Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals for our body. It plays a role in different biochemical reactions that’s responsible for over 300 interactions in your body.
Magnesium also has many physiological functions such as nerve and muscle function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure regulation. It also has profound benefits and roles for both heart and brain health.
That being said, everyone should ensure that they get their daily magnesium needs, including those who follow the ketogenic diet. It’s very common for people to be deficient when it comes to magnesium, as well as other minerals. This is partially due to a decline in the amount in our water, but also lifestyle habits as well.
If you are on a ketogenic diet, then making sure you have adequate amounts of magnesium in your body is crucial. This is one of the most commonly supplemented minerals used by people who are on a keto diet, and are aware that they may have a deficiency.
In this article, we are going to talk about the benefits of magnesium supplementation, the role of magnesium in the ketogenic diet, and the types of magnesium supplements, ranked from best to worst.
There are a variety of different types of magnesium to choose from, from magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium l-threonate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, and more.
If you’re trying to decide which one is perfect for your diet and lifestyle, you came to the right place.
Why Should You Take Magnesium Supplements?
Since we are talking about magnesium supplementation for the ketogenic diet, there are two main reasons why people who follow the diet must take magnesium supplements.
First, while magnesium is highly available in a wide variety of foods, the majority of foods that are rich in magnesium are also high in carbs – a very big “no” in the ketogenic diet and another low-carb diet. Second, many of our foods have lower nutrient value because the soil’s nutrient value (from where they get their nutrients) is also low due to modern farming practices. This means that you’ll not get the same amount of nutrients from the foods that you eat compared to what our ancestors get.
This being said, taking magnesium supplements can be a great way for you to meet your daily magnesium needs. Of course, the final decision on whether or not you should take supplements is best for you. The only matter here is to ensure that we get the amount of magnesium that we need daily.
There are a variety of magnesium supplements to choose from on the market. Whether you decide to take a powder supplement, a topical supplement, or even a supplement in pill form, there are pros and cons to each method.
Before you take a magnesium supplement, it’s important to know what works best for you! For instance, if you are looking for maximum absorption, then using a powder magnesium citrate supplement might be the best option. If you’re looking for a supplement to help specifically with muscle pains, using topical or bath salts like Epsom salt can be most beneficial for you.
Hopefully, this article helps guide you in the right direction, and you finish reading it confident in a magnesium supplement for you.
Common Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
Getting enough magnesium helps in keeping our overall health in optimal shape. However, not having enough magnesium does the opposite – it causes minor to major health issues depending on how low your magnesium level is.
This is more common than not, as more than 50% of the population deals with a magnesium deficiency. This is due to a variety of reasons, but luckily, we can supplement the lost mineral.
If you are wondering whether or not you are low in magnesium, here are some of the common symptoms of low magnesium level:
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness and general weakness
- Chronic fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
If you suspect that you have hypomagnesemia (low magnesium levels), consult your doctor so that you can be properly diagnosed and see if you are low in magnesium or potentially other health conditions. If you are on a ketogenic diet, it’s easy to dip in magnesium, as well as other electrolytes.
The reason for the loss in electrolytes comes from the lack of consumption of carbohydrates. This is because when you limit your carb intake, you will also experience a drop in insulin levels, which can have impacts on your body as well. For instance, you may experience mood swings, hunger swings, etc.
Insulin also helps your body retain sodium and other electrolytes, which decreases if you are on a ketogenic diet.
Which Magnesium is Best For Magnesium Deficiency?
If you find that you have a magnesium deficiency, then adding in magnesium rich foods to your diet and supplementation can be helpful. As mentioned, if you are on a ketogenic diet you may find it hard to find foods that are rich in magnesium, but also low in carbs. This is because most low carb foods are also low in magnesium.
This typically leads to supplementation instead of primarily getting magnesium through food. A good place to start is exploring the different types of magnesium that you can take. Some of the options include magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium l-threonate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, and more.
There are pros and cons to most types of supplements, but we will explain the pros and cons of these ones below.
One of the easiest ways to absorb magnesium is through magnesium citrate. This is a form of magnesium that is created by combining magnesium oxide with citric acid. This combination forms an ionic compound, a salt, that is both negatively and positively charged by magnesium and citrate ions. The magnesium ions are positive while the citrate ions are negatively charged. These ratios can form in 1:1, 3:2 or other ratios as well.
Magnesium citrate is often a choice of those on a ketogenic diet because it’s easy to take, readily absorbed by your bloodstream, and can even taste good.
