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How To Choose A Magnesium Supplement

Filed Under: Ask The ND,Supplements at 9:18 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor

It’s estimated that nearly half of the U.S. population is consuming less than the recommended amount of magnesium in their diets. Why is magnesium so important you ask? Low levels of magnesium have been linked with migraine headaches, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease. This essential mineral is found throughout the body and acts as a cofactor for more than 300 different enzymes, meaning it is necessary for enzyme activity. It is involved in energy production, protein synthesis, cell signaling, muscle and nerve function, the release of neurotransmitters and even plays a structural role in the body. Roughly 60% of the magnesium in the body is found in our bones, 39% found in cells and 1% in our blood. Read below for some of the health benefits of magnesium as well as tips on what to look for when choosing a magnesium supplement.


Benefits To Consider

  • May help alleviate fatigue
  • Aids in the formation of healthy bones and teeth
  • Sleep aid
  • Aids in muscle relaxation
  • Anxiolytic
  • May alleviate constipation
  • Helps prevent kidney stones
  • Potential bronchodilator
  • Assists in oil pathways to produce essential fatty acids
  • May help with detoxification as it is needed for glutathione synthesis
  • Helps insulin to enter cells and enhances insulin receptor sensitivity
  • May help improve metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes


What To Look For On The Label

Any supplement label generally declares the amount of elemental magnesium in the product. However, because magnesium cannot be absorbed by itself, it must be bound to another substance to help stabilize it. The biggest difference in magnesium supplements isn’t the magnesium, rather the complex or complexes that it is bound to. Absorption of magnesium from different forms of supplements varies and some of the molecules or complexes that magnesium is bound to may have their own function in the body. Below are some of the most commonly used forms of magnesium:

  • Magnesium Glycinate
    This is one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium. This form may be more preferable as it is not likely to induce diarrhea and may have a calming effect on the body.
  • Magnesium Citrate
    This name is commonly used for magnesium which is bound to citric acid. This form has good bioavailability, meaning that it is absorbed easily, but may have a laxative effect.
  • Magnesium Aspartate
    In this form, magnesium is bound to aspartic acid, which has been reported to enhance the uptake of magnesium into cells. Commonly in the form of potassium magnesium aspartate (a combination of potassium and magnesium), aspartate can act as an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Magnesium Malate
    This form contains magnesium bound to malic acid. Malic acid can act as a substrate in production of cellular energy.
  • Magnesium Taurate
    Magnesium binds to taurine in this form. Taurine is an amino acid which may elicit a calming effect on the body.
  • Magnesium Orotate
    In this form, magnesium is bound to orotic acid, which has good bioavailability. Orotic acid may be used for improving athletic performance/endurance as well as supporting heart health.
  • Magnesium Oxide
    One of the most widely used magnesium preparations, magnesium oxide contains high amounts of elemental magnesium, which is well absorbed but may cause diarrhea or have laxative affect.
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
    Also known as “Milk of Magnesia,” this form is highly unabsorbable and may have a laxative effect.


Recommended Dietary Allowances For Magnesium

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Other Helpful Information

  • Magnesium is closely aligned with calcium and can be taken in a combined calcium/magnesium supplement.
  • Before taking a magnesium supplement it’s important to consider how much magnesium is contained in all your supplements.
  • Diarrhea is a common dose related side effect of magnesium supplementation. You may prevent this by either reducing the dose or spacing the dose throughout the day.
  • Forms of magnesium most commonly reported to cause diarrhea include magnesium chloride, carbonate, gluconate and oxide.
  • Epsom salt baths may be another way to increase your magnesium status.

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