A GUIDE TO MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTATION
Let’s be honest - buying supplements is confusing.
It feels like there’s 1000 different brands out there, all claiming to be the right one for you, with prices that fluctuate wildly.
One of the supplements that most people think they can’t get wrong is magnesium - I mean it’s just magnesium right, surely they’re all the same? Unfortunately not.
There are many different forms of magnesium out there - some are good for your muscles, some are good for your nervous system, some are good for the cardiovascular system, some are good for sleep - and some are better when used topically.
Firstly - it’s important to understand how magnesium supplements work. All magnesium supplements contain more than just magnesium. In addition to the magnesium, they will be bound to another substance. For instance magnesium bound to citric acid is known as magnesium citrate, magnesium bound to glycine is known as magnesium glycinate (or bisglycinate or diglycinate), magnesium bound to orotic acid is known as magnesium orotate.
It’s important to know this, as many magnesium supplements will make claims such as ‘SUPER HIGH STRENGTH - 1,000mg per capsule’, but the 1000mg they refer to is usually a combination of the magnesium AND the substance they are bound to, so of the 1000mg, in actual fact only 300mg or less might be magnesium. The number you need to pay attention to is the ‘equiv magnesium’ number - that’s how much actual magnesium you are getting in your supplement.
An example of this is this ingredient list from a popular magnesium supplement:
IngredientsEach film coated tablet contains: magnesium amino acid chelate 1g (1000mg) equiv. to magnesium 200mg
This difference in numbers doesn’t mean they are bad supplements - the magnesium must be bound to something, just make sure when comparing labels that you are aware how much of it is actually magnesium.
So what forms of magnesium should you be looking for? Let’s run through some of the forms most commonly found in Australian supplements to help you decide which one might be the right one for you
Magnesium Oxide - one of the most common forms found in the cheaper brands. It has poor absorption and it’s only real benefit is as a laxative.
Magnesium Citrate - one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium meaning it has great absorption. It is a great all rounder, and is our go to magnesium for the muscles. It is also great for the nervous system in times of stress and can help with mild constipation. This form of magnesium is thought to absorb best when taken away from food.
Magnesium Glycinate -(also called bisglycinate or diglycinate) - another well absorbed form of magnesium. The addition of glycine makes it a great calming magnesium best suited for anxiety and stress disorders, as well as for helping to promote sleep. This is also the form least likely to cause irritation to the bowel.
Magnesium Orotate - this form of magnesium is most popular with athletes, or people with very physically active lifestyles. The orotic acid allows this magnesium to aid in removal of lactic acid, which can improve muscle recovery times.
Magnesium Threonate - another highly bioavailable form of magnesium which is best known for it’s ability to cross the blood brain barrier. This makes it a great choice for cognitive, mood and stress disorders
Magnesium Chloride - not the best choice for internal use, but excellent topically. It can be purchased as flakes to add to the bath, or is also used in many topical magnesium creams or oils. Compared to magnesium sulfate, it has superior absorption
Magnesium Sulfate - also known as epsom salts. Great as an addition to the bath, or for a foot soak, however it is not as well absorbed as magnesium chloride and is more rapidly excreted meaning effects will be shorter lived.
Magnesium is such an important mineral - it’s involved in over 300 biochemical directions in our body, so getting the right supplement for you and your own needs can make a big difference to how you feel. Hopefully this guide will help you choose the right one for you next time you’re stocking up
If you would like to discuss your health concerns with one of our Naturopathic team, you can book an appointment here
Naturopath & Nutritionist
The Natural Health & Wellness Clinc
12 Eramosa Road East, Somerville
(03) 5977 7342
*If you have any concerns about whether magnesium is the right supplement for you, please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner.
**References available on request