Your body needs magnesium to function properly — but what if you don’t get enough magnesium from diet alone?
The majority of Canadians don’t get enough magnesium from their diet, and some medications and lifestyle factors can actually deplete magnesium, so many people seek out magnesium supplements to make sure they are maintaining sufficient levels of this crucial nutrient.
But there are a large variety of different types of magnesium on the market, and sorting through them can be challenging.
This article gives you the facts on 7 types of magnesium that you’ll find most commonly online or in your local drugstore, including what each one is most commonly used for.
Magnesium citrate, an over-the-counter supplement typically made with a combination of magnesium carbonate (an “organic magnesium salt”) and citric acid, is one of the most bioavailable magnesium supplements. It’s easy for your digestive system to absorb.
Why the magnesium carbonate in magnesium citrate? When the magnesium carbonate and citric acid combine in water, the magnesium converts to magnesium citrate.
Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet, says magnesium citrate is “commonly used as a supplement to address low levels of magnesium” and notes that it can also be used to get your bowels moving and relieve occasional constipation.
People also take magnesium citrate to relieve anxiety, other symptoms of stress, sleeplessness, and various types of pain, including muscle and nerve pain.
Natural Calm® magnesium citrate powder is a gentle powdered supplement that dissolves in hot or cold liquid to create a delicious fizzy beverage.
Magnesium taurate is magnesium combined with taurine, an amino acid.
Magnesium taurate could also support healthy blood pressure. In a 2018 study in the Journal and Traditional and Complementary Medicine, researchers shared that they administered magnesium taurate to hypertensive rats and monitored their blood pressure for four weeks. The researchers said:
“The results suggest that magnesium taurate has prominent antihypertensive and cardioprotective activity via its potent antioxidant activity and can be used as a nutrition supplement to improve the cardiovascular health.”
Physicians can also use magnesium taurate to treat preeclampsia and eclampsia, which are pregnancy-related conditions that involve dangerously high blood pressure.
Preeclampsia develops around the 20th week of pregnancy and can cause a number of serious health problems, including impaired kidney and liver function. If untreated, preeclampsia and eclampsia can lead to death, so it needs to be treated immediately.
Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt, is formed by combining sulphur, magnesium, and oxygen. This supplement is white and has a texture similar to table salt.
You can consume magnesium sulfate orally as a treatment for constipation, but it has an unpleasant taste, so most people choose alternative forms of magnesium to deal with digestive issues.
You can also dissolve Epsom salt into a bath to help soothe sore muscles or aches and pains. Don’t worry about absorbing magnesium through your bath water, though — there is little evidence to suggest that you can increase your serum magnesium levels by absorbing magnesium through your skin.
Magnesium oxide is a form of magnesium that combines magnesium and oxygen. It forms a white, powdery substance and may be sold over the counter in capsule or tablet form. Like many other types of magnesium, it is (technically speaking) an organic magnesium salt.
This type of magnesium isn’t typically used to treat magnesium deficiencies, however, due to the fact that it’s poorly absorbed by your digestive tract.
A magnesium oxide supplement can reduce stomach acid, however — so you can use it to provide short-term relief of digestive symptoms like indigestion, heartburn, or constipation. Some studies indicate it may also be helpful in treating migraine headaches.
Magnesium chloride is another one of the types of magnesium known as an organic magnesium salt. It includes a molecule of chlorine that binds well with other elements to form salts.
Because magnesium chloride is easily absorbed by your digestive system, it makes a great overall supplement for people who need to treat magnesium deficiency, heartburn, or constipation.
Some people also use magnesium chloride topically in lotions or creams, to soothe sore or tight muscles.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Integrative Medicine reported that transdermal magnesium chloride, administered to the limbs of fibromyalgia patients using a spray bottle, improved pain levels and quality of life scores for the patients.
Researchers concluded, “This pilot study suggests that transdermal magnesium chloride applied on upper and lower limbs may be beneficial to patients with fibromyalgia.”
