You may have heard of magnesium and its many benefits as a dietary supplement. But did you know that there are several types of magnesium supplements, each with different effects and uses? Keep reading to learn the differences between and uses of five common types of magnesium supplements.
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What is magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an essential role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It’s also the fourth most common mineral in the body. However, around two in three people in the western world don’t get the recommended daily amount of magnesium for optimal health. (19)
Magnesium deficiencies can impair certain bodily functions that rely on it, contributing to various health conditions. Magnesium supplementation therefore may be beneficial in the treatment of health conditions such as:
- Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
- Metabolic syndrome (a group of health conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke when occurring together)
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
- Various cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) (19)
Five common types of magnesium
It can sometimes be confusing or overwhelming seeing various types of magnesium available to choose from when placing an order. Keep reading to learn the specifics of five commonly used forms of magnesium. Don’t forget to communicate with your healthcare provider as well to find out which one is right for you.
1. Magnesium citrate
Magnesium citrate is a formulation of magnesium bound with citric acid, which is found in fruits and contains many antioxidant properties. (15) This form of magnesium is highly bioavailable, meaning it gets absorbed more easily into the digestive tract. Because of this, it’s often used for replenishing low magnesium levels. (25)
A study also found magnesium citrate to be helpful in decreasing migraine frequency and severity when used orally over a three-month period. (11) It also has a laxative effect and is sometimes used for addressing constipation, (2)(7) as well as for clearing the colon prior to a colonoscopy. (6) However, if you plan on using magnesium citrate to relieve constipation, make sure to speak with your practitioner first to ensure you’re taking the correct amount.
2. Magnesium glycinate
Magnesium glycinate is the formulation of magnesium and the amino acid, glycine. Glycine is largely used in the body for protein production. (17) Since magnesium has been found beneficial in supporting energy production and muscle function, the magnesium glycinate formulation may be a good option for aiding athletic performance and muscle recovery. (16)(24)
Glycine is also a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger carrying signals from neurons to other cells) and has been used on its own to improve sleep quality. (10) Given that magnesium on its own has also been associated with improvement of sleep quality and duration, (28) combining the two together may make for an effective natural sleeping aid.
Additionally, magnesium deficiency is thought to be a potential cause of depression, due to the negative impact the deficiency can have on certain neurons. Consistent use of magnesium glycinate was found to support rapid recovery from major depression, as well as effectively address depression generally. (5) If you’re suffering from insomnia or depression, magnesium glycinate may be helpful for you.
3. Magnesium sulfate
Magnesium sulfate is a salt commonly known as epsom salt. It’s often used in baths, though research is limited as to the effectiveness of its absorption through the skin. (8)
Orally, magnesium sulfate was also found to halve the risk of eclampsia in pregnant individuals. (4) It was also effective in treating existing eclampsia and preeclampsia. (27) Based on research, magnesium sulfate is unlikely to adversely affect newborn babies after use during pregnancy. (20) However, we recommend checking with your healthcare provider first before use.
4. Magnesium L-threonate
An animal study found magnesium L-threonate to be one of the most effective oral types of magnesium supplements for improving brain-related functions such as memory and depression symptoms. (18) It has also been shown to be effective in enhancing learning in rats. (21)
Magnesium L-threonate was found helpful in another animal study in preventing memory impairment and inflammation caused by alcohol abuse. (12) It also prevented and restored memory deficits resulting from chronic pain in animals. (26) While more research in humans is needed to confirm these effects, this initial evidence suggests that magnesium L-threonate may be a good option for improving brain health. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your own brain health, magnesium L-threonate may be a good option for you.
5. Magnesium taurate
Similar to magnesium L-threonate, magnesium taurate is commonly used for supporting brain function. It’s highly bioavailable and was found to easily pass into the brain and maintain a high concentration there. It was also found to decrease anxiety in rats. (23) In a second animal study, it was effective in preventing damage after traumatic brain injury. (9)
Additionally, magnesium and taurine are both thought to individually have preventative effects for migraines. This makes the magnesium taurate formulation a good combination for addressing this condition. (14)
Magnesium taurate was also found to be effective in diabetes treatment, as both components individually may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the risk of vascular complications (having to do with the heart and blood vessels). (13) Lastly, it was shown to be effective in delaying the onset and progression of cataracts in rats, (1) which is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. (3)
The bottom line
Magnesium is an essential mineral in many bodily functions. Given that there are numerous types of magnesium and uses for each, it’s important to understand the differences between them. Familiarizing yourself with the common types of magnesium supplements available, as well as speaking with your healthcare provider, will help you ensure you’re taking the right type of magnesium for your needs. If you’re a patient, always speak to your integrative healthcare provider before introducing new dietary supplements into your wellness routine.
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