Ok, enough with the introduction and let’s read this fine article:
So, you’ve read about all the benefits of magnesium and how it’s difficult to get enough from food, and you’ve decided you want to supplement. It’s as easy as walking into the natural food store, asking for the magnesium aisle, and making a quick grab, right?
If you’ve ever tried to do just that, you know it’s not that simple. There’s chelated magnesium, ionic magnesium, colloidal magnesium and one with a label that appears to be shooting out rainbows like an 80’s Care Bear. Which one is best? The answer to that question depends on your goals and bio-individuality.
In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know before heading to the store so that you can skip a frustrating trial-and-error process. Oh, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed as you read, don’t worry. There’s a list of recommended forms – including brands – at the bottom of this page.
Let’s jump in!
What are the different types of magnesium?
Magnesium supplements vary in price, bioavailability (how well we can absorb and use them), and how they impact our bodies. Let’s do a quick pro/con list for each option.
Magnesium Mineral Salts
- Pros: Magnesium mineral salts such as magnesium oxide are usually your cheapest option.
- Cons: They’re not well-absorbed and can cause nausea and diarrhea when HCL (hydrochloric acid levels) are low in the stomach (Murray)
- Pros: This form is attached to another molecule that helps deliver magnesium to a specific place, and is, therefore, better absorbed. More about the different types and unique benefits of chelated magnesium below.
- Cons: Adequate levels if HCL (stomach acid) is needed for absorption, so individuals with weak digestion may not find this form helpful. (Bergner)
On a related note, we’ve all heard that heartburn is caused by excess stomach acid. But after testing thousands of heartburn patients at his Tahoma Clinic, Jonathan Wright, M.D., says that’s not true in over 90% of cases. This is the most common cause of heartburn, and here’s how to get rid of heartburn naturally.
Ionic magnesium is dissolved in water and doesn’t need HCl to be absorbed, and for this reason, is considered by many to be the best oral form of magnesium. (Schauss)
Colloidal magnesium is a relatively new form that is considered by many to be mostly hype, difficult to absorb, and possibly a health hazard. (Bergner)
Now, let’s take a closer look at each type.
What is chelated magnesium?
As previously mentioned, chelated magnesium is magnesium bound to other molecules. These molecules can increase magnesium absorption, and they are reported to be able to deposit the magnesium in specific places. Let’s review the different types of chelated magnesium and how practitioners are using them (recommended brands are listed near the end of the article):
* Magnesium citrate: Citrate delivers magnesium straight to the mitochondria because citrate is part of the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle) that takes place in mitochondria. Therefore, it is considered useful for people who need more energy, but it may cause diarrhea and is often recommended when people have constipation and want to take magnesium. (Murray) However, some practitioners say magnesium citrate is dangerous because it can interfere with iron and copper metabolism. (source 1, source 2)
* Magnesium glycinate: Helpful for musculoskeletal and general anti-inflammatory support. This is considered one of the best forms of oral chelated magnesium because it’s less likely to cause diarrhea. Most herbalists and many functional medicine practitioners recommend and prefer this form of magnesium, particularly for individuals who have loose stools, gut issues, or need higher doses. (Unless those gut issues involve low stomach acid, which would perhaps make ionic magnesium a better option.)
* Magnesium malate: This form may be helpful for fatigue and easing some types of pain. Chelated with malic acid – which is often found in fruits – it was found in a small University of Maryland Medical Center study to ease symptoms of fatigue and discomfort in individuals with fibromyalgia. (source)
* Magnesium orotate: Bound with orotic acid, this form is thought to be the most bioavailable form because of the ease with which it enters into cell membranes, and it has been shown through research to support cardiovascular health (source)
* Magnesium taurate: Helpful for cardiovascular and blood sugar support. This form of magnesium is bound to an amino acid that is considered helpful for cardiovascular health and proper insulin response. (source) As always, check with your healthcare provider first if you are on insulin medications, calcium channel blockers, diuretics or any other medication that might interact with any supplements you want to take. Also, this form may be problematic for individuals with a CBS gene mutation because it causes a buildup of taurine in the body. More about the CBS gene mutation below.
* Magnesium L-threonine This is a relatively new form of magnesium that reportedly better penetrates the mitochondria and the brain, supporting brain plasticity and cognitive function. (source)
So which form is best? From the list above, magnesium glycinate, malate, orotate and L-threonate are the ones I rotate between. However, when deciding, it’s best to consider your main goals and your digestion.
For example, if you’re concerned that your digestive system isn’t robust enough to absorb oral forms, you can choose ionic magnesium that is already dissolved and doesn’t require digestion. Or in that case another option for bypassing the digestive system is to topical application.
What are the benefits of topical magnesium?
Because oral magnesium often needs to be digested by HCl and then absorbed via the small intestines, many people consider topical magnesium the preferable choice, especially for those who have digestive issues.
Magnesium placed on the skin, either through magnesium oil or Epsom salt baths, bypass the digestive system and go right into the blood. However, some people find them itchy and irritating. Also, many people use too little Epsom salt and therefore don’t experience a therapeutic benefit. Herbalist Rosalee de al Foret recommends at least 2 cups per bath to make sure you are getting beneficial amounts of magnesium. (Taste of Herbs)
You can find the rest of the article here: https://www.mommypotamus.com/magnesium-supplements/