More Magnesium -- Are Any Other Forms a Good Choice?

Whoa!

We hit a rich vein when we wrote about magnesium last week. (I’m trying to use a mining metaphor… because we’re talking about a mineral… eh? No good?) Anyway…

Readers weighed in… asked questions… and demanded answers… so we’re back to make this whole magnesium thing a little less murky.

There are so many different forms because “pure magnesium” isn’t available — it has to be attached to something. It can be attached to a salt or chelated (attached) to an amino acid.

If your magnesium product doesn’t list the form it’s in, then they haven’t properly labeled the product.

So let’s get started.

Magnesium Oxide/Citrate Combos: The issue with magnesium combo products is that you can’t know exactly how much of each form you’re getting. Out of a 300 mg dose of magnesium, it could be 290 mg oxide and 10 mg citrate. You don’t necessarily have to toss this product, but once you run out, I’d switch to a different brand with no oxide form.

Laxative Effect of the Citrate Form: Some readers commented that the citrate form can have a laxative effect, which is true.

The cool thing about this is that it gives you a good way to judge how much magnesium you need. Once you experience a laxative effect, you know you’ve reached your threshold and should reduce your dose a bit.

(Nate Rifkin: Sounds like a plan! I’ll find out!)

Keep us posted, Nate! Or… wait. Don’t. Anyway…

If the citrate form gives you any sort of stomach discomfort, I’d try one of the other forms of magnesium below.

Magnesium L-Threonate: This is a newer form of magnesium that may have potential brain benefits. A couple animal studies show it enhances memory and learning by increasing the density of synapses in the brain.

Though I couldn’t get the full to study to verify this, according to Life Extension magazine, mag L-threonate was shown in a rat study to boost brain magnesium by about 15%, which none of the other forms of magnesium tested could do.

If you’re looking for a potential brain-booster, there’s no harm in trying this form.

Magnesium Malate: This is magnesium combined with malic acid. One rat study showed this form to be more effective at reversing a magnesium deficit compared with other forms.

In theory, it may help boost energy, because malic acid is involved in energy production. Two studies have shown a combination of magnesium and malic acid to help reduce muscle tenderness in fibromyalgia sufferers.

Magnesium Taurate: This is magnesium chelated to taurine. Taurine has shown blood pressure-lowering and anti-atherosclerotic (anti- hardening of the arteries) effects, so this form is worth trying if you have cardiovascular concerns.

Magnesium Glycinate: One study has shown this form to be better absorbed than mag oxide, at least in some people. I didn’t find many studies on this form in PubMed, but it’s anecdotally touted to be one gentler forms of magnesium.

Topical Magnesium/Magnesium Chloride: Mag chloride is commonly found in topical magnesium products. If you’ve ever taken an Epsom salt bath, you’ve experienced the benefits of topical magnesium.

There aren’t a whole lot of studies out there on topical magnesium, but if you have a sensitive stomach, this is worth a try.

For pill forms of mag chloride, one human study showed it to be better absorbed than mag oxide, and on par with mag aspartate and mag lactate, two other absorbable forms of magnesium.

Magnesium Stearate: This is actually a common “filler” in many supplements because it helps the other ingredients blend together better. It doesn’t give you any measurable dose of magnesium that’s going to have a beneficial effect.

There’s some debate as to whether this ingredient is safe, and I’ve read opposing viewpoints on it. If you can find products without it, that’s great, but I’m not yet convinced it’s harmful in the amounts common in most supplements.

***

To summarize, any form of magnesium other than mag oxide (and mag stearate) is a good option. If you have a specific health concern you’re trying to address, one of the above options might be a better choice than others.

The important thing is to find a form that works best for you and to take it consistently.

I personally take the mag citrate form, and it has completely eliminated the painful leg and foot cramps I used to get at night. It’s relatively inexpensive compared with some of the other forms out there, so it’s good form to start with and see if it works for you.

To living well daily,

Jasmine LeMaster
Health Researcher

Sources:

Novel Magnesium Compound Reverses Neurodegeneration Life Extension Magazine. Feb 2012.

Abraham, G. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. J Nutr. and Environmental Medicine. 1992 Vol. 3, No. 1 , Pages 49-59.

Russell I.J. et al. Treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome with Super Malic: a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, crossover pilot study. J Rheumatol. 1995 May;22(5):953-8.

Schuette S.A. et al. Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1994 Sep-Oct;18(5):430-5.

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