently used as a dietary supplement for a wide range of inflammatory conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and for the improvement of sleep. You can absorb magnesium glycinate easily and there may be calming properties including the reduction of:
Due to a lack of current scientific evidence, further studies and research are necessary.
2. Magnesium Citrate
This type of magnesium is bound through citric acid.
You can find this acid in citrus fruits naturally and it is responsible for the tart taste. Citric acid is frequently produced as a flavor enhancer and preservative throughout the food industry. This is one of the most common types of magnesium which you can purchase easily at local stores or online. According to certain research, magnesium citrate is one of the most bioavailable types so your digestive tract can absorb it easier.
Magnesium citrate is usually consumed orally for the replenishment of low magnesium levels. Higher dosages are sometimes used for the treatment of constipation because it has a natural laxative effect. Although additional research is necessary, you may see this type of magnesium advertised as a calming agent for symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
3. Magnesium Lactate
When magnesium and lactic acid bind, the salt formed is called magnesium lactate. In addition to your blood cells and muscles producing this type of acid, you can also find it manufactured as a flavoring agent and preservative. The two key reasons magnesium lactate is used as a food additive are the fortification of beverages and foods and the regulation of acidity. Magnesium lactate is not as popular as a dietary supplement purchased over the counter.
Your body can absorb this type of magnesium easily and it might be somewhat gentler on your digestive system than many of the other types. This is extremely important if you do not tolerate the other forms easily or if you have to consume larger doses of magnesium. A study was conducted with 28 participants with a rare condition mandating large doses of magnesium on a daily basis.
Digestive side effects decreased for the participants using magnesium lactate in a slow-release tablet in comparison to the control group. Several smaller studies have also been conducted. The results showed this type of magnesium may be useful for the treatment of anxiety and stress although more research is necessary.
4. Magnesium L-Threonate
When threonic acid and magnesium are mixed, a salt called magnesium L-threonate forms. This substance is water-soluble and comes from a metabolic breakdown of vitamin C. You can absorb this form of magnesium easily. According to animal research, magnesium L-threonate might be the most effective to increase the concentrations of magnesium in your brain cells. This form is used frequently for the potential benefits for the brain.
Magnesium L-threonate may be effective for the management of specific brain disorders including memory loss related to aging and depression. Additional studies and research are necessary.
5. Magnesium Oxide
The salt combining oxygen and magnesium is called magnesium oxide. In the natural state, this is a powdery, white substance you may find sold in capsule or powder form. The main active ingredient found in milk of magnesia is magnesium oxide. This type of medication is often purchased over the counter for relief from constipation. In most cases, this form is not used for the prevention or treatment of a magnesium deficiency.
This is because studies have shown that absorption by the digestive tract is poor. The more common use is for the prevention and treatment of migraines and the relief of digestive symptoms resulting in discomfort including constipation, indigestion and heartburn.
6. Magnesium Malate
Magnesium malate contains malic acid. You will find this occurring naturally in various foods such as wine and fruit. The taste of this acid is sour and frequently used to add acidity, enhance flavor or as a food additive. According to research, your digestive system absorbs this type of magnesium extremely well. This means it is an excellent option to replenish your levels of magnesium.
There have been some reports that magnesium malate is gentler for your system. The laxative effect might be less than with other types of magnesium. This might be advantageous according to your individual needs. Magnesium malate is recommended occasionally to treat symptoms related to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. There is no scientific evidence available at this time supporting these uses.
7. Magnesium Chloride
This type of magnesium is a type of magnesium salt containing chlorine. Although this element is unstable, it binds well to several other elements such as magnesium and sodium for the formation of salts. This is an excellent multi-purpose supplement because it can be absorbed easily by your digestive tract. Magnesium chloride can be used for the treatment of constipation, heartburn and low levels of magnesium. In most cases, you will take a tablet or capsule form.
Sometimes, magnesium chloride is used for topical products including ointments and lotions. These types of skin creams are frequently used to relax and soothe sore muscles despite there being little scientific evidence to show they will improve your levels of magnesium.
8. Magnesium Sulfate
When oxygen, sulfur and magnesium are combined, magnesium sulfate forms. This is often called Epsom salt. This form of magnesium is white, with a texture much like table salt. Although you can use it to treat constipation, you may prefer another form to support your digestion due to the unpleasant taste. You can dissolve magnesium sulfate in your bath water to relieve stress and soothe achy, sore muscles.
You may find magnesium sulfate in skincare products including body oil and lotion. When your levels of magnesium are adequate, you may experience relief from stress and muscle relaxation. Some evidence shows this type of magnesium can absorb well through your skin.
9. Magnesium Taurate
An amino acid called taurine is contained in magnesium taurate. According to research, an adequate supply of both magnesium and taurine can help with the regulation of your blood sugar. That means this type of magnesium might promote healthy levels of blood sugar. According to a recent study involving animals, blood pressure was significantly reduced in rats with high blood pressure. The indication is magnesium taurate may enhance your heart health.
