Magnesium plays many roles in health maintenance, as it activates over 300 different enzymes that are essential to many functions of the body, including protein synthesis, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.* It is essential for energy production and the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and amino acids.* It supports healthy teeth, promotes calcium absorption, and contributes to the structural development of bone.* Magnesium is involved in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is critical to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.* It also helps to maintain normal mood and emotional well-being premenstrually.*
Unsurprisingly, chronically low magnesium levels in the body have been linked to a wide range of health problems, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches.*
For these reasons, a growing number of people are taking supplements to ensure adequate intake of this vital nutrient. With various types of magnesium supplements to choose from, it can be hard to know what type is best.
However, it is important to keep in mind that no matter the specific type of magnesium taken, they all share the same overall physical benefits. This comparison will outline the different types of magnesium supplements, focusing on their differences in absorption, elemental amount, and molecular size.
Dietary surveys consistently show that the majority of Americans consume less than the recommended amount of magnesium from food, which varies by gender and age (1). This shortfall is likely due to a diet high in processed foods, as well as widespread soil mineral depletion.
Magnesium citrate is one of the most popular and easily absorbed magnesium supplements. In this form, magnesium is bound to citric acid, a large molecule, so there is a smaller amount of elemental magnesium per capsule. Because citric acid is a mild laxative, magnesium citrate is a great choice for individuals with occasional constipation.*
Magnesium oxide is one of the least absorbed forms, but because the oxide molecule is small and compact, it delivers one of the highest percentages of elemental magnesium per dose, making it an effective choice for someone who wants to take as few capsules as possible.*Because it is not as quickly absorbed in the intestine, magnesium oxide has more osmotic (water-attracting) effects in the colon, providing support for those with occasional constipation.*
Magnesium glycinate is a gentle form for individuals who are sensitive to magnesium oxide or citrate, as it is less likely to cause a laxative effect.* In this form, magnesium is bound to glycine, a non-essential amino acid involved in protein synthesis and transmission of chemical signals in the brain.* Glycine is considered a relaxing neurotransmitter and may enhance magnesium’s natural calming properties.* This could be one of the best types for those who want to promote mental calm, relaxation and good quality sleep.*
Another gentle form for those sensitive to magnesium oxide or citrate is magnesium malate.* It is often recommended for people suffering from fatigue and symptoms of fibromyalgia since malic acid - a natural fruit acid present in most cells in the body - plays a key role in ATP synthesis and energy production.*
In summary, choosing the appropriate form of magnesium is a balance between the desired dose of elemental magnesium, how many capsules the individual is comfortable taking, and understanding any wanted or unwanted effects the mineral may have on the digestive system.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.