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Not All Magnesium Supplements Are Created Equal

Date: 16-10-2020

Written by Chantelle van der Weyden BPsych (Hons), AdvDip(Nat), AdvDip(NutMed)

Not all magnesium supplements are created equal. Poor quality magnesium supplements can lead to uncomfortable side effects such as cramping and loose bowels.

Magnesium is an essential cofactor required for hundreds of enzymatic processes within the body. It is involved in energy production, healthy mood and neurotransmitter production, blood sugar control, reproductive health, immune function, cardiovascular function and healthy muscle activity; so keeping levels nice and healthy is of utmost importance. Whilst it is possible to obtain magnesium through dietary intake, the typical western diet is unlikely to provide the amount required to maintain optimal levels. Recent research suggests that many of us are not reaching the current recommended daily intake of 300 to 420mg daily. It has also been suggested that this recommended amount is insufficient for optimal health and longevity and that many require an additional 300mg per day, for example, those who engage in high-intensity exercise, are chronically stressed or consume a less than desirable diet. As such, supplementation may be required.

When faced with a sea of magnesium supplements in your local health food store or online, many assume they are created equal. This, however, is not the case! While the cheapest supplement may seem appealing at first, it is important to remember that the most expensive supplement is the one that does not work! Arguably, the most important aspect to consider when supplementing with magnesium is not the cost, nor the amount of magnesium – it is the form!  

With so many magnesium supplements available it can be difficult to know what type is best. The following are some of the common forms you may come across.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate is magnesium bound to citrate. Citrate is a large molecule that is easily carried into the gastrointestinal tract, where it becomes unbound thus allowing for effective and efficient absorption of magnesium into the bloodstream.

Magnesium Glycinate/amino acid chelate

Magnesium glycinate is magnesium bound to the protein molecule glycine. Considered a more gentle option, magnesium glycinate is well absorbed and well-tolerated. Glycine has a calming effect itself and may enhance the natural calming effect of magnesium.

Magnesium Oxide  

Magnesium oxide is an inorganic magnesium salt, and is one of the least absorbed forms. The oxide molecule is small, therefore allowing for a greater amount of magnesium per dose. However, oxide is absorbed slowly within the gut and has a water-attracting effect in the colon, giving it a strong laxative effect.

Numerous studies indicate that the organic forms of magnesium such as citrate and glycinate are absorbed more efficiently in the digestive tract and are more bioavailable (meaning more magnesium reaches systemic circulation and is therefore usable by the body) when compared to inorganic salts.

While there are many forms of magnesium available, BioMedica as The Practitioner Company prefer forms like magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate. As well as having greater absorbability and tolerability, these forms have been shown to have a therapeutic effect on various body systems and to support general health and wellbeing. 

If you have questions about what form of magnesium is right for you to reach out to your natural health practitioner.