Benefits of Magnesium on a Ketogenic Diet
As we pointed out above, magnesium plays a key role in our overall health. This means that magnesium is essential to our diet, regardless of the diet we follow. Here are some of the key roles of magnesium for our health:
- Maintaining proper muscle and nerve function
- Ensuring normal heart rate
- Supports our immune system
- Blood sugar regulation
- Blood pressure regulation
- Plays a role in DNA production
- Plays a role in our energy production
- Has positive and therapeutic effects on our mood
Aside from these roles and benefits, magnesium is also important – especially for low-carb diets such as the ketogenic diet – because it is one of our body’s electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that can conduct electricity. That being said, they are very essential in our muscle and nerve function – they bring the “impulse” to our nerves.
However, in the ketogenic diet, our electrolytes are drastically depleted due to water and mineral excretion as our body excretes excess glucose. This excretion of minerals (including magnesium) is one of the causes behind what is known as the “keto flu”, or a series of symptoms that one can experience after starting on the keto diet. Therefore, it is important to supplement our body with magnesium and other electrolytes – other minerals that act as electrolytes are potassium, calcium, sodium, and chloride.
If you are on a ketogenic diet, then supplementing with a variety of lost nutrients can be key – magnesium being one of the most important.
The Best To Worst Types of Magnesium
By this point, we have already talked about the importance of taking magnesium supplements when following the ketogenic diet. If you decide that magnesium supplementation is right for you, you must know that there are different types of magnesium – and more importantly, that some of them are good and some of them are not-so-good.
The reason why magnesium supplements have different types is that, by themselves, magnesium will not work properly in our bodies. They need an element or compound to combine with them for them to be effective in bringing their health benefits. It should be noted that each of the types has its own fitting, so be sure to know their “use” before buying and taking them. For instance, magnesium malate is good for dealing with fatigue while magnesium chloride is good if you are suffering from low acid levels in your stomach.
That being said, let us discuss the best and worst types of magnesium supplements. We will cover magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium l-threonate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, and more.
Best Types of Magnesium
1) Magnesium Citrate (A+)
Magnesium citrate is one of the most popular magnesium supplements on the market. It is formed when magnesium oxide is combined with citric acid. This is most commonly used in magnesium powders because it’s easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Magnesium citrate is most commonly used to support digestion regulation, muscle and nerve support, bone strength, and heart health.
We use magnesium citrate for our various powders at Calm. You can browse them here!
2) Magnesium L-Threonate (A)
Magnesium L-threonate is another common type of magnesium supplement. This type of magnesium supplement is mostly known for its benefits and impact on brain health.
Magnesium L-threonate can help in managing or reducing symptoms of brain-related problems such as depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Also, magnesium L-threonate is so far the only type of magnesium that significantly increases the levels of magnesium in our brain.
3) Magnesium Glycinate (B)
Magnesium glycinate is a type of magnesium that is made by combining magnesium and glycine, one of the amino acids. Magnesium glycinate is mostly known for its therapeutic effects. As such, magnesium glycinate can help in improving one’s mood, relieve anxiety, and support better sleep.
Aside from its relaxing effects, magnesium glycinate can also reduce nerve pain and improve the symptoms of leaky gut.
4) Magnesium Malate (B-)
Magnesium malate is one of the most preferred types of magnesium supplement if you want to improve your energy levels. Although only around 6.5% of magnesium can be found in this type, it can still be effective in improving one’s energy level. If you have trouble with chronic fatigue, magnesium malate can work for you as well.
Aside from magnesium, malic acid – the acid combined with magnesium in this type – also plays a role in improving our energy level since, on its own, its very role is in improving our body’s energy production and ATP synthesis.
5) Magnesium Sulfate (B-)
If you do not know about magnesium sulfate, you may know about its more popular name: Epsom salt.
Like magnesium citrate, Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate is also proved to be very effective in remedying constipation. However, it is considered that Epsom salt is not safe as a dietary supplement. On the good side, though, you can use Epsom salt for external home uses.
6) Magnesium Orotate (C+)
Magnesium orotate is very popular in the fitness and athletics world. This is because aside from improving one’s energy level, which can translate to better physical performance, magnesium orotate is also great for the heart. Aside from being good for the heart, magnesium orotate is also easily absorbable in our bodies.
If there is a downside to magnesium orotate, it’s its price – magnesium orotate is generally more expensive compared to other types of magnesium supplements. But perhaps, its benefits explain its premium price.
7) Magnesium Chloride (C)
Magnesium chloride is one of the most absorbable types of magnesium supplements in the body. Its main benefit is its ability to improve our kidney function and stimulate our metabolism. Aside from that, magnesium chloride is one of the best types if you want to detoxify your cells and tissues.
