Magnesium : Types & Benefits

n a recent study, it was found that nearly 60% of all Americans[1] likely have a magnesium deficiency. A Magnesium deficiency has been shown to the root cause of many major diseases[2] such as Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Heart Disease, Depression, and musculoskeletal disorders such as Fibromyalgia. Magnesium supplements such as Magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate provide a powerful means to remedy a deficiency, and are readily available on the consumer market. Magnesium deficiencies can be caused by any number of circumstances, such as poor diet, candida, parasites, or even as a result in shifting gut bacteria. Magnesium plays a huge role in regulating many vital processes within your body. Diets rich with high magnesium foods such as spinach, and the use of magnesium supplements can help ensure you avoid becoming deficient in this vital mineral.

Parasites, candida, and many other micro-flora within the body can all lead to magnesium Deficiencies

The early signs of a magnesium deficiency include migraines, hypertension, fatigue, seizures, hormonal disruptions, numbness and tingling, and many more concerning health issues. If you are suffering from any of these issues, you should ask your doctor to test you for a magnesium deficiency. It’s not stretch to consider magnesium deficiencies as playing a BIG role in the alarming increase of deaths from chronic disease within the United States in recent years [3]. It’s reasonable to suggest that addressing magnesium deficiencies early on may help lower your chances of becoming part of that statistic, and help you lead a more enjoyable life. For those who are here simply to find a recommendation for a quality magnesium supplement, feel free to jump straight to thee best Magnesium supplement section of this article.

Magnesium Supplements & Modern Diets

Modern diets have been robbed of sufficient magnesium levels through use of over-processed foods, and lack of available soil nutrients. Parasites, candida, and many other micro-flora within the body are all consumers of magnesium, and can often take a large percentage of overall intake. That means that for every milligram of magnesium you consume, your body has to fight against competitors to be able to use it. Those with worrisome amounts of bacteria and fungus in their bodies can often lose these battles, leaving their body with less magnesium than it needs to function properly.

Magnesium supplements offer a powerful means to rein in control of this battle, balancing the odds in your favor. Specialized forms of magnesium are able to be better absorbed than others, and are better suited for different situations. Most magnesium supplements are blends of several different forms, and often contain other minerals such as calcium or potassium. The most basic types of magnesium supplements are generally Magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, magnesium taurate, magnesium threonate, and magnesium citrate. There are certainly more types of this mineral available, but these are the most commonly seen in supplements. Gaining a better understanding of what magnesium is, and how it functions in your body, will help you better understand which magnesium supplement will be the best for your personal goals and circumstance.

What is Magnesium

Magnesium is an elemental compound found naturally in many different foods, supplements, and natural formations of the Earth. This vital mineral is responsible for the regulation and proper execution of over 300 enzyme processes in your body. It regulates protein synthesis, regulates blood pressure, and ensures healthy nerve function. Magnesium is responsible for helping bone to form, in DNA and RNA synthesis and repair, contributes to the production of antioxidants within your body, and even helps your body use other minerals like calcium and magnesium.[4] When  so many aspects of your body are entwined with the availability of magnesium, it’s easier to understand the horrible effects a magnesium deficiency can have on your body. Magnesium is without doubt, one of the most important minerals for your body to be able to function in a healthy capacity.

Magnesium is responsible for the regulation and proper execution of over 300 enzyme processes in your body, regulates protein synthesis, regulates blood pressure, and ensures healthy nerve function.

The average person has 25 grams of magnesium in their body at any given time. Most of this amount is found within bones and soft tissues such as cartilage, leaving a measly 1% left in the blood [4]. This 1% is the magnesium that is available to your body to use in the wide array of cellular and enzymatic processes needed to function properly. Even a slight drop in this level, called your serum magnesium level, can cause a disruption in your body’s most fundamental processes—leading to a cascade of health issues if not addressed quickly and effectively [5]. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400mg daily for men, and 310mg for women [4]. These figures represent the bare minimum amount of magnesium your body needs to function properly. Eating foods high in magnesium, and using supplements if you are have health issues such as parasites or candida is a great way to help ensure you never fall below this threshold.

