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Last week we discovered the important role magnesium plays in so many functions of the body. It is well known to be beneficial for blood sugar regulation, the nervous system, digestion, and blood pressure. However, there are several different forms of magnesium, and each one brings its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Wondering which one would be right for you? Check out the summaries of each type below, along with their corresponding resources to get an idea of where to start!

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide is a salt most commonly used to address constipation and low magnesium levels. It may also help prevent and ease migraines, heartburn, and indigestion. Although it is considered safe, it may cause diarrhea or stomach ache, so it is best to take it with food. Those with kidney problems should use magnesium oxide with caution. Magnesium oxide is also more difficult for the body to absorb than many other common forms of magnesium, so it may not be your first choice of supplement, depending on your needs.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate has been used for many of the same benefits provided by other forms of magnesium, including relieving constipation, regulating blood sugar and blood pressure, muscle and nerve support, and bone strength. Its strong laxative effect makes it useful in cleaning out the colon before a colonoscopy or surgery.

Magnesium Carbonate

Magnesium carbonate is insoluble in water and not great for a daily supplement. However, it is often used in over-the-counter antacids to treat and prevent heartburn and upset stomach. It is also used in fertilizer.

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that is very commonly used as a supplement. The amino acid, glycine, combines with the magnesium to produce a strong calming effect. For this reason, it is particularly good for addressing sleep issues, as well as depression, anxiety, and other mood problems. It may also be good for reducing PMS, improving exercise performance, and reducing pain. Generally, fewer side effects are reported using magnesium glycinate compared to other forms of magnesium, such as diarrhea or upset stomach.

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium malate is made of magnesium and malic acid. This combination makes it especially effective at boosting energy production, improving exercise performance, reducing muscle pain, and increasing iron absorption. It is easily assimilated in the body, making it less likely to cause adverse side effects like diarrhea.

Magnesium Taurate

Magnesium taurate is made of magnesium and the amino acid, taurine. Animal studies have shown this form of magnesium may be helpful for those with hypertension, cataracts, anxiety, and blood sugar issues. It may also be supportive in the recovery from a traumatic brain injury and overall brain health.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is a highly bioavailable form of magnesium that is effective at treating magnesium deficiency. Like other forms of magnesium, it is great for promoting relaxation and improved sleep, boosting energy production, and alleviating depression. In addition to oral supplementation, this form is found in topical products like lotions and ointments, making it accessible to those who are averse to swallowing pills. 

Magnesium Lactate

Magnesium lactate is magnesium bound to lactic acid, which is naturally made by the muscles and blood. This form is used to regulate acidity as a food additive, but is less common as a supplement. However, as a supplement, it is gentler on the stomach and has been shown to be a viable option for those who need high-dose magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium L-threonate

Magnesium L-threonate combines magnesium with threonic acid, which is a by-product of vitamin C metabolism. This form of magnesium seems to be more effective than others at crossing the blood brain barrier. This makes it great for all things brain, including memory, focus, learning, attention, information processing, and more. It also may protect the brain from the effects of aging as well as improve mental health. It is highly absorbable, thus reducing the likelihood of adverse effects. 

Magnesium Sulfate

You may know this one better by the name “Epsom Salt.” Have you ever soaked in an epsom salt bath? It was magnesium sulfate you were enjoying. It’s great for increasing magnesium levels in the blood, relaxing the muscles, and relieving constipation. Magnesium sulfate is administered intravenously to pregnant women with pre-eclampsia to prevent seizures. It also supports respiratory health and decreases water retention.

Magnesium Orotate

Magnesium orotate is another readily bioavailable form that combines magnesium with orotic acid. It has shown to be effective in cases of congestive heart failure. It seems to play an important role in restoring health in those who have a combination of gut dysbiosis and psychiatric disorders, but further research is warranted.

As you can see, magnesium comes in many different forms, each with their own strengths. It may be beneficial to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your particular situation and desires when deciding which one to try.

Of course, if you’re like me, you may want to try real food first! Consider adding extra servings of the following to naturally boost your magnesium intake:

  • Legumes, like black beans and edamame.
  • Nuts, such as cashews, peanuts, and almonds.
  • Vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach and kale.
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal and whole wheat.
  • Even dark chocolate has magnesium!

If you have a favorite food source or supplemental magnesium, I’d love to hear about it!

About the author

Hey! My name is Brittan and I live in Utah with my husband and one adorable toddler. I love finding holistic and natural ways to care for myself and my family. I particularly enjoy learning about nutrition, herbal medicine, the emotional, spiritual, and energetic aspects of health, and anything else that contributes to complete wellness. Thanks for joining me!

I am not a doctor. Everything I write about is from my personal experience and perspective. Consult a physician if you have questions specific to your health.

One Comment

  • Sherri Collins says:

    Hello,
    Magnesium is often used for leg and foot cramps, also RLS. Which magnesium works best in this case?

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