If you suffer from low acid levels in your stomach, magnesium chloride can help you as well because the chloride used in this type produces hydrochloric acid for your gut.
8) Magnesium Oxide (C-)
Some may praise magnesium oxide because it contains around 60% of magnesium. This has led to the conclusion that we can get a lot of magnesium from magnesium oxide. However, it turns out that it’s not.
Magnesium oxide is found to have low bioavailability and is poorly absorbed by our body. In fact, magnesium oxide is so poorly absorbed by our body that it is estimated that only around 4% of the magnesium is absorbed by our body. This means that the rest of the supplement is simply wasted.
Are There Any Side Effects When Taking Magnesium Supplements?
While different types of magnesium supplements can cause different side effects, generally, too much magnesium (from supplements) can cause side effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea. Therefore, you must take magnesium supplements in the proper dosage as recommended by the product label or by your doctor.
However, while too much magnesium from supplements can cause side effects, the same is generally not true when it comes to foods. In other words, an averagely healthy adult can consume as much magnesium as he or she wants from food sources.
Frequently Asked Questions About Magnesium and Keto?
Which type of magnesium is best?
If you are trying to pick out a type of magnesium, then it’s important to understand where you are coming from. If you are on a ketogenic diet, then choosing a magnesium supplement that is easily absorbed is key. Because of the loss of nutrients and minerals while on a ketogenic diet, it’s key to get in a good form of magnesium.
We recommend magnesium citrate as it comes in powder form and is readily absorbed by your bloodstream.
Should I supplement both magnesium and potassium on keto?
If you are on a ketogenic diet, then supplementing nutrients you may be missing out on is key. Magnesium is just one of the things you should supplement while on keto. Potassium, Vitamin D, Omega-3’s, digestive enzymes, and electrolytes are also key to take.
While it is important to have adequate levels of these things, it’s also important that you do not take too much. When you have mineral imbalances, you can face similar issues as if you didn’t have enough. That is why it is a fine line to walk with what you chose to supplement, and what you try to get from food.
We recommend chatting with your dietician, nutritionist, or even doctor before adding in that many supplements, but knowing what you may need is a good place to start.
What is the most absorbable form of magnesium?
As we mentioned above, magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms of magnesium and it’s also readily absorbable. This is because it is a combination of magnesium oxide and citric acid. It forms a powder that is easily absorbed once you drink it.
Are Epsom salts a good source of magnesium for someone on the ketogenic diet?
If you are on a ketogenic diet, or just a low carb diet in general, then adding Epsom salt baths into your routine is a great idea. Adding Epsom salt to your baths is an easy way to increase magnesium without having to take a supplement orally. While we suggest taking a magnesium citrate supplement as well, this is a great addition to things!
If you are to take an Epsom salt bath, then please reference the below chart to know how much Epsom salt to use in each one.
Size / Age
Epsom Salt Serving
Children under 60 lbs
½ cup of salt
Adults or children 60-100 lbs
1 cup of salt
Adults or children 100-150 lbs
1 ½ cup of salt
Adults or children 150-200 lbs
2 cups of salt
Every 50 lbs larger
Add an additional ½ cup of salt
How much magnesium should you take a day?
The recommended value for magnesium intake is 200-400 milligrams. That said, if you go slightly over, it will not harm you. But if you dip below, that is where you will start to see issues. If you experience muscle weakness and general weakness, headaches, constipation, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, irritability, depression, anxiety it could be a sign of a serious deficiency and you should see a doctor.
If you want to use a magnesium supplement, here are a few options to get your recommended daily dose:
Should You Supplement With Magnesium On A Ketogenic Diet?
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals for our body because it plays varying roles that are important in keeping our body’s normal functioning. Muscle and nerve function, immune system, heart health, brain health, blood sugar, and blood pressure are some of the physiological areas in which magnesium plays a role.
In the case of keto, magnesium is also important because it acts as an electrolyte, something that is drastically depleted from the keto diet and other low-carb diets due to excessive water and mineral excretion. Electrolytes play a vital role as they keep your muscle and nerve function intact – they provide the “impulse” to your nerves.
That being said, taking magnesium supplements is important and would be very beneficial to your overall health. However, there are different types of magnesium supplements and you need to know their uses to better maximize their use. Hopefully, you finished this article knowing the different types of magnesium supplements, their benefits, and their potential cons. If you still have questions about magnesium, we have a variety of free resources on our blog that you can browse.
If you’re taking certain medications, we always recommend speaking to a physician first before consuming Magnesium.