Magnesium Supplements: The Best and Worst to Take


Magnesium, an essential mineral, is a true marvel when it comes to supporting various bodily functions. From maintaining strong bones to promoting heart health and aiding in energy production, this unassuming element plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being. However, not all magnesium supplements are created equal. In this blog post, we will delve into the importance of magnesium, how it is absorbed by our bodies, the best and worst magnesium supplements to take, and the staggering prevalence of magnesium deficiency.

The Crucial Role of Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, making it one of the most vital minerals for maintaining optimal health. Some of its key functions include:

  1. Energy Production: Magnesium is essential for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of our cells. It plays a central role in metabolizing carbohydrates and fats, converting them into usable energy.
  2. Muscle Function: Magnesium is critical for muscle contractions and relaxation, making it vital for athletes and anyone engaged in physical activities.
  3. Heart Health: This mineral helps maintain a healthy heart rhythm and supports cardiovascular function by regulating blood pressure and reducing the risk of arrhythmias.
  4. Bone Health: Magnesium aids in the absorption of calcium, promoting strong bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  5. Nervous System Support: Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system, contributing to stress reduction and promoting better sleep.

The Prevalence of Magnesium Deficiency

Despite its critical importance, magnesium deficiency is shockingly common. Various factors contribute to this widespread issue, including modern dietary habits that lean toward processed foods and a decrease in magnesium content in the soil due to intensive farming practices.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 75% of the global population may have an inadequate intake of magnesium. In the United States, studies suggest that approximately 50% of the population does not meet the recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Certain groups are more prone to magnesium deficiency, including:

  • Older Adults: As people age, their ability to absorb magnesium from the diet may decrease, leading to a higher risk of deficiency.
  • Individuals with Gastrointestinal Conditions: Conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or chronic diarrhea, can hinder magnesium absorption and increase the risk of deficiency.
  • Alcoholics: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to magnesium depletion due to impaired absorption and increased urinary excretion.
  • Individuals on Certain Medications: Some medications, like diuretics and proton pump inhibitors, can interfere with magnesium absorption and contribute to deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency can manifest in various ways, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Common signs of deficiency include muscle cramps, fatigue, irritability, and irregular heart rhythms. Long-term deficiency may also increase the risk of chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

The Science Behind Magnesium Absorption

Magnesium absorption occurs primarily in the small intestine. The body tightly regulates the absorption process to maintain adequate levels in the blood. Factors that enhance magnesium absorption include vitamin D, acidic conditions in the stomach, and the presence of certain amino acids.

On the other hand, some factors hinder magnesium absorption. High doses of zinc and calcium, as well as medications like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), may interfere with magnesium uptake. It is crucial to strike a balance between these nutrients for optimal absorption.

The Best Magnesium Supplements to Consider

1. Brain Health and Cognitive Function: Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium L-Threonate has gained attention for its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, making it potentially beneficial for brain health and cognitive function. Research suggests that this form of magnesium may improve memory and support overall cognitive performance. It is believed to enhance synaptic density, the connections between neurons, which can positively impact learning and memory.

Individuals looking to support brain health, improve focus, and enhance cognitive abilities may find Magnesium L-Threonate a suitable option.

2. Relaxation and Stress Relief: Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium Glycinate is a top choice for relaxation and stress relief. As a chelated form of magnesium with the amino acid glycine, it has a calming effect on the nervous system. Glycine itself is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and can help reduce anxiety and stress.

For those dealing with high levels of stress, anxiety, or difficulty relaxing, Magnesium Glycinate can be an excellent option to promote a sense of calm and emotional well-being.

3. General Well-Being and Overall Health: Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium Bisglycinate, and Magnesium Lactate

Magnesium Citrate offers a good balance of absorption and tolerability, making it a versatile choice for general health support. It is commonly used to address magnesium deficiency and may provide benefits for various functions, including energy production, muscle health, and heart function.

Magnesium Bisglycinate, another highly bioavailable form, is also a great option for general health. Its gentle nature on the stomach makes it suitable for those with sensitive digestive systems.

Magnesium Lactate is generally well-absorbed and may be less likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, making it suitable for individuals seeking muscle support.

4. Depression and Mood Support: Magnesium Taurate

Magnesium Taurate combines magnesium with the amino acid taurine, which has a positive impact on mood and neurotransmitter activity. Taurine has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain and may support individuals dealing with depression or mood imbalances.

For those seeking additional support for mood stability and emotional health, Magnesium Taurate may complement other treatment approaches.

5. Muscle Health and Relaxation: Magnesium Malate and Magnesium Lactate

Magnesium Malate is a beneficial choice for individuals experiencing muscle pain, soreness, or fatigue. Malic acid, combined with magnesium, plays a role in energy production and may help alleviate muscle discomfort.

Magnesium Lactate is generally well-absorbed and may be less likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, making it suitable for individuals seeking muscle support.

6. Heart Health and Athletic Performance: Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Orotate

Magnesium Orotate is often used to support heart health and athletic performance. This form combines magnesium with orotic acid, which is involved in DNA and RNA synthesis. It may promote heart muscle function and overall cardiovascular health.

7. Topical Absorption and Skin Health: Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium Chloride is commonly found in topical solutions such as magnesium oil or flakes. It can be absorbed through the skin, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive digestive systems or those seeking localized application for muscle or skin health.

The Worst Magnesium Supplements to Avoid

  1. Magnesium Oxide: Although it contains a high percentage of elemental magnesium, its bioavailability is relatively low, and it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
  2. Magnesium Carbonate: This form has low bioavailability and may lead to digestive disturbances.
  3. Magnesium Hydroxide: Commonly used as an antacid or laxative, but it has a relatively low bioavailability as a magnesium supplement.
  4. Magnesium Sulfate: Epsom salt is often used in baths, but it is not a preferred form for oral supplementation due to limited bioavailability.
  5. Magnesium Aspartate: While it has good bioavailability, excessive aspartic acid may have neurotoxic effects, so caution is advised with this form.


Magnesium, the unsung hero of minerals, is an absolute necessity for maintaining optimal health. From energy production to heart health and bone strength, it plays a multifaceted role in our well-being. Choosing the right magnesium supplement is crucial, as some forms have better absorption and fewer side effects than others.

When considering magnesium supplementation, opt for forms with good bioavailability and minimal gastrointestinal discomfort, such as magnesium citrate, glycinate, or malate. Steer clear of magnesium oxide and other poorly absorbed forms.

However, before adding any supplements to your regimen, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to determine your individual needs and address any underlying health conditions. Armed with the knowledge about the best and worst magnesium supplement types, we can take charge of our health and unlock the full potential of this remarkable mineral. Remember, a well-nourished body is a stepping stone to a healthier and happier life.

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