Magnesium Part II: 11 Forms and Uses
Updated: Sep 4
Magnesium is an amazing mineral that is involved in over 300 enzyme processes in the human body. If you read the first post form this series you know just how important magnesium is to everyday life. You also know that the human body doesn’t produce magnesium so we must ingest it on a daily basis. If you haven’t read the first post in this series, you can check it out here [Magnesium].
Now that we have a better understanding of what magnesium is, how it’s used in the body, and just how much we should be ingesting daily let’s go over some of the different forms of Magnesium. As I have stated before, supplementation should not be our first course of action. It’s far better to get our recommended daily intake through whole and organic food sources when possible. Only then should we lean towards supplements. With that being said, I’m going to look into the 11 most common forms of magnesium, their uses, and which one’s might be right for your needs.
Magnesium Citrate is probably the most common form used in supplements. This is formed by binding magnesium to citric acid. Citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits, but can be artificially produced as well. This is most commonly produced in a 1:1 ratio of magnesium atoms to citrate molecules, but there are some formulas that use a 3:2 ratio.
A highly bioavailable form of magnesium, it is easily absorbed. The most common uses for this form are to increase low magnesium levels and to treat constipation. Magnesium Citrate has a natural laxative effect and for this reason can be taken at high doses to treat constipation. Some research has claimed this form can help with the reduction of depression and anxiety as well, but this requires more in-depth research.
Probably the most popular form of magnesium available, magnesium citrate is easily absorbed and commonly used to increase levels in the body as well as constipation.
Magnesium Malate is a combination of magnesium and malic acid. Malic acid is found naturally in foods and wines. It is also commonly used as a food additive to increase acidity in those products.
This form has been researched heavily and found to be absorbed extremely well. This makes it a great option for anyone looking to increase their magnesium levels in the body. This form has also been linked to several health benefits such as improved exercise performance, blood pressure control, mood, and headache relief.
Magnesium Malate is easily absorbed in the body and could help improve headaches, mood, blood sugar control, and exercise performance.
Magnesium Glycinate, also called Magnesium Bisglycinate, is a combination of elemental magnesium and the amino acid glycine. Glycine is commonly found in protein rich foods such as meats, fish, and dairy products but can also be produced in the human body. Glycine is also commonly used as a supplement to improve sleep quality and reduce inflammatory conditioning like heart disease (1).
This form of magnesium is easily absorbed in the body and has been shown to produce calming effects. It has also been linked to reductions in anxiety, depression, stress levels, and insomnia. However, more research is needed on each of these topics.
Magnesium Glycinate is extremely popular and commonly used to as a calming agent. Many products containing it are directed towards the improvement of sleep quality and duration as well as improving mood.
Magnesium Aspartate is a readily absorbable, and the most bioavailable, form of magnesium according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. This form is a combination of Magnesium and Aspartic Acid, a nonessential amino acid.
This form of magnesium is most commonly used for increasing levels of magnesium in the body, improving sleep quality, and general muscle recovery. It has been shown to help with sleep quality as well as getting to sleep faster. A major component of the heavily studied ZMA, this form has been linked to improvements in muscle growth, testosterone production, and exercise performance. The research has become cloudier recently, but has not been disproven. This form is also a potent neuron stimulator and for this reason should not be taken in excess.
Another very popular form of magnesium supplement, there has been a great deal of research on its effectiveness. It is commonly used to increase magnesium levels in the body, nerve functioning, exercise performance, muscle growth, and promote longer and deeper sleep.
ON ZMA Link
Magnesium Chloride is a form of magnesium salt combined with chlorine. Chlorine is an unstable element that is used in many ways around the world. It is commonly found in salt forms such as sodium and magnesium chloride.
This form is well absorbed through the digestive tract and is commonly used to increase magnesium levels in the body and relieve heartburn and constipation. This form has also been used topically to soothe and relax sore muscles, although there is not much evidence to support these claims.
Magnesium Chloride is easily absorbed and can be used to treat magnesium deficiency, heart burn, and constipation. There is little evidence to suggest the topical application actually helps to relieve muscle soreness.
Magnesium Taurate, also referred to as Magnesium Taurinate, is a combination of magnesium oxide and the amino acid taurine (2). Taurine is commonly found in meats and fish. It is commonly used as a supplement to improve energy levels and athletic performance, as well as reduce inflammation of the liver and blood pressure.
