Why Are There So Many Types Of Magnesium?
Magnesium has been getting a lot of attention recently.
From helping reduce symptoms of anxiety and helping you sleep better, to better supporting the absorption of other key minerals like calcium.
Magnesium is absorbed in the gut – the small intestine specifically – and is stored in your bone minerals. Excess magnesium doesn’t build up like iron and is excreted by the kidneys1.
Since the GI system plays a big role in how magnesium is absorbed, combined with the rise of digestive issues, impaired microbiomes, and lower than optimal bacteria colonizing in the gut, it’s no surprise two-thirds of the population are magnesium deficient 2.
Low levels are also linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a higher incidence of things like depression and migraines.
Thankfully, given magnesium’s new popularity, supplements are readily available. Remember, before taking or recommending a new supplement, you should always consult with your primary care physician. Interactions between food and supplements although rare, can happen, and it’s important for one’s medical history to be assessed before a new supplement is incorporated into a health routine.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TYPES OF MAGNESIUM
The challenge is knowing which type of magnesium to choose. There are so many to choose from, so if anxiety relief is your goal, is it oxide or citrate? For more regular bowel movements, should you choose magnesium sulfate or taurine?
We’ve compiled some of the most common – and a few not so common – types of magnesium available. Remember, an informed coach is a successful coach.
Keep this guide handy, and feel free to share it with your clients, too.
Magnesium Oxide is a combination of magnesium and oxygen and is the primary ingredient in milk of magnesia, which is typically prescribed to alleviate constipation and mild acid reflux. This type of magnesium is absorbed poorly by your GI tract and should not be used to treat deficiencies.
Magnesium citrate is a type of magnesium that’s bound with citric acid and is one of the more common types available. Magnesium citrate has the highest absorption rate of all types of magnesium and is very effective in treating deficiencies.
It can also be used to treat constipation, though higher doses should always be approved by a primary care physician. Magnesium citrate is also thought to have calming effects and help ease symptoms of anxiety.
Magnesium sulfate is a compound made from a combination of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen which you’re probably more familiar with than you think, since this is what Epson salts are made from!
Magnesium sulfate can be dissolved into water to help ease joint and muscle pain and alleviate stress. Magnesium sulfate does not absorb well through the skin, so actual deficiencies should be addressed in alternative ways.
Magnesium Orotate is less common but still has some pretty significant uses. It has a high absorbability rate which is good news, but it lacks the same laxative effect that makes other types of magnesium great options for relieving constipation.
It’s popular with professional athletes since orotic acid, the primary ingredient, is a key component in the synthesis of glycogen and ATP, your body’s main energy production pathways.
Magnesium glycinate is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid, glycine and is said to be effective in reducing inflammation, which can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is also the best type of magnesium for overcoming sleep issues due to it’s calming effects.
As a result, magnesium glycinate may also be effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
Magnesium lactate is a combination of magnesium and lactic acid, which is produced naturally during healthy muscle contractions. You might be familiar with the term from food packaging since it’s commonly used as a food additive and stabilizer.
Sadly, it isn’t used in sufficient amounts to reap the benefits magnesium is known for. As a supplement, it is easily absorbed, so it’s a great way to support deficiencies. Although increasing your supplement dosage should always be approved by a primary care physician, magnesium lactate may be gentler on the digestive system than other types, which is beneficial for those who have been prescribed large daily doses or those who have sensitive GI systems.
Magnesium malate contains malic acid, which, like magnesium lactate, is commonly used as a food additive. This type of magnesium has a high bioavailability (meaning it absorbs well) which is another great option for those who need extra magnesium to overcome deficiencies.
Although research is currently limited, magnesium malate is being experimented with as a supplement to ease chronic fatigue and the pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Magnesium taurine is a combination of magnesium and the amino acid, taurine. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to insulin resistance, so it’s no surprise magnesium taurine may support optimal blood sugar. It may also be supportive in keeping blood pressure in an optimal range. The research is limited, which makes magnesium taurine less popular but good to keep on your radar when thinking which type of magnesium may be best suited to you and your clients.
HOW MUCH MAGNESIUM DO YOU NEED?
The National Institute of Health recommends men should consume 400-420 mg of magnesium daily. Women should aim for 310-320 mg and pregnant women usually benefit from a higher dose, as prescribed by their primary care physician.
A word of caution though, recommendations are set as guidance for the majority of the population, so it’s possible you may need more or less, depending on your individual needs. If you want to learn more about tailored health benefits, we talked about personalized nutrition recently on the blog.
If you think you may be deficient, it’s a good idea to speak to your primary care physician about running lab tests to get a full picture before buying a supplement.
Finally, remember the food first mentality! Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach, nuts, legumes, whole grains and best of all, dark chocolate, are all excellent food sources of magnesium. Make sure you’re looking at your plate – or your client’s plate – before recommending a supplement.