Optimal Magnesium Levels

Health professionals are constantly learning more processes of body which are dependent on magnesium for proper function, and also many more major diseases and chronic illnesses in which magnesium deficiencies place a very affective role [7]. For this reason, it is critical that you make sure you are receiving at least the RDA of magnesium, and in most cases should consider adding a magnesium supplement to your diet to ensure proper bio-availability. Magnesium is considered a very safe compound, with magnesium supplements having only a few very mild side effects. The signs of a magnesium overdose include excessive urination, diarrhea, and fatigue [6] . The chances of accidental magnesium overdose are extremely small— and are usually only seen when testing for your personal bowel tolerance of magnesium. There is no practical way that you would ever have an overdose of magnesium from eating too many high magnesium foods. The only real way to experience a magnesium overdose is to purposefully take an excessive amount of magnesium supplements. In some cases of kidney dysfunction, magnesium overdoses can present—but in these cases much larger issues are likely at hand.

There is no practical way that you would ever have an overdose of magnesium from eating too many high magnesium foods

Purposeful magnesium overdoses are clinically used to help induce bowel movements in patients suffering from constipation or preparing for a colonoscopy. One of the best ways to understand how much magnesium is right for you, is to perform what doctors call a magnesium bowel tolerance test. This is typically done using a magnesium citrate supplement, and is conducted over the course of several days. One of the main side effects of a magnesium overdose is diarrhea. A magnesium bowel tolerance test is basically just a process of upping your dose of magnesium over several days until you get diarrhea. A typical approach for this would be to take have a magnesium supplement offering around 150mg per capsule. The first day, you’d take one with each meal. The second day you’d take two capsules (a total of 300mg) with each meal. You would continue this process until your stool becomes loose, or you have diarrhea. This is your bowel tolerance level, which can be used for better understanding your magnesium needs as an individual. The higher your bowel tolerance level, the higher your likelihood for magnesium deficiencies or bio-availability issues brought on by parasite type infections.

Bioavailability of Magnesium

As mentioned earlier, magnesium is found in many different forms. Different magnesium supplements offer different forms of this mineral, and each is suited for different circumstances. These different types of magnesium supplements are able to help address many different types of individual needs. If you have few high magnesium foods in your diet, you’d likely be best served with a magnesium citrate supplement. If you suffer from conditions such as SIBO or parasites, you would likely benefit the most from a magnesium glycinate supplement. If you’re interest in magnesium supplements is more focused on the neurological benefits, magnesium threonate would likely be the best magnesium supplement for you. Each of these forms of magnesium are used by your body in different ways, and to understand which one may be the best magnesium supplement for you, it’s advised to learn more about the benefits of each.

Magnesium found in many plants is often locked away tightly inside the cell structures of the plant, and requires complex enzymatic processes to make it available for your body to use

One important factor in finding the best magnesium supplement for you is to be mindful of the bio-availability of each. Bio-availability is a pseudo-scientific term which describes your body’s ability to utilize it. This attribute is best illustrated through the magnesium found in foods. Many foods are high in magnesium, but your digestive system has to first ‘unlock’ it. The magnesium found in many plants is often locked away tightly inside the cell structures of the plant, and requires complex enzymatic processes to make it available for your body to use.[15] Magnesium supplements on the other hand, come in already isolated forms. For example, if you ate an amount of spinach you knew to contain 1 gram of magnesium, your body wouldn’t likely have access to that full amount. However, if you take 1 gram of magnesium in supplement form, your body would have instant access to that amount. This issue of bio-availability is still just the first hurdle in ensuring optimal magnesium levels, and just because it is available to your body doesn’t mean it gets used as it should.

Different Types of Magnesium Supplements

As with many compounds in the body, magnesium’s ability to be utilized by the body is co-dependent on several other compounds—most notably calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. These minerals are naturally found together in many foods, which is why it is recommended to try and achieve optimal magnesium levels through diet before moving on to supplements. When you start introducing supplements into your diet, you run the risk of shifting your overall balance drastically, which could lead to unforeseen side effects. Many known and unknown conditions can lead to your body’s inability to properly access optimal levels of magnesium through diet alone. In cases such as these—or if you simply want to be sure you get enough magnesium—magnesium supplements offer a powerful benefit in achieving optimal levels of magnesium. Different types of magnesium supplements offer different benefits, and are optimized for different circumstances. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the most common types of magnesium, and which situations they are best suited for.

