Magnesium - Which type Should You Supplement for Maximum Benefits?

By Roy Krebs

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Magnesium is the fourth most common element in the earth.

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

This means that you have to consume enough magnesium to keep your system working – including energy production, muscle movement, your heart beat, passing messages through the nervous system and a lot more!

With so many functions, a magnesium deficiency can lead to many health problems.

Some of the health issues you may be experiencing right now (like brain fog) could be caused by a lack of magnesium.

I strongly believe that magnesium is one of the most popular supplements you can take.  

However supplementation presents two problems:

1.) There are so many different forms of magnesium, it's confusing 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 will take a closer look into why magnesium is vital for optimal health.

Then we will explore the different types of so that you can choose the best magnesium supplement.

Magnesium's Function in the Body

Magnesium essential in preventing and managing many health conditions.

For a better idea of its importance, I've built a table summarizing just a few common conditions and the role of magnesium [1].

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 for treatment.

Intravenous magnesium is showing good results in treating migraine

Depression

Neuronal transmission

Case histories of rapid recovery from major depression with higher than normal daily recommended doses of Magnesium, [2]

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.[3]

        This occurs when your intake is low or you suddenly need more, your body will use stored magnesium.  

        When 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. 

        Trouble Focusing

        Magnesium works with your enzymes inside of your cells to create energy. Low levels can mean you're going 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 low levels of magnesium associated with problems like depression. 

        Why has deficiency increased? 

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

        Second there are a variety of reasons we are getting less magnesium in our diets.

        These include:

        • we consume more refined and processed foods, rather than natural foods
        • purification processes depletes the amount of magnesium available in drinking water
        • the food we eat has less magnesium than due to intensive farming practices
        • we have more physical and emotional stress which increases the amount of magnesium we use [4]

        Specific groups that are also 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

        Now we'll cover the different types of magnesium and which ones I recommend for optimal health. 

        Reviewing the Types of Magnesium Supplements

        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. [6]

        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.

        It 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. 

        It's 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

        Feel free to click anywhere in the guide and jump around as this is very detailed.

        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 citric acid - an organic substance. This compound is commonly used in supplements.

        Compared to other compounds, magnesium citrate it has greater laxative properties and it might help to prevent kidney stones.

      • Magnesium citrate is popular because of its relatively low cost.

        Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

        It mixes well with water, is easily absorbed in the digestive tract, and good bioavailability of 25-30%.

        Gastrointestinal and stomach issues like cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and gas. 
        Magnesium citrate is not recommended. You may want to try it if you are having a problem with constipation.

         

        Magnesium Oxide Review – Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

        Magnesium oxide is an inorganic compound containing a very high percentage of magnesium.

        It is not well absorbed and has a low bioavailability of only around 4%.

      • Magnesium oxide is not recommended as a magnesium supplement.

        Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

        You probably know this compound well as Milk of Magnesia – a medicine traditionally used to treat heart burn and indigestion.

        Most of it is excreted and it tends to cause diarrhea.
        Use in liquid form to treat acid reflux or as a laxative.


        Magnesium Sulfate - Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

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

        Magnesium Sulfate has low absorption in the intestinal tract and low bioavailability.

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

        Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

        When dissolved in water, some magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin. Traditional medicine and some research suggests that does acts locally for inflammation.

        Stomach upset and or diarrhea have been observed in high doses.
        You can use magnesium sulfate as bath salts to relieve swelling, inflammation, as well as muscle aches and pains. 


        Magnesium Chloride Review - Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage

        Magnesium Chloride is a naturally occurring inorganic compound.

        It is usually extracted from bodies of water with a high salt content, such as the Great Salt Lake.

        This is a compound of choice for many supplement manufacturers due to its reasonably good bioavailability.

        It is becoming less popular 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 magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. [7] Because it is well absorbed through the skin, it can be an alternative for you if experience excessive loose stools from oral magnesium supplements.

        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 get a dual action where the magnesium and taurine both stabilize and improve heart function. The compound also contributes to an increase in ATP production which protects the heart muscle. Both also lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting.

        Magnesium Taurate improves insulin sensitivity. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and can provide relief for muscle twitches and spasms as well as anxiety. [8]

        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.


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

        This is a compound of magnesium and L-Threonate, which is an organic non-amino acid.

        Magnesium L-Threonate was specifically developed as a substance which could cross the blood-brain barrier more readily than other magnesium supplements.

        Studies have shown that supplementation with this compound does greatly increase the concentration of magnesium in the brain and spinal column.

        To date most of the benefits have been found in studies on rats, but recent studies on humans are showing similar promising results.[9]

    • It is also the best choice if you are an older person and want to protect yourself against memory loss and other symptoms of cognitive decline.

      Benefits  Side Effects Dosage

      This relatively new product show great promise for brain health.

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

      Supplementing with magnesium l-threonate may cause headaches, drowsiness, or a feeling of increased blood flow to the head. This is 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. 


      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.

      Glycine helps the compound to be absorbed quickly 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 on 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 as well as muscle rigidity and spasms.

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

      Stomach upset and or diarrhea have been noted at high doses.

       

       

       

       

      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. 

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

      The Bottom Line on Supplementing with Magnesium

      Without a doubt magnesium is absolutely 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.

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