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What You Need to Know About Magnesium Glycinate (in Canada)

canprev and magnesium glycinate absorbability

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It’s fair to say that magnesium glycinate is generating buzz as a supplement. If magnesium citrate is the top-selling form (SPINS data), magnesium glycinate is a close runner-up.

And magnesium glycinate brands are making bold claims. You may have come across these yourself and wondered, is magnesium glycinate a better form of magnesium?

In this post we’ll:

  1. Dissect claims about magnesium glycinate;
  2. Disclose a serious magnesium glycinate labelling issue;
  3. Share cutting-edge research; and
  4. Explain when magnesium glycinate might be a good option.

Let’s get to it!

Magnesium Glycinate Claims

Some of the biggest Canadian magnesium glycinate brands frequently state that their form of magnesium is more absorbable

Absorbability matters because only an absorbable magnesium is ‘bioavailable’ or useful to your body.

That’s why claiming better absorption is kind of a big deal.

But are these claims founded?

We know from the peer-reviewed, published research that there is no evidence behind those claims. Magnesium glycinate is more absorbable than some forms, like magnesium oxide, but it’s not more absorbable than magnesium citrate.

But let’s take a closer look at one example of these claims in action. I want to show you how marketing fluff can be presented as science, without the backing of real data.

One of the big magnesium glycinate brands recently released a 68-page booklet titled, “Magnesium a Primer”. In it, they cite a study comparing magnesium citrate with glycinate, to the advantage of glycinate.

Yet, this study is not available on PubMed, the source of all credible research. How odd.

We asked our advisor, Dr. Alison Smith, to find out more. She wrote a  clear and strong critique of the primer.

The key takeaways?

  • The authors make misleading, unreferenced and even contradictory claims about magnesium glycinate.
  • The study cited is contributed by the manufacturer of their magnesium glycinate (Albion Laboratories, Inc.), and there are several problems with this research:
    • It’s a conflict of interest;
    • The study has never been published or peer-reviewed;
    • The study method is considered unreliable;
    • If the magnesium is from Albion, it may not be pure…but more on that, below.

Mislabelling of Magnesium Glycinate

Here’s a short story.

The other day, I was in a natural health store and mentioned to an employee that I work with Natural Calm.

“Oh, there’s a lot of drama in the magnesium industry right now,” she said.

I said, “Like what?”

She said that several Canadian brands had been misled by their manufacturer(s). The “pure magnesium glycinate” on their labels, it turns out, was actually mixed with magnesium oxide.

Why might magnesium glycinate companies be diluting their product with magnesium oxide? Magnesium oxide is widely-considered a less absorbable form.

There are at least 2 plausible reasons.

  1. It’s hard to get a high dose of magnesium glycinate in a small serving. To get the numbers up, they may have added magnesium oxide.
  2. Profits, plain and simple. Magnesium oxide is less expensive to manufacture and magnesium glycinate has a higher market value. That calculation adds up to a fatter margin for manufacturers.

We obtained this letter explaining the situation.

Letter on Magnesium Glycinate

As you can see, the issue is affecting “many” magnesium brands in North America. Most are no doubt ethical brands completely misled by their manufacturer.

I may have kept this intel to myself if it had not been for the primer citing the study by Albion Laboratories. As it turns out, Albion has already been in a class-action suit in the US for mislabelling their magnesium glycinate as pure, when in fact it contained (or still contains) magnesium oxide.

So, when Albion Laboratories claims their magnesium glycinate is more absorbable, we’re left with two big questions:

  1. Is the magnesium glycinate Canadians are buying really selling pure magnesium glycinate?
  2. Why would we believe studies from a manufacturer that has a track record of unethical behaviour?

Oh, and maybe just one more question. Did the Canadian magnesium glycinate companies who buy from Albion know about the class action lawsuit as far back as 2014? You have to wonder.

If you’ve been buying magnesium glycinate, these are questions you should be asking.

The First Study to Compare Magnesium Glycinate with Magnesium Citrate

In 2016, the magnesium glycinate claims were reaching a pitch. We needed the truth.

That’s why we commissioned the first study comparing leading Canadian magnesium brands. And not just any study. An in-vivo, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study – the gold standard in research.

As of September 2017, we’re happy to announce the results. Compared with two leading Canadian magnesium glycinate brands, only Natural Calm significantly increased magnesium levels.

What were these two other brands?

Read the magnesium absorbability study results to find out.

Natural Calm Products with Magnesium Glycinate

Recently, we introduced NEW Calmful Sleep. The knock-out formula contains Natural Calm magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, GABA, l-theanine and melatonin.

Magnesium glycinate? Why?

It has nothing to do with absorption.

Calmful Sleep is formulated to deliver a high dose of magnesium at a single time – before bed. Taking a high dose of magnesium at any one time can have a laxative effect, and this is more true of magnesium citrate than glycinate. (Many of our customers thank us for it!)

But didn’t we just spend this post de-bunking magnesium glycinate?

Not exactly. What we take issue with are unfounded marketing claims.

The peer-reviewed, published research suggests that magnesium glycinate is a good form.  It’s not better, but it may be comparable or nearly as absorbable as magnesium citrate.

What about the poor performance of magnesium glycinate in our clinical trial?

Given the widespread mislabelling by magnesium glycinate brands, we can only speculate. Did those brands do so poorly because of shady manufacturing?

Quite possibly.

It may simply come down to choosing a brand you trust.

Natural Calm is the #1-selling magnesium in North America, backed by thousands of 5-star reviews and dozens of awards.

If there were ever a “better” magnesium glycinate, it would come from Natural Calm.

Try Calmful Sleep – with glycinate – and tell us what you think!

Magnesium Glycinate FAQs

Magnesium glycinate is a form of magnesium that has been shown, in studies, to help prevent and treat:

  • anxiety
  • osteoporosis
  • diabetes mellitus type 2 (in conjunction with standard treatment)
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • symptoms associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • heart disease and risk of stroke (in people with normal blood pressure and no history of cardiovascular disease)
  • pain due to fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome

In addition, those who have been diagnosed with manganese deficiency benefit from taking magnesium.

Taking magnesium glycinate everyday might cause an excess of magnesium. An excessive amount of magnesium can lead to:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • tiredness

Appropriate magnesium dosage can vary by age, health condition, and other medications taken. You can find a full magnesium RDA table at:

Magnesium glycinate tablets are used for the following purposes:

  • preventing and treating magnesium deficiency (for example, because of malnutrition or alcoholism)
  • treating or preventing manganese deficiency
  • helping to prevent osteoporosis

The recommended dosage is one tablet once daily with food. As always, speak with your doctor before taking magnesium glycinate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney health problems.

There is some concern that taking magnesium glycinate might harm the kidneys over time. While excess accumulation of magnesium in the blood can cause harmful effects (for example, muscle weakness), this does not happen with magnesium glycinate, which does not accumulate to a dangerous level in the body. However, it’s still possible for magnesium glycinate to be harmful to the kidneys if they are already diseased. For this reason, people with kidney disease should consult their doctor before taking magnesium glycinate. It’s also important to let your doctor know if you have other medical conditions that affect your kidneys or other organs.

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