Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports over 300 bodily functions. It plays a crucial role in energy production, muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, protein formation, and so much more. Plus, low magnesium levels are linked to a variety of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and migraines.
Despite the benefits of magnesium and its immense importance, nearly half of all Americans — 48% to be exact — aren’t getting enough. If this sounds familiar, rest assured there is a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market, and today’s article reveals everything you need to know about magnesium supplementation. Keep reading to discover the best magnesium supplement for you.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s functioning. It helps regulate nerve function, regulate blood pressure, strengthen bones, make protein, and maintain a steady heartbeat.
Considering its involvement in over 300 bodily processes, magnesium supports both your brain and body. Here are some evidence-based benefits of magnesium:
Supports Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions
One of magnesium’s major roles is to act as a cofactor (a helper molecule) in the biochemical reactions performed by enzymes. These reactions include energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle contraction, and nervous system regulation.
Improves Exercise Performance
Magnesium helps transport blood sugar to your muscles and dispose of lactate – which can build up throughout exercise and cause fatigue. Additionally, one study found that women with higher magnesium intake had more muscle mass and power.
Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Research indicates that people who consume adequate amounts of magnesium are at lower risk for type 2 diabetes. This is because magnesium enhances insulin sensitivity, which plays a key role in blood sugar control.
Has Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Magnesium deficiency is associated with higher levels of inflammation, and inflammation plays a critical role in chronic disease and aging. One study revealed that magnesium supplementation reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) — an indicator of inflammation — in people with chronic inflammation, and further research has linked magnesium deficiency to oxidative stress.
How Much Magnesium Do I Need?
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of magnesium, how much do you need? Well, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for magnesium are as follows:
|Birth to 6 months
Where Can I Get Magnesium?
Magnesium is found in a variety of plant and animal foods. However, some of the best magnesium food sources include green leafy vegetables (like spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Additionally, magnesium is found in fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods, as well as in milk and yogurt.
But as we mentioned, nearly 50% of Americans are not getting enough magnesium from diet alone. And for that reason, there are a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market, all serving different purposes.
Below is a list of the various types of magnesium supplements, along with their benefits, to help you find one suitable to your needs:
This form of magnesium is bound with citric acid, and it’s one of the most common magnesium supplements. Research also confirms that magnesium citrate is one of the most bioavailable forms, making it more easily absorbed by your digestive system.
The liquid form of magnesium citrate makes it ideal for people who have trouble absorbing magnesium. It also helps with constipation.
As the name suggests, magnesium oxide is combined with oxygen. Because it’s poorly absorbed by the digestive tract, it isn’t recommended to treat magnesium deficiencies. Instead, it’s used to relieve heartburn, indigestion, and constipation. Preliminary research also suggests that magnesium oxide can help with migraines.
Magnesium chloride binds with chlorine and is a common ingredient in topical products — like lotions and ointments — that are used to support muscle and joint health. You can also ingest magnesium chloride orally to treat heartburn, constipation, and low magnesium levels.
Magnesium lactate is a salt that forms when magnesium binds with lactic acid. It’s used as a food additive to regulate acidity and fortify beverages. And according to a 2017 analysis, it’s easily absorbed by the digestive system. Therefore, it’s a great option for people requiring large, regular magnesium doses or those who are intolerant to other forms.
This form of magnesium includes malic acid, which has a sour taste and is often added to foods for flavor and/or acidity. Some evidence suggests that magnesium malate is highly bioavailable and well-tolerated by most.
Magnesium taurate contains the amino acid taurine, and it can help promote healthy blood sugar levels. Because magnesium taurate is highly bioavailable and able to pass the blood-brain barrier, it’s also used to support brain function. One study found that it decreased anxiety in rats, and another animal study determined that it could prevent damage after a traumatic brain injury.
Additionally, magnesium and taurine are both thought to have preventative effects for migraines. Therefore, a combination of the two is a great way to address this condition.
Magnesium L-threonate is a salt that forms when magnesium is combined with threonic acid. It’s easily absorbed and used to improve brain-related functions like memory and depressive symptoms. It also effectively enhanced learning in rats.
An animal study found that magnesium L-threonate prevented memory impairment and inflammation caused by alcohol abuse. And further research reveals that it prevents and restores memory deficits caused by chronic pain in animals. However, more human research is needed.
Magnesium sulfate — more commonly known as Epsom salt — combines magnesium, salt, and oxygen. It’s taken orally to treat a variety of conditions including constipation, low blood magnesium, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnant women). Or, you can dissolve it in bathwater to soothe sore muscles and promote relaxation.
Magnesium glycinate combines magnesium with the amino acid glycine, and it’s found in protein-rich foods like fish, meat, dairy, and legumes. Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed and has calming properties. Additionally, preliminary research indicates that it can minimize mental health issues including:
Since magnesium supports energy production and muscle function, magnesium glycinate is a great option for aiding athletic performance and muscle recovery. And because animal studies suggest that glycine improves sleep — and magnesium on its own improves sleep quality and duration — combining the two can be an effective sleep aid.
Magnesium orotate features orotic acid, which is naturally occurring and involved in the construction of genetic material. This kind of magnesium is easily absorbed, and it doesn’t have the laxative effects of some other forms. Preliminary research suggests that it can promote heart health thanks to orotic acid’s role in the energy production pathways in heart and blood vessel tissue. Therefore, it’s a popular choice among competitive athletes, as well as those with heart disease.
Is It Good to Take Magnesium Every Day?
Generally, daily magnesium supplementation is safe for most people. However, it’s important to ensure you’re following the proper dosage:
Dosage for Constipation
Both magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide are used to promote bowel movements, and the recommended dosage depends on the product. Magnesium citrate can also treat constipation, and the standard dose is 240 milliliters per day.
Dosage for Sleep
Adequate magnesium levels support a good night’s sleep. Based on limited research, taking 320 to 729 milligrams of magnesium daily can help you fall asleep faster.
Dosage for Blood Sugar
One study found that supplementing with 250 mg of magnesium per day — in the form of magnesium gluconate, oxide, and lactate — can improve insulin levels.
Dosage for Reducing Muscle Cramps
Though research on magnesium supplementation for muscle cramping is limited, one study found that participants who received 300 mg of magnesium daily reported fewer muscle cramps than those taking a placebo. Another study revealed that pregnant women who were supplemented with 300 mg of magnesium experienced less frequent and intense leg cramps.
Dosage for Depression
One study found that taking 248 mg of magnesium (from 2,000 mg of magnesium chloride) improved depressive symptoms in those with mild depression. Additionally, another study found that taking 305 mg of magnesium (from 500 mg of magnesium oxide) significantly improved depressive symptoms in those with low magnesium levels.
How to Choose the Right Magnesium Supplement for You
Ultimately, choosing the right magnesium supplement (and dosage) depends on your unique circumstances and needs. Therefore, it’s best to consult with your doctor before adding a magnesium supplement to your routine.
Note that magnesium supplements may interact with certain medications like antibiotics, diuretics, and prescription drugs. Therefore, your healthcare provider can help you select a magnesium supplement and dosage that’s suitable to your needs, age, health status, and medication routine.