Did you know that magnesium is an amazing mineral and electrolyte that has been crowned “nature’s muscle relaxer?” Or that it has many different uses beyond just a laxative?
There are more than eight different forms of magnesium that all do slightly different things, which begs the question: How do I know what form to take to reap the relaxation benefits?
That’s what we’re going to explore in this article. Keep reading for a breakdown of some common forms of magnesium and their uses.
This lovely mineral is involved in over 300 different enzyme reactions and is found in nearly every cell of the body. It helps regulate certain biochemical reactions in our bodies like protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood sugar balance and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is also one of our essential electrolytes, required for proper hydration and water absorption. It also regulates nerve and muscle function and maintains acid-base and water balance.
We also need magnesium to synthesize the most abundant antioxidant in the body, glutathione, which helps our body detoxify unwanted chemicals and toxins. In the right form it has a calming effect on our body, especially our muscles and nervous system, which is the primary use for magnesium — sleep and stress management, and muscle recovery. It can also help ease PMS symptoms, protect us from metabolic diseases like diabetes, prevent migraines, control inflammation and help reduce anxiety and depression.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people are deficient in magnesium. This mineral gets depleted when we’re chronically stressed, when we sweat a lot (remember it’s an electrolyte) or do a lot of heavy intense workouts. Other reasons magnesium might be low include diabetes, poor absorption, poor diet, chronic diarrhea, celiac disease and hungry bone syndrome.
Before we dive into the different kinds of magnesium, let’s also look at where you can naturally get magnesium in your diet. Supplementation can be great when you need therapeutic doses of magnesium for your healing journey or when restoring nutrient deficiencies but the best and most natural way to get regular magnesium is from your food!
Some of my favorite magnesium-rich foods include cooked spinach and swiss chard, dark chocolate, cashews, flaxseeds, mackerel, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts. Avocados, black beans and bananas also good sources of magnesium.
Fun fact, ladies, if you crave chocolate around your period, this is a strong sign that your magnesium levels are low. And when paired with other high magnesium foods and supplements can help reduce unwanted PMS symptoms.
A combination of salt and citric acid, magnesium citrate is commonly referred to as a saline or osmotic laxative that works by drawing water into the intestines to help clean out the bowels. It’s commonly used in pre-colonoscopy prep to flush the bowels before the procedure.
An important thing to note here is that this form of the mineral isn’t meant for long term use and can be aggravating to the intestines.
This is another form that’s used as a laxative and for acid reflux. It’s not absorbed by the body and is typically found in products like Milk of Magnesia and Mag07.
Magnesium chelate is a chelated form of magnesium that’s highly absorbable and found naturally in most fruits/veggies. Chelation is a process that can help make vitamins and minerals more absorbable in the body and can help remove toxic heavy metals from the body. A chelating agent such as an organic compound or amino acid can also help prevent certain minerals from interacting with other compounds that might interfere with absorption and function.
This supplement is commonly used to restore magnesium deficiency as well as provide calming and muscle relaxation benefits. It’s one of my favorite forms, along with the below.
This is another highly absorbable form of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is best used for muscle recovery after workouts and for promoting restful sleep. One benefit of this form of magnesium is that it doesn’t have any laxative effects and it’s very gentle on the stomach and bowels, unlike other forms (magnesium citrate).
It’s important to note that those with kidney issues should always consult a doctor before taking magnesium glycinate. Dysfunction in the kidneys can lead to difficulties in excreting excess magnesium and could mess with the delicate balance of minerals in our body.
This is the only form of magnesium that crosses the blood-brain barrier and can help with certain brain disorders like depression and memory loss or dementia. It can help buffer calcium levels in the brain, promote new synapse formation and structurally reverse certain aspects of brain aging. How cool is that?
One study showed that 12-week administration of magnesium L-threonate boosted performance on individual cognitive tests and reversed brain aging by more than nine years in older adults with cognitive impairment.
This is a combination of magnesium and malic acid (found in apples) that can help improve mood, control blood sugar, aid in exercise performance, enhance cellular metabolism and reduce chronic pain.
An oil form of magnesium, magnesium chloride can be used topically to dull muscle aches and pains, and soothe skin issues like eczema, acne and atopic dermatitis.
This form is a combination of magnesium, sulfur and oxide that’s most commonly referred to as “epsom salt” and is used therapeutically in baths for muscle relaxation and stress relief.
Magnesium sulfate is the ultimate self care mineral!
What form or forms of magnesium is right for your body will largely depend on what your specific health needs/concerns are.
Magnesium citrate is the cheapest and most commonly sold form of magnesium on the market and it seems to be taking it for their stress, sleep for deficiencies, etc. but it’s one of the worst forms for that. You might be familiar with Calm magnesium powder or have taken Milk of Magnesia. These are great short term solutions for mild constipation, but over time can irritate the gut lining. And they aren’t readily absorbed and used by the body.
Magnesium malate, chelate and glycinate are much better and more high quality forms of magnesium to use for stress/relaxation, muscle recovery and sleep, and even cramping and moodiness during PMS. These are highly absorbable and can help if you are struggling with a magnesium deficiency.
Some of my favorite products combine multiple forms of magnesium like Mg Zyme or Acti-Mag from Biotics Research and Optimal Magnesium from Seeking Health.
If you’re looking for high quality pharmaceutical grade supplements you can trust, I’ve got your back. You can do that in my online dispensary — it’s free to sign up! Browse my categories like sleep, gut health & blood sugar support to find my favorite mag supplements.
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