Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for regulating a wide array of physiological processes in our bodies. It is a steward of more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral, regulating hundreds of unique intracellular reactions throughout the day . Research suggests that most Americas may suffer from magnesium deficiency and that the average diet isn’t rich enough in high-magnesium foods to meet Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) amounts. I reached out to several health professionals to help break down the importance of magnesium, how to test for a deficiency, and how to select an effective magnesium supplement.
NOTE: This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to serve as qualified medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your current diet or medications.
When dietary requirements can’t be met, or simply aren’t being met, supplements are often tapped as valuable sources of extra nutrition. Supplements are sometimes used as short-term tools to help “sure-up” gaps in nutritional vigor while, for others in circumstances that perpetuate deficiencies, supplements may be used on a longer-term basis. There are many different types of magnesium supplements and many different considerations to make regarding each type. Some are regarded to be better suited for those with chronic fatigue issues while others are better suited for those with constipation.
Current research doesn’t offer definitive recommendations on which types might be the best choice given certain considerations
There isn’t enough research, in our opinion, to adequately advise on which type of magnesium is best in most cases. There are certainly studies that illustrate different types of magnesium compounds’ as displaying different levels of bio-availability. These suggest that careful consideration should be afforded by anyone looking for such supplements to help address nutritional concerns. The issue, as it seems to be, is that while existing research fingers different types of magnesium supplements as offering a varying degree of bioavailability—there aren’t any definitive recommendations on which types might be the best choice given certain considerations.
Magnesium supplements are, in our experience and in the experiences of many we’ve talked with, safe to try without much forethought. That’s to say; magnesium supplements are friendly and don’t have any serious side effects. Nonetheless, it’s never a good idea to take supplements without consulting with a licensed professional that can diagnose your specific needs and specific nutritional circumstances. For example, I’d argue the best approach for addressing concerns of magnesium deficiency—before taking supplements—would be through diet alone. Foods like almonds, spinach, avocados, and even chocolate are all high in magnesium content. This isn’t always an option for those with food allergies or food intolerance issues and supplement sometimes offer the best option.
We’ve consulted with several health professionals to offer up their opinions regarding magnesium deficiencies and considerations to make when taking considering magnesium supplements. These opinions should not be used as a replacement for a personal, one-on-one, relationship with your doctor. I suggest one merely absorb these opinions as an illustration of how the opinions of the best magnesium supplements can be—even among health professionals. Below you’ll find a series of questions and responses from licensed health pros with experience addressing magnesium delicacies and with differing bioavailabilities of different types of magnesium supplements.
Magnesium is, without doubt, one of the most important minerals for helping support the healthy function of our bodies. Nonetheless, there isn’t a huge body of scientific literature to describe just how and why this compound is so important. I’ve found that doctors, nutritionists, and those dealing with patients one-on-one often have a much more practical sense of how this mineral affects overall wellbeing. One of the biggest concerns I’ve run into among those I’ve spoken with is in understanding which types of magnesium are most bioavailable. Just pouring magnesium into your system doesn’t guarantee that your body will be able to fully utilize it—most likely it’ll be eliminated in the form of very loose stools. Understanding which forms of magnesium are regarded as being the most easily-absorbed can make the effectiveness of one’s personal magnesium supplementation much greater. Here’s what those on the front lines have to say:
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals found in the human body. Ensuring adequate levels can help support the healthy and natural function of a great many biological processes in our bodies. In most cases, it seems that magnesium is a very safe compound to experiment with. However, depending on your personal circumstances such as medications, specific health conditions, or perhaps even dietary restrictions; one should always consult with a doctor before starting a new magnesium supplement regiment. Aside from specific concerns that only your doctor can help understand—there are also some general concerns that everyone should be aware of before taking magnesium. Here’s some perspectives on the common uses, side effects, and general things one should be aware of:
Magnesium Malate is comprised of one part malic acid and one part elemental magnesium . Some forms, such as DiMagnesium Malate (produced by Albion Minerals), contains two molecules of malic acid for every single molecule of elemental magnesium. This form offers a much denser form of magnesium—though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for everyone. Generally speaking, magnesium malate is often recommended for those seeking to support natural muscular fuction, energy levels, and nervous system health. Here’s what the pros have to say about magnesium malate:
Magnesium Citrate is, just like magnesium malate, considered a salt of magnesium. It is described as being the chemical combination of citric acid and elemental magnesium. This form of magnesium is most-renowned for drawing water into the intestines, through a process of osmosis, such that it exerts a very influential force on bowel movements—especially when taken in large doses . In fact, magnesium citrate is often “prescribed” leading up to colonoscopies to help vacate the bowels.