One of the more complex forms of magnesium, it combines with water and divides into taurine and magnesium ions. This helps magnesium travel in and out of cells through the cell membranes. This along with the effect it has on calcium in the cells, helps to control heart functions and blood pressure. This form is also commonly prescribed to infants, particularly premature infants, as it plays a key role in eye and brain development, but can’t be produced by infants. This form is also commonly used to improve sleep and sleep quality.
Magnesium Taurate can be a great source of magnesium if you wish to improve your blood pressure, blood sugar control, or sleep quality.
Magnesium Lactate is the salt that is formed from the binding of magnesium and lactic acid. Lactic acid is produced in the body, but is also manufactured as a preservative.
This form of magnesium is commonly used as a food additive to help control acidity of products. This is not a common supplement form, but it is recommended for individuals who do not tolerate other forms very well. It is easily absorbed and has been shown to have fewer digestive side-effects associated with it (3). There may be stress related benefits of this form as well but more research is needed.
Magnesium Lactate is a great alternative for those who do not tolerate other forms very well or may need to take higher than normal doses.
Magnesium L-threonate is the salt that is formed from the combination of magnesium and threonic acid. Threonic acid is a water soluble substance that occurs from the breakdown of Vitamin-C in the body.
This form is easily absorbed and research suggests it is the most beneficial from for increasing magnesium concentrations in the brain (4). Common uses for this form are to help with depression and age-related memory loss.
Magnesium L-threonate may support overall brain health as well as depression and age-related memory loss disorders, but more research is required to be sure.
Magnesium Orotate is a combination of Magnesium and Orotic Acid. Orotic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body which is responsible for the construction of DNA. It has also been linked to improved athletic performance, endurance and heart health.
There are conflicting results on the absorption studies of this form of magnesium. Some studies have said it’s the most absorbed while other studies have concluded that orotic acid does not help to improve magnesium absorption at all. This form has been shown to be the most effective form for reducing symptoms and survival of individuals with congestive heart failure. Due to the benefits associate with orotic acid it is also commonly used for athletic performance. However, the price of this supplement is much higher than other forms, and due to the limited research is not easily justified.
Magnesium Orotate has great potential to improve heart health and athletic performance. The price tag is often far too high to justify the minimal benefits over other forms.
Magnesium Sulfate, also known as Epsom Salt, is the combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.
This form can be used orally, but has an unpleasant taste and most individuals opt for other forms. The most common use of Epsom Salt is to dissolve it in bath water to aid in the soothing of sore or achy muscles and relieve stress. It is also used in skin care products such as lotions and oils. Research has yet to find substantial evidence that magnesium can be absorbed through the skin.
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt) is primarily used by dissolving it in bath water to alleviate stress and sore muscles. There is little evidence to suggest this is an adequate way to increase magnesium levels in the body.
Magnesium Oxide is a salt that is formed by the combination of magnesium and oxygen. It is also the main ingredient of Milk of Magnesia which is commonly used to treat constipation.
Research has shown that this form is not absorbed well by the human body and for that reason it is not often used to increase magnesium levels. It’s primarily used to treat digestive issues such as constipation, heartburn, and indigestion.
Magnesium Oxide is not a good choice for magnesium supplementation, but can be useful for the treatment of digestive issues.
Magnesium is such an important mineral in our diet and nearly 60% of Americans are deficient. For these reasons supplementation could be a beneficial course of action. If you are planning on taking magnesium supplements it’s important to consult your physician before doing so. Some magnesium products interact poorly with medications and can reduce their effectiveness.
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(1) Razak MA, Begum PS, Viswanath B, Rajagopal S. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1716701. doi:10.1155/2017/1716701
(2) Cloe, Adam. Benefits of Magnesium Taurate. https://www.livestrong.com/article/165484-benefits-of-magnesium-taurate/
(3) Robinson CM, Karet Frankl FE. Magnesium lactate in the treatment of Gitelman syndrome: patient-reported outcomes. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2017;32(3):508-512. doi:10.1093/ndt/gfw019
(4) Zarate C, Duman RS, Liu G, Sartori S, Quiroz J, Murck H. New paradigms for treatment-resistant depression. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013;1292:21-31. doi:10.1111/nyas.12223