10. Magnesium Orotate
Orotic acid is contained in magnesium orotate. This is a natural substance your body requires to construct genetic material such as DNA. You can absorb this form easily without the strong laxative effect of other types of magnesium. According to early research, this form of magnesium might promote heart health. This is because the role orotic acid plays regarding energy production pathways to your blood vessel tissue and heart is unique.
For this reason, magnesium orotate has become popular for fitness enthusiasts and athletes. It may also help with heart disease. A study was conducted among 79 individuals with advanced congestive heart failure. The results achieved with supplements containing magnesium orotate were much more effective for survival and managing symptoms than a placebo. Your cost is a lot higher than other supplements containing magnesium. According to the limited evidence, the cost may or may not be justified for your individual needs.
How to Select the Best Magnesium Product for Your Needs
When you select a magnesium product, considering all of the following is extremely important.
- Whether a topical product or supplement is necessary
- The amount of magnesium you are already receiving through your diet
- The best type of delivery such as topical or oral
- The amount of extra magnesium you need
Following the guidelines above will help you select a product both effective and safe. The RDA or recommended dietary allowance of magnesium is between 310 and 360 milligrams for adult females and 400 to 420 milligrams for adult males. The RDA can increase to a maximum of 400 milligrams daily when a woman is pregnant or lactating. You can find out if you require additional magnesium by speaking to your doctor about having your magnesium levels tested.
Magnesium Health Benefits
The role of magnesium in your body is critical including regulating your neurotransmitters, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. When you receive enough magnesium, you may experience the following benefits.
- Enhancing mental health
- Boosting absorption of vitamin D
- Easing muscle aches
- Health support during pregnancy
- Improvement of sleep quality
- Assisting individuals to quit smoking
- Promotion of bone health
Some evidence has shown magnesium may be helpful when included in the treatment plan for the conditions below.
- Diabetic neuropathy and diabetes
- Preeclampsia and eclampsia
- Depression and anxiety
- Metabolic syndrome
If you have an underlying health condition, the recommendation is to consult with your physician prior to taking any magnesium supplement.
Magnesium Food Sources
You can increase your intake of magnesium from the foods you consume. The best dietary sources include:
- You receive 37 percent of the daily value per oz with roasted pumpkin seeds. They contain 26 percent of your daily value per ounce.
- For every one-half cup you consume of boiled spinach, you receive 19 percent of your daily magnesium value.
- For each ounce of almonds you consume, you receive 19 percent of your daily value.
- Other good sources of magnesium include black beans, soy milk, peanuts and cashews.
Cashews, peanuts, soy milk, and black beans are also good sources. Many other foods contain smaller amounts of magnesium. Keep in mind, your body can only absorb approximately 30 to 40 percent of dietary magnesium. When you combine this with the fairly small amounts you are receiving with food, it can be difficult to get the magnesium you need with food alone.
Potential Side Effects and Dosage
The amount of magnesium recommended daily is different for men and women. To ensure you are taking the correct dosage for your individual needs, checking the label is important. Some countries such as the United States do not regulate supplements. Your best option is to choose products tested by third parties including NSF International, ConsumerLab and USP. The majority of people can use magnesium supplements safely. Once your body obtains an adequate level, any excess will be excreted from your body in your urine.
You may experience mild symptoms including an upset stomach or diarrhea by taking excessive doses or certain forms of magnesium. Magnesium toxicity is rare but may occur. The risk increases if you are consuming extremely large doses of magnesium or have kidney disease. Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:
- Irregular breathing
- Urinary retention
- Muscle weakness
Consulting with your physician is always a good idea prior to including any dietary supplements in your daily routine.
Which Individuals Should Be Taking a Magnesium Supplement
If your levels of magnesium are not low, there is no current evidence suggesting using a magnesium supplement offers any measurable benefits. If you have a deficiency, obtaining magnesium from whole foods is a good initial strategy. You can find magnesium in a variety of different foods including:
- Vegetables including avocado, kale and spinach
- Legumes including edamame and black beans
- Whole grains including whole wheat and oatmeal
- Nuts including cashews, peanuts and almonds
- Dark chocolate
If you are unable to obtain the magnesium you need from your diet alone, you may want to consider taking a supplement. The deficiency risk may be higher among certain populations. This includes individuals with a dependence on alcohol, digestive disorders, type 2 diabetes and older adults.
The Bottom Line
Magnesium is essential for your health. If you do not receive adequate levels of magnesium through the foods you consume, using a supplement can help. There is a range of different forms of magnesium available offering different uses and benefits. If you are uncertain which one is right for your individual needs, talk to your physician. Some people are not able to obtain enough magnesium and require a supplement.
Certain types of magnesium supplements are appropriate as dietary supplements including lactate, glycinate and citrate. Other types are appropriate for topical uses including on your skin or in a bath.