A Quick and Easy Guide to Magnesium

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Have you read an article that tells you how wonderful magnesium is but are unsure as to which magnesium is good for you?  Are they all created equal?  Do they really do different things?

First of all, Magnesium rocks!  I use this mineral all the time.  Here is just a brief list of the benefits of magnesium

  1. Bone density
  2. Cardiac rhythmicity
  3. Pulmonary function
  4. Blood glucose
  5. Nerve conduction
  6. Energy
  7. Muscle contraction

 Why do you need magnesium supplementation?

There are a number of ways to burn out your magnesium.

  • Stress
  • Coffee
  • Soda – excess phosphates
  • Processed foods
  • Soft water
  • Prescription and over-the-counter foods
  • Alcohol
  • Aging
  • Digestive disorders
  • Low magnesium soils as the result of over-farming that leads to low magnesium in your foods


Well, here you go.  These are the most talked about forms that you are likely to run across:

1. Magnesium oxide

This is by far the most widespread in the supplement industry.  But is it the best form?  Well, it depends on what you want from it.  It is best used for:

  1. Antacid for heartburn
  2. Acid indigestion
  3. Sour stomach
  4. Laxitive

It is the cheapest form of magnesium and is not well-absorbed – which is why is it helpful for the GI tract.  It stays in the GI, which acts as an excellent laxative.  If you want any magnesium to go into the blood stream – do not use this one.

Magnesium oxide 1000 mg = 550 mg elemental magnesium

2. Magnesium Citrate

This form is much more easily absorbed than the oxide form.  Studies have shown that this form is 65% bioavailable.  Magnesium oxide is close to 8% absorbed into the blood after taking it orally.  It is coupled with citric acid and stimulates pancreatic bicarbonate so it is best taken with meals.

Magnesium citrate 1000 mg = 100 mg elemental mg

3. Magnesium Malate

This forms treats muscle fatigue, fibromyalgia, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, headache, and relaxes muscles.  The malic acid is able to cross the blood brain barrier and binds aluminum to draw it away from the tissues.  This in turn supports nerve cell growth and communication of the nerves.  Malic acid is present in apples and is the primary flavor in rhubarb.  Malic acid also supports digestion by increasing stomach acid – so I recommend taking this form with meals.

4. Magnesium Citramate

This forms couples magnesium to citrate and malate.  This form is very good for tenderness and fatigue and is often used for those who have fibromyalgia.  This combines the best of citrate and malate!

5. Magnesium Orotate

This one is a little surprising.  For a long time it was touted as the preferred form for heart health and athletic performance.  It is most commonly prescribed for heart failure and did show reduction in cardiac failure symptoms in 40% of patients.  It has also shown to play a role in the creation of DNA or RNA.   Low doses are shown to be safe but high doses above 100 mg per kg per day have been shown to grow tumors in animals.  It is not easily absorbed.  Take only for a short time – can cause uric acid in the body.

6. Magnesium Succinate

Succinate is a Kreb’s cycle intermediate.  It has been determined that succinate is highly absorbable by the body and is good for menopause, hot flashes, irritability, skin complaints, and arthritis.

7. Magnesium Taurinate

This form is best for cardiovascular health.  Taurine is a wonderful amino acid that supports healthy heart function.  It treats arrhythmia and enzymes in the heart and is a perfect combination.  Take before sleep.

Magnesium taurinate 1000 mg = 150 mg elemental mg

8. Magnesium Aspartate

This is one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium.  However, too much asparate = aspartic acid which is toxic to your neurons.

Magnesium aspartate 1000 mg = 80.44mg elemental mg

9. Magnesium Glycinate

The glycine in magnesium glycinate is a neurotransmitter that helps to control mood.  People with depression will feel better from both the magnesium and the glycine.  This is a good form to choose when some of the mental complaints are anxiety, irritability, insomnia, difficulty in concentration.  Physical complaints that magnesium glycinate can help are numbness, crying, rapid heartbeat.  It is calming, so you would want to take this at bedtime.

Magnesium glycinate 1000 mg = 110.70mg elemental mg

10. Magnesium Arginate

Arginine is used in increasing nitric oxide which improves blood flow through the vessels.  The nitric oxide (NO) dilates the blood vessels, improving oxygenation.  Take with meals.

Magnesium arginate 1000 mg = 60 mg elemental mg

11. Magnesium Pyruvate

This can be used for weight loss, obesity, high cholesterol, cataracts, and athletic performance.

12. Magnesium Chloride

Poorly absorbed and cheap form but good for supporting the stomach acid.  The chloride contributes to HCL production and can help some people with GERD.  You want to take this with meals.

13. Magnesium Lysinate

This is coupled with lysine.  L-lysine is often used to prevent and treat herpes eruptions, thus making it an excellent anti-viral.  Take this at night.

14. Magnesium Ascorbate

Coupled with ascorbic acid, can cause loose stool.  Take this before bed or anytime you will be around the house.  I like to use this one after dental procedures that involve removing mercury.  This will help detox.

15. Magnesium Carbonate

Poorly absorbed and cheap

16. Magnesium Gluconate

Poorly absorbed and cheap

17. Magnesium Sulfate

Poorly absorbed and cheap oral form.  This is the form of epsom salts – and is wonderful for relieving aching muscles!  Use this form as epsom salts only and don’t do the oral route – so much better in a bath.  It is relaxing, so most people take epsom salt bath before sleep.

18. Magnesium Lactate

Very uncommon form.  Lactate = lactic acid.  My question is why would you want extra lactic acid?

19. Magnesium Hydroxide

You’ll see this in Milk of Magnesium as it is not well absorbed.  It is good for moving the bowels.  However, I would not take Milk of Magnesium as a brand, they add sodium hypochlorite added which is bleach, so unless you want white intestines I advise to stay away.

USA intake of magnesium over the past century have decreased substantially:

1900-1908   475 – 500

1947 – 1949   358 – 370

1987 – 1992   175 – 248


I usually recommend more than what the RDA recommends.

RDA recommendation

  • Males: 350 mg/day
  • Females: 280 mg/day

Optimal daily intake: 600-800 mg daily


Magnesium Reference

Medical Nutrition from Marz




mhoA Quick and Easy Guide to Magnesium

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