Magnesium glycinate, formed from a combination of magnesium and the amino acid glycine, is what’s known as a magnesium chelate. Magnesium glycinate is one of the most popular types of magnesium supplements because it is gentle on the stomach and is easily absorbed by the digestive system. (Although, it may not be absorbed as well as magnesium citrate.)
Taking glycine can help promote deep and restorative sleep, so this supplement may help if you are struggling with insomnia, early wakings, or poor quality sleep. You can also use magnesium glycinate as an overall supplement to treat magnesium deficiency, acid indigestion, or constipation.
Magnesium lactate, a salt that forms when magnesium binds with lactic acid, can be taken as an over-the-counter dietary supplement. More commonly, it shows up as an additive that reduces acidity in food formulations.
Our bodies absorb magnesium lactate very easily, so this supplement might be used by individuals with specific medical nutrition therapy needs that require large doses of magnesium. You should only undertake this type of high-dose therapy under the supervision of a health care practitioner.
For example, in a 2017 study in the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, researchers gave slow-release magnesium lactate to a group of patients with Gitelman syndrome, a rare inherited kidney disease associated with renal potassium and magnesium loss. Gitelman syndrome requires lifelong potassium and magnesium supplementation at high doses, a treatment which often leads to gastrointestinal upset.
In the study, 68% of the participants who received slow-release magnesium lactate reported that their symptoms improved, and 59% stated they had fewer side effects from the medication. Serum blood levels of both magnesium and potassium improved on the magnesium lactate regimen.
Should You Take a Magnesium Supplement?
Magnesium plays a vital role in human health. Low levels of this critical macronutrient are linked with health issues like:
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Heart Palpitations
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Congestive heart failure
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Heart Disease
- Kidney stones
- Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
Maintaining sufficient levels of magnesium can help you:
- Keep your teeth and bones strong
- Keep your mood level
- Reduce your risk of dying from coronary heart disease
- Stay physically active and fend off fatigue
- Regulate blood sugar
Low serum magnesium levels may cause the following symptoms:
- Brain fog or trouble concentrating
- Headaches or migraines
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Impaired memory or thinking
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Anger, irritability, or aggression
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Muscle cramps
If you have a magnesium deficiency, you can obtain more of this mineral from whole food sources, including nuts, beans, seeds, dark leafy greens, and some fish.
If you cannot source enough magnesium through diet alone, you may wish to consider taking a supplement. This is particularly true if you are a member of certain populations that are at greater risk of magnesium deficiency, including older adults, smokers, and people with digestive disorders, type 2 diabetes, or alcohol dependence.
Most adults need between 320 and 420 milligrams of magnesium every day, but your magnesium needs will be unique, and you may need a little more or less than average based on your diet, lifestyle, size, gender, and age.
If you are going to take a magnesium supplement, start with a dose at the lower end of the range, and gradually increase from there. Check out the chart at the bottom of this page to find the right dose of Natural Calm magnesium citrate, if that’s the type of magnesium that you choose.
Magnesium supplements are widely considered to be safe, but if you have an existing health condition, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before adding any dietary supplement to your daily routine.
Our disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most current information possible, but medications affect each person differently. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Before you start taking any medications or supplements, discuss any possible side effects or interactions with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
With So Many Types of Magnesium, What Type Do You Choose?
Magnesium has a wide range of benefits for health, so if you believe you’re not getting adequate levels of this mineral through food, consider taking a supplement. We’ve talked about several different types of magnesium in this post, including the potential clinical uses for each type.
Magnesium citrate is one of the most absorbable types of magnesium, and that’s why we use it in our Natural Calm® supplements. The magnesium in Natural Calm® is sourced from deep in the sea, and we combine it with natural citric acid from sugar beets to create a powder that dissolves easily in liquid.
Natural Calm® supplements contain no preservatives, artificial ingredients, or artificial sugar. Trusted for over 40 years, Natural Calm is a top-selling magnesium supplement in Canada and worldwide.
Visit our shop to find out how this magnesium supplement makes it easy and delicious to get enough magnesium.