Which Type of Magnesium Is Best For You?

Which Type of Magnesium Is Best For You?

Have you ever thought about magnesium and its role in keeping you healthy? It’s a mineral, which plays a part in over 300 body processes, like turning food into energy and helping our muscles move. Yet, despite magnesium being found in plenty of foods, many of us aren’t getting enough from our meals alone.

So, how do you you know that you get the right amount and the right kind of magnesium for your needs? Let’s take a closer look and see which magnesium might be your perfect match.

Types of Magnesium Supplements

Let’s break down the various forms of magnesium supplements on the market.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate stands out in the world of magnesium supplements for its efficiency in improving digestive health. Known primarily for its gentle laxative properties, it is a go-to option for individuals seeking a mild solution to digestive sluggishness without harsher chemical laxatives.

Magnesium citrate has a high level of absorption ensuring that the body can effectively reap its benefits, from supporting muscle and nerve function to contributing to energy production and bone health.

Magnesium Glycinate

This compound, a combination of magnesium and the amino acid glycinate, also offers superior bioavailability and a gentler impact on the gastrointestinal system compared to other forms of magnesium, such as oxide or sulfate. The enhanced absorption is attributed to glycine, which facilitates magnesium’s passage across intestinal walls, thus increasing its availability for biological functions.

Glycine itself acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, contributing to neurological balance and potentially enhancing magnesium’s natural calming effects on the nervous system. This makes magnesium glycinate particularly beneficial for those experiencing stress, anxiety, or sleep disturbances, common issues as we navigate the complexities of midlife.

Emerging research highlights a correlation between magnesium levels and mood disorders. Studies suggest that supplementation with magnesium, specifically in its glycinate form due to its high bioavailability, can rapidly improve symptoms. A 2017 study described significant improvements in mood disorder symptoms among participants who took magnesium and pointed towards magnesium glycinate as a viable, natural adjunctive treatment for mood regulation.

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide, an inorganic compound of magnesium and oxygen ions, stands out due to its specific therapeutic benefits, despite its bioavailability challenges. A 2021 study highlighted the efficacy of 500 milligrams of magnesium oxide daily in mitigating migraine frequency. This finding is particularly relevant for those seeking non-pharmacological options to manage migraine headaches, which can significantly impact quality of life. Similarly, another study from 2021 demonstrated magnesium oxide’s effectiveness in improving bowel movements and enhancing the quality of life in individuals suffering from constipation.

Despite these benefits, magnesium oxide’s low absorption rate distinguishes it from more bioavailable forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or glycinate. This reduced bioavailability means that while magnesium oxide can be effective for specific health applications, the body may not utilize it as efficiently for broader physiological needs.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride stands out for its superior absorption efficiency compared to other forms, such as magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate. Despite its effects, magnesium chloride shares a common caveat with other magnesium salts: a propensity to induce gastrointestinal side effects. These can include diarrhea and abdominal discomfort, particularly at higher doses.

One of the more compelling aspects of magnesium chloride supplementation is its potential benefit for mental health disorders. The 2017 randomized clinical trial by Tarleton et al. highlighted the role of magnesium as an option for those exploring its antidepressant properties. The study’s findings suggest that magnesium, by participating in various biochemical pathways involved in brain function, can positively impact mood regulation.

Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium L-threonate was developed in 2010. Due to its high bioavailability, it surpasses other forms like magnesium chloride, citrate, glycinate, and gluconate in both absorption and retention rates. Studies suggest magnesium L-threonate may enhance neurological health and manage pain, including the relief of constipation. Its targeted action in the brain and potential for pain management make it a standout option for those looking to optimize their magnesium intake with specific health outcomes in mind.

How to Choose the Right Type for You

When selecting a magnesium supplement, choose high-quality products from reputable brands that undergo third-party testing for purity and potency, ensuring safety and effectiveness. Taking bioavailable forms such as magnesium glycinate or citrate may enhance absorption and minimize gastrointestinal discomfort. When selecting a magnesium supplement, think about how to take it. If you can’t swallow pills, liquid or powdered forms might be a better fit for you. This way, you can customize your magnesium intake to meet your health goals and suit your preferences.


How much magnesium should I take daily?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by age, gender, and life stage. Adults should aim for 400-420 mg daily for men and 310-320 mg for women. However, your needs might differ based on health conditions or dietary intake, so it’s wise to consult with a healthcare provider.

Can I take magnesium supplements on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take magnesium supplements on an empty stomach, but some forms of magnesium might cause gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea if not taken with food. If you experience any digestive upset, try taking your supplement with a meal.

Are there any medications that shouldn’t be taken with magnesium?

Magnesium can interact with several medications, including diuretics, antibiotics, and medications for osteoporosis. It’s essential to discuss with your healthcare provider before starting a magnesium supplement if you’re taking any medications to avoid adverse interactions.

How long does it take to feel the effects of magnesium supplements?

Some people may start to see improvements in symptoms like muscle cramps or sleep quality within a few days, while for others, it might take up to a month or longer.

Can I get all the magnesium I need from food?

While it’s possible to meet your magnesium needs through diet alone, many people find it challenging due to modern agricultural practices and processed foods that are lower in magnesium. Including magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains in your diet is a great start, but supplements can help ensure you get enough.

Incorporating Magnesium into Your Diet

Beyond supplements, don’t forget the power of a magnesium-rich diet. Foods like almonds, spinach, and black beans can be delicious and natural ways to boost your intake. Adding magnesium bath salts to your routine is another enjoyable way to absorb this essential mineral through the skin, offering a relaxing method to enhance your magnesium levels.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487054/
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13760-019-01101-x
  3. https://journals.lww.com/ajg/abstract/2021/01000/senna_versus_magnesium_oxide_for_the_treatment_of.27.aspx
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5487054/


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