Magnesium Deficiencies are thought to be rampant in the United States though very seldom does one hear about doctors routinely testing for magnesium levels. As someone who has suffered from, and continues to be treated for, a magnesium deficiency, I can attest to the impact that such a circumstance can have on the quality of one’s daily life. Still, even if one should walk into their primary physician’s office and demand to have their magnesium levels checked—all tests aren’t created equally. One of the most common magnesium tests (also the easiest in terms of clinical resource-usage) is the serum magnesium test which measures levels of magnesium found in the bloodstream. This test is regarded by many as utter nonsense—it doesn’t lend much description of how well magnesium is actually being absorbed by the body. After all, the majority of the magnesium in the human body is found in bones, cartilage, and soft tissues—not the bloodstream ! We asked the pros their opinions on the topic and here’s what they had to say:
Research has found a staggering amount of adults living in the United States likely to not get an adequate amount of magnesium from diet alone. In fact, research suggests that nearly 70% of Americans don’t consume the Recommended Daily Intake of magnesium . In addition to the lack of dietary intake, there are also several other potential factors such as chronic health conditions, topsoil depletion, and anti-nutrients that may be magnifying this overall concern. There’s a lot of questions being asked but, as of yet, not a ton of empirical data to accurately describe the issues. Taking into consideration the opinions of professionals on the front-lines of understanding, and combatting, magnesium deficiencies can help better understand the issue on a more personalized level.
I’d first like to draw attention that, even among practiced health professionals, there are different opinions on which types of magnesium supplements may be best-suited for certain individuals. As expressed by the professionals kind enough to lend their opinion here; there are some common themes and considerations for magnesium—both with regards to dietary intake and supplementation:
- Certain types of magnesium may offer different benefits depending on your circumstance.
- Magnesium Citrate, as well as several other non-chelated forms, may cause GI distress.
- Magnesium deficiency is likely to be very prevalent in the United States.
- RBC Magnesium testing is more accurate than serum magnesium testing when identifying a deficiency.
- There are many personal factors which may impact magnesium levels, and only personalized testing can provide those types of answers.
Magnesium is one of, if not the single-most, essential mineral used by our bodies. Magnesium drives hundreds of critical enzymatic processes that help support nearly every biological system. Magnesium deficiencies may present in a myriad of forms and can, in some cases, be quite difficult to diagnose. For those that suspect such a deficiency; RBC magnesium testing is regarded as a reasonably effective test to confirm. A good first step, if possible, to ensure adequate magnesium levels is to add in magnesium-rich foods to one’s diet.
For others with digestive issues, food-related issues, or other medical complications—magnesium supplementation is an oft-chosen route to address symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. In these cases, it seems the best option is generally-regarded to be amino-acid chelates such as Magnesium Glycinate. Above all else—it should be noted that working with a licensed professional is the only effective way to truly understand how to address nutritional concerns, especially those related to magnesium.
These professionals were kind enough to take time away from their busy schedules and provide deeper insight into the issues of magnesium deficiencies, magnesium supplements, and everything related. For more information regarding their qualifications, practices, and unique specializations I encourage readers to visit each of their websites and take advantage of the informational resources available there.
- King, D E, et al. “Dietary Magnesium and C-Reactive Protein Levels.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930481.
- Elin, R J. “Magnesium Metabolism in Health and Disease.” Disease-a-Month : DM., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1988, doi.org/10.1016/0011-5029(88)90013-2.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Magnesium Malate.” PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Aug. 2008, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Magnesium_malate.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. . “Magnesium Citrate.” PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Aug. 2008, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/24511.
- ExPASy Enzyme Database. “Magnesium as a Enzymatic CoFactor.” ENZYME CoFactor Mg2+, enzyme.expasy.org/cgi-bin/enzyme/enzyme-search-cf?Mg%282%2B%29.