Meet one of your body’s busiest minerals. Magnesium is a multitasker with a lot of important jobs. This vital mineral drives more than 600 important chemical reactions in your body, helping you control your blood sugar and blood pressure, process protein, feel more energized, sleep better, and protect how your muscles and nerves work.
However, the gut only absorbs about 30% of the magnesium in your diet. As you age, you absorb even less, and your kidneys remove more. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 50% of adults in the U.S. don’t get enough magnesium.
That’s exactly why supplementing can support you. But which type of magnesium supplement is best? Some experts swear by magnesium citrate, while studies show magnesium malate can raise your levels faster and keep them optimized for longer. There’s also plenty of research around magnesium lactate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate, and magnesium chloride. That’s a lot of options, so we’re here to take the guesswork out of it.
We’ll look at the science below and break down everything you need to know, so you can choose the best magnesium supplement to optimize your health.
Show up at your healthiest from head to toe. Magnesium activates more than 600 enzymatic processes in the body, supporting whole body health, including heart, muscle, brain, and bone function. Lifeforce Magnesium features a comprehensive blend of the highest quality and most bioavailable forms of magnesium, including Magtein® and TauroMag®. This unique formula also includes Magnolia officinalis extract to help support a calm, healthy stress response.
Magnesium Types Chart
The chart below shows the different types of magnesium, including the different compounds, delivery methods, and what each one is best for.
Why Are There Different Types of Magnesium Supplements?
Laboratories mix magnesium with other ingredients (such as calcium or lactic acid) to treat specific health conditions such as constipation, sleep disorders, or depression, or to support heart health or correct deficiencies. Magnesium supplements also come in different delivery forms and dosages.
Some types of magnesium are better for reaching certain health goals, or for managing specific symptoms.
Pro Tip: Spinach is an excellent dietary source of magnesium, but should you cook it, or eat it raw? See our article on How Magnesium Can Level Up Your Life.
The Best Types of Magnesium to Correct Deficiency
There are some magnesium supplements that can help raise your body’s levels, because they’re easier to absorb. If your physician diagnoses low magnesium, one of these may help give you back your energy, help you manage your blood sugar, reduce stress, and enhance your sleep.
#1: Magnesium Lactate
This organic magnesium compound combines magnesium with lactic acid in a form the body can absorb more easily. It’s often delivered in a fruit-flavored drink, adding 25 mg to your daily intake. If you take magnesium lactate, avoid high-fat meals, which can reduce the amount of magnesium your body can access.
#2: Magnesium Malate
Magnesium malate is a compound of magnesium and malic acid. In animal studies, a 400 mg dose increased levels faster than several other types of magnesium supplements. Plus, the magnesium stayed in the bloodstream for several hours. While animal studies don’t directly translate to humans, this research does suggest magnesium malate may be an effective way to correct deficiencies.
#3: Lifeforce Magnesium
Lifeforce Magnesium combines four types of magnesium to provide comprehensive support around mood, muscle function, and whole body health:
Magtein® (Magnesium L-Threonate): 1000 mg
Magnesium bisglycinate chelate: 1000 mg
ATA Mg® (Magnesium N-acetyltaurinate): 385 mg
DiMagnesium malate: 225 mg
Magnesium supports hundreds of processes in the body, so its list of perks is long. Here are just a few:
Helps regulate blood sugar
Supports bone health
May improve sleep
Moderates blood pressure
May reduce stress
May help with depression and anxiety
May reduce the frequency of migraines
Supports heart health
Prevents muscle cramps
The Best Magnesium Types for Specific Health Conditions
Some forms of magnesium are specifically formulated to relieve the symptoms of certain health conditions. For example, magnesium citrate is best for alleviating constipation, while magnesium chloride may help manage the symptoms of depression. Let’s break it down:
Magnesium citrate is the best type of magnesium to manage constipation. It’s known as an osmotic laxative, meaning that it draws water into the gut to loosen stool. It’s also effective in treating the symptoms of depression and restless legs syndrome.
This well-tolerated supplement combines magnesium with an amino acid called glycine. One study of people who received bariatric surgery — which affects the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients — found that a 400 mg dose of magnesium glycinate increased magnesium levels in the blood, without significant side effects and without loosening the bowels.
Magnesium glycinate may also help people fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and reduce the sleep-disturbing effects of restless legs syndrome (RLS).
