Many health-conscious consumers take magnesium supplements regularly, for reasons ranging from PMS and mood support to promoting muscle relaxation, bone health, and blood sugar balance. With so many types of magnesium supplements to choose from, it can be hard to know how to find a truly high-quality supplement.
The two most important things to know about your magnesium supplement are what is in it, and what is not in it. While the many forms of magnesium provide different amounts of elemental magnesium and are absorbed in different rates, the elemental magnesium in each provides the same overall physical benefits.
A high-quality magnesium supplement will provide an appropriate form of magnesium for the symptoms being addressed, at the potency stated on the label, in an absorbable and well-tolerated delivery format, and without environmental contaminants, common allergens, or unnecessary excipients (i.e. binders, fillers, or coatings). Let’s take a closer look at each of these parameters to understand how to identify a high-quality magnesium supplement.
Forms of Magnesium
Most people are familiar with the more common forms of magnesium such as citrate or oxide, which are sometimes used therapeutically for their osmotic or laxative effects. “Designer” forms of magnesium such as magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate are also available.
These are made by treating a naturally occurring form of magnesium (such as Magnesium Oxide or Magnesium Carbonate) with water and heat to produce a chemical reaction, and chelating (or attaching) the magnesium to an amino acid like glycine, or another organic substance such as malic acid or malate.
Designer forms of magnesium may have enhanced absorption and fewer gastrointestinal side effects compared to the naturally occurring forms listed above, while adding the beneficial properties of the chelated molecule, such as the natural calming effects of glycine or the mitochondrial energy production support provided by malic acid.
Identity and Potency
When searching for a high-quality magnesium supplement, the main thing to look for is a product that is subjected to independent third-party lab analysis at both the raw material and finished product stages, as part of a comprehensive quality assurance protocol.
This can only be truly effective if conducted on every batch, every single time, regardless of supplier or country of origin, rather than relying on in-house testing by the manufacturer, skip lot testing, or accepting certificates of analysis at face value, all of which are allowed by FDA regulations and could allow for sub-potent, contaminated, or falsely identified material to be used.
Those of us who are accustomed to buying organic as the healthiest option for produce, meats, dairy, and herbs, may wonder why magnesium is not available as an organic supplement. Even though dietary supplements are regulated as foods, not all of them are eligible for the organic designation. In the case of Magnesium, it is a mineral and not an agricultural product, so, therefore, cannot be considered organic or labeled as such by law.
When searching for a magnesium supplement that is free from environmental contaminants such as heavy metals and chemical solvents, the only way the manufacturer can ensure the purity is to test.
At Vital Nutrients, each of our magnesium supplements goes through comprehensive quality assurance testing including identity, potency, microbiology, lead, and stability testing to reconfirm potency and microbiology at various time points from manufacture. We test every batch of raw material and finished product, refuse to conduct skip lot testing, and never rely on a supplier’s certificate of analysis.
Unless otherwise noted, Vital Nutrients products are also free from gluten, milk/dairy, soy protein, egg protein, sugar, artificial colorings, and preservatives, which is especially relevant for consumers with food intolerances or chemical sensitivities.
Capsules, Tablets, Additives, and Excipients
Magnesium supplements that are provided in the form of natural vegetarian or gelatin capsules are more easily digested and assimilated, compared to tablets which contain binders and shellacs that may decrease bioavailability and reduce digestibility. Encapsulating a powdered product only requires a hypoallergenic flow agent, and avoids undesirable additives used in tablets, such as magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide and propylene glycol (an ingredient also used in jet fuel and antifreeze).
Some manufacturers use magnesium stearate in small amounts as an excipient – a non-active ingredient that assists the physical process of making tablets and capsules, by helping the active ingredients to flow through the encapsulating or tableting machinery. In the past, a number of claims have been made about the dangers of magnesium stearate, from interfering with absorption to acting as a toxin and immunosuppressant.
While most of these claims have not been well supported by scientific research, Vital Nutrients and a few other professional supplement manufacturers have responded to concerns from consumers and practitioners by replacing magnesium stearate with other more inert excipients and flow agents, such as cellulose powder, rice powder, leucine or ascorbyl palmitate.
The quest for a high-quality magnesium supplement requires close reading of labels to find a product that is subject to independent third-party lab analysis for identity, potency, and purity and manufactured without environmental contaminants, common allergens