Magnesium Glycinate

Metagenics Magnesium Glycinate

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Magnesium Glycinate is the magnesium salt of a compound called glycine—which is an amino acid. Common variations of of this form are magnesium diglycinate and magnesium bisglycinate. These forms of magnesium are commonly found in ‘chelated’ magnesium products, and are the all-around most easily absorbale for your body. Magnesium Glycinate is often recommended by health professionals to patients that are seeking to raise magnesium serum levels for treatment of Hypomagnesemia—the clinical term for magnesium deficiency. Magnesium Glycinate is much less dependent on the acidity levels of the stomach, and is thought to be absorbed by the body through channels utilized by amino acid absorption. If you are suffering from a known magnesium deficiency, magnesium glycinate is usually the best option to help correct that quickly, since it has a fairly high bowel tolerance level. If you’re looking for a type of magnesium that doesn’t cause diarrhea, this is likely your best option for oral use.

Magnesium Oxide

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Magnesium oxide is a less bio-available form of magnesium that is typically used to treat acid reflux and sour stomachs. The low bio-availability of magnesium oxide makes it an ideal candidate for those seeking to alleviate constipation. This form of magnesium is commonly referred to as milk of magnesia, and has been a common home remedy to centuries. Milk of magnesia is a white liquid form of magnesium that has a very chalky consistency. This remedy is taken as an oral solution for treating heart burn, indigestion, and stomach aches. When magnesium oxide reacts with water, it becomes magnesium hydroxide. Strictly speaking, milk of magnesia supplements and solutions are really magnesium hydroxide—but that really just means that magnesium oxide has been mixed with water. This type of magnesium supplement isn’t recommended for those with magnesium deficiencies. You would likely hit your bowel tolerance long before you were able to add enough absorb-able magnesium with this supplement.

Magnesium Citrate

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Magnesium citrate is a combined form of magnesium and citric acid. Unlike most other types of magnesium supplements, magnesium citrate has an acidic pH, and is often used as a food additive to regulate overall acidity. Magnesium citrate is only ~13% magnesium by weight—the rest being citric acid. When taken, this form of magnesium has the ability to attract water inside your body, pulling it towards your colon through a process know as osmosis.  This use of magnesium citrate is often utilized by doctors preparing patients for a colonoscopy—since over hydration of the color will lead to bowel evacuation. For those on non-oxalate diets, or low-oxalate diets, citrates such as calcium and magnesium citrate have been shown to bond to oxalic acid molecules [8], thus helping the body to properly eliminate oxalates. Magnesium citrate is a good form of magnesium if you are simply looking to help maintain healthy serum magnesium levels. It offers your body access to an increased amount of magnesium, while at the same time helps to regulate healthy bowel cycles.

Magnesium Malate

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Magnesium Malate is a type of magnesium supplement that is found paired with malic acid. Malic acid is commonly found in fruits, and is regarded by many as being ideal for targeted fatigue-specific conditions. Magnesium Malate has been used in several studies investigating the ability of magnesium to treat conditions such as depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One study, conducted with mice [9], did find a significant impact on blood-glucose levels, amylase activity, and overall calcium/magnesium ratios in blood serum levels. Malic acid is known to be integrally involved in your body’s Krebs Cycle, which is where much of your cellular energy is generated. With this in mind, it’s very conceivable how Magnesium malate supplements would be effective in helping to address issues such as chronic fatigue syndrome or depression. Magnesium malate has become a much more popular form of magnesium in recent years, and high quality magnesium malate supplements available on the consumer market.

Magnesium Taurate

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Magnesium taurate is a form of elemental magnesium that has been combine with an amino acid called Taurine. Taurine is thought to be one of the most beneficial elements in helping to promote longer lifespans. Research has shown that Taurine in itself has been able to reduce the risk of heart attacks by up to 80%, balance electrolyte levels, and promote healthy immune function.[16] Additionally, magnesium taurate supplements have demonstrated the ability to treat cases of depression [13], vascular health, and the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders and migraines.[14] in clinical settings. Magnesium Taurate can be slightly more difficult to find than other forms of magnesium, but with the rising demand among health-conscious buyers—it is becoming more available. L-Taurine is also considered to be a powerful nootropic compound, capable of improving overall cognitive function and memory. This close association of magnesium taruate and taurine lead many to believe magnesium taurate to be one of the better suited magnesium supplements for brain health.