This compound of magnesium has shown heart-protective effects in several studies. One 24-week study of 52 men who were overweight or obese found that it reduced arterial stiffness. While it doesn’t treat active heart issues, magnesium taurate may be the best type of magnesium to protect your heart health.
This compound combines magnesium and chlorine. It’s among the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, and it may help supplement low magnesium levels. Magnesium chloride may also help people with depression. A 2017 randomized controlled trial found that four daily 500 mg magnesium chloride tablets helped relieve depression symptoms in 126 adults.
Types of Magnesium to Avoid
Not all magnesium supplements are created equal when it comes to quality, bioavailabilty, and more.
This is an inorganic compound that’s not especially good at supplementing low magnesium. In one study, magnesium oxide ranked lowest for easy absorption among 15 different magnesium formulations. In the past, it was often used as a tablet for easing constipation. However, newer formulations like magnesium citrate have been proven to be far more bioavailable.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved oral and injectable magnesium sulfate supplements to treat constipation and other conditions. However, consistently high doses can risk raising your magnesium levels too high (a condition called hypermagnesemia). Symptoms include low blood pressure, weakness, irregular heartbeat, and loss of reflexes. Fatal reactions to a magnesium overdose have also been recorded.
How to Choose a Magnesium Supplement
The best form of magnesium is the one that fits your particular nutritional and medical needs. The first step is to know your levels. Magnesium is one of the 40+ biomarkers that the Lifeforce Diagnostic tests for.
After your at-home blood test, you’ll receive a comprehensive diagnostic report where you’ll learn your levels. Then, you’ll have a telehealth consult with a Lifeforce clinician, who can recommend an action plan to optimize your magnesium. This may also include diet and lifestyle shifts and supplementation.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need Every Day?
Here is the Recommended Daily Intake for magnesium:
For men: 400 - 420 mg
For women: 310 - 320 mg
During pregnancy: 350 - 360 mg
An upper limit of 350 mg also applies to magnesium supplement use. Consuming more than this from supplements might lead to hypermagnesemia symptoms, including nausea, diarrhea, and cramps. However, excess magnesium from the diet doesn’t have the same effect, as your kidneys get rid of it in urine.
What happens if you don’t get enough magnesium?
Magnesium deficiency doesn’t always cause symptoms. However, given magnesium’s vital role in hundreds of processes, a deficiency may lead to:
A higher risk of cardiovascular disease, weak bones, and metabolic conditions like diabetes
Abnormal eye movements
Calcium and vitamin D imbalance
Muscle weakness, spasms, and cramps
Taking supplementary magnesium can help optimize your levels.
Food Sources of Magnesium
A balanced nutrient intake starts with what’s on your plate. The most magnesium-rich foods include:
Why You Might Not Get Enough Magnesium (And Why Supplements Matter)
Your diet isn’t the whole story when it comes to magnesium intake. Easily absorbable supplements are vital for rebalancing your magnesium levels. You might not get enough magnesium because:
Modern food processing methods are reducing the amount of magnesium in foods, and most supermarket foods are processed. Even home cooking methods like boiling can reduce the magnesium content of fresh produce.
Environmental factors like climate change have reduced the amount of magnesium in soil for plants to absorb.
Other common deficiencies — in vitamin D for example — can affect how your body absorbs magnesium. Some medications like antacids, antibiotics, and blood pressure meds can also affect magnesium absorption.
Aging can lower your magnesium levels due to poor absorption, consuming less in your diet, and losing more magnesium in the urine due to reduced kidney function.
Other factors affecting magnesium levels in your blood include:
Urinating too often
Regular alcohol use
Large burns on the skin
Excess aldosterone (an adrenal hormone) in the blood
Sweating too much
There’s another essential supplement that can increase your energy levels. See our article: 10 Vitamins to Boost Energy and Beat Fatigue
Magnesium supplements come in many forms, compounds, and doses. Different kinds of magnesium play different roles. Some can help manage deficiency, while others can soothe constipation and heartburn, and help you sleep better.
While you can get plenty of magnesium from the diet, supplements can be easier for your body to absorb, making them a vital ally in the fight against deficiency.
Speak with a physician before using magnesium to balance levels or treat an active health problem.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This article has been medically reviewed by Alex Antoniou, MD, ABNM Board Certified in Nuclear Medicine.