The recommended daily intake of magnesium increases with age, but most adults should aim for 400 mg.
Not all 400 mg dosages are created equal since the body absorbs each one differently. Currently magnesium supplements are available in at least 14 forms, not including mixtures that include boosters.
Let’s dive into the most common magnesium supplements available and what differentiates them from each other.
Magnesium oxide is a mineral compound commonly found in the earth’s crust. It has very low bioavailability and is considered the least optimal form of magnesium to supplement.
Magnesium oxide is often used in milk of magnesia products since it has a strong laxative effect. That in itself is a red flag for those looking to increase magnesium levels; as a general rule, loose stools from magnesium supplementation are a sign that your body isn’t fully absorbing the magnesium or that you’re taking too much.
Unfortunately, this type of magnesium is commonly used in supplements due to its low cost.
A magnesium acid complex that is widely available, versatile and has solid bioavailability, magnesium citrate is a popular option. This magnesium supplement comes widely recommended by doctors and health professionals.
There are numerous ways to supplement magnesium citrate: capsules/tablets, ionic liquid and powder that you mix into drinks. It’s a great option for the budget-conscious!
Derived from the magnesium salt of citric acid, this form of magnesium has lower concentration, but a high level of bioavalibity (90%). Magnesium citrate is commonly used as to induce a bowel movement, but has also been studied for kidney stone prevention.
This is likely the most popular mineral magnesium. Magnesium chloride is commonly found in sea water. It’s believed to have the highest bioavailability of mineral magnesiums and can be supplemented as a capsule or a liquid.
A form of magnesium showing moderate concentrations, but higher levels of bioavalibity when compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium chloride has many uses, most commonly to help manufacture paper, some types of cements and fireproofing agents.
Magnesium oils are quickly gaining popularity as a way to easily and safely supplement magnesium. Quality magnesium oils are made with magnesium chloride and water, creating a super-saturated brine. This non-greasy mineral brine soaks easily into skin without leaving an unpleasant residue.
It’s typically sold in a spray bottle, so users of magnesium oil simply spritz it on after a bath or shower. Bonus: magnesium oil also helps nourish and moisturize the skin. Win-win!
You’ve probably heard of this type of magnesium before, but by a different name. Ever heard of epsom salts? That’s magnesium sulfate!
Unless you enjoy swallowing supplements, this is one of the most pleasant ways to supplement magnesium; simply dissolve a cup or two of epsom salts in a warm bath and soak. Unfortunately, bioavailability is pretty low. That just means more bath time, right?
Magnesium sulfate also provides sulfur, which can help soothe tired muscles. That makes epsom salts popular among athletes!
An inorganic form of magnesium with an elemental concentration of 10% and lower levels of bioavailability. Magnesium sulfate contains magnesium and sulfer and oxygen; it’s commonly referred to as Epsom Salt.
This type of magnesium shows moderate concentrations, but higher levels of bioavalibity as compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium lactate is a mineral supplement that is most commonly used for treating digestive issues. Magnesium lactate should be avoided by those with kidney disease or kidney-related problems.
This form of magnesium has generated interest because it is very inexpensive and can easily be made into a liquid supplement. There really have not been any substantial research trials supporting its specific health benefits. The down side of this form is that the pidolate molecule does not have any additional health benefits.
Amino Acid Magnesium Chelates
If you’ve ever wondered what “chelated” supplements are, the explanation is actually quite simple: minerals that are bound to amino acid proteins.
So, chelated magnesium supplements are lab-created substances created by bonding magnesium to an amino acid containing nitrogen. Because the magnesium is bound to different amino acid, chelated magnesium supplements have varying benefits than standard magnesium supplements.
Chelated magnesium supplements tend to be a bit more expensive because of the complex processes required to make them.
The good news? The human body is very good at absorbing amino acids! Amino acid chelates generally have high bioavailability because they rely on protein pathways instead of water solubility.
Magnesium amino acid chelates include:
●Magnesium Glycinate – Optimum bioavailability
●Magnesium Lysinate – Good bioavailability
●Magnesium Orotate – Heart health support
●Magnesium Taurate – Heart health support and promotes calmness
●Magnesium Aspartate – Helps fight fatigue and promote cellular energy
●Magnesium L-Threonate – Promotes mental sharpness and cognitive health
●Magnesium Malate – Supports ATP production and cellular energy
Due to its broad ranging beneficial effects, magnesium has really emerged as a quintessential health supplement with an excellent safety profile. Various forms of magnesium can be employed for specific health concerns and to increase bioavailability. Consider the research evidence and activity of each form to choose one that is most appropriate for you.
There are other forms of magnesium out there (like magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium phosphate…) but they aren’t nearly as popular as the forms mentioned above.
If you’ve been confused about which magnesium supplement is right for you, hopefully this post serves as a good resource! Which magnesium supplement did you choose?