Magnesium Threonate

ium Threonate is a relatively new form of magnesium that has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. This form of Magnesium was developed at MIT with the specific intention of finding a form of magnesium that could be more readily-absorbed by the brain [11]. It’s marketed as being a nootropic, capable of enhancing cognitive functions such as short-term memory, as well as overall alertness. Magnesium Threonate is the only compound discussed in this article that is considered to be a synthetic—meaning someone holds a patent restricting the ability of other companies to manufacture it. For this reason, Magnesium Threonate is often seen to be more expensive than other forms of the the mineral. The only readily-available research on this compound is either directly, or indirectly (via author) to Magceutics—the company that owns the patent. The most cited study, Genetic enhancement of learning and memory in mice, lists Guosong Liu as an author, whom is also the owner of Magceutics.

Magnesium Supplement Side Effects

Magnesium supplements pose very little risk of side effects in most all cases. Some people that suffer from poorly functioning kidneys may have some difficulty in eliminating excess amounts of magnesium. People suffering from such renal conditions as this are likely very aware of their condition and under frequent advisement and monitoring by a licensed professional. In people with normal functioning kidneys, any excess magnesium is passed out of the body through urination. Large doses of magnesium are used clinically to induce colon evacuation, and are known to cause diarrhea. This is a natural response by your body, and shouldn’t be regarded with much concern unless the diarrhea persists after reducing your magnesium intake. Excess amounts of magnesium are also known to cause fatigue—often reported as an ‘over-relaxed’ state rather than just simply being tire.

Magnesium supplements post very little risk of side effects in most all cases

Magnesium is also know to have undesirable interactions with certain drugs, such as antibiotics, ant-acids, insulin, diuretics, and some hormonal replacement therapies [12]. It is recommended that you consult your doctor if you are on any of these medications and plan on starting a magnesium supplement. Many prescription medications that have been reported to be in conflict with magnesium supplements have been shown to be less absorbable without magnesium. This hints that the dangers might not necessarily be in any alteration of the efficacy of the drugs, simply in their potency. In many cases, the medications that are less absorbed while taken with magnesium are commonly-prescribed for conditions that magnesium has been shown to be effective in treating anyway. Curiously, most of the research outlining potential interactions doesn’t clearly state whether the intended outcome of treatment—the patient getting better—was still achieved.

Best Magnesium Supplements

Overall, all forms of magnesium available on the consumer market ultimately provide the proven benefits of magnesium in the treatment of many major diseases such as depression, heart-attacks, diabetes [5]. That being said, this list represents an ‘all things considered’ type of metric, and lists those magnesium supplements that are of high quality, high bioavailability, and are most easily administered. Your individual needs should largely influence your decision on which magnesium supplement stands to best meet your goals. Magnesium has only few mild side effects—it’s generally regarded as safe to experiment with different types to better understand which ones are best for you. Below, is a list of some of the best options for each of the types of magnesium discussed in this article. These supplements are all made from manufacturers that take quality and purity of ingredients very seriously. These supplements are all produced in cGMP certified facilities, have each batch checked for toxins and heavy metals, and are all certified to be free of allergens such as wheat, gluten, and dairy.

Not Sure Which One To Try?

Country Life has a wonderful blend of the oxide, aspartate, taurinate, citrate and alpha-ketoglutarate types of magnesium with added silica (from horsetail) that is a good choice for many people. This combines the best of all types in an easy to swallow capsule and at a reasonable price.

A Vital Part of Health

Magnesium is one of the most vital nutrients to the human body, and an inadequate amount can cause many number of major health concerns. It is recommended to try to meet your body’s daily magnesium requirements through diet before considering taking magnesium supplements. One way to increase the bioavailability of the magnesium in your foods is to juice them. Check out our article on the best juicers for more information on the benefits of juicing. Researchers are discovering new ways in which magnesium supplements can be vital in the treatment of conditions such as depression, diabetes, and other major diseases such as heart attacks. Magnesium is a very safe compound that, in the rare cases of overdose or toxicity, will only only cause mild symptoms such as diarrhea or fatigue.

With the prevalence of magnesium deficiencies in the United States, nearly everyone stands to benefit from taking a magnesium supplement

There are many forms of magnesium supplements that all represent slightly different advantages in their ability to be absorbed by the  body as well as the treatment of specific conditions. When shopping for a magnesium supplement you should consider you goals and present condition before choosing a specific form. It’s important to purchase your supplements from trusted manufacturers which offer vitamins and supplements of the highest quality available. Magnesium supplements are extremely cost-effective at addressing a huge range of health issues. With the prevalence of magnesium deficiencies in the United States, nearly everyone stands to benefit from taking a magnesium supplement. You should always consult a licensed professional before making any adjustments to your current medications or beginning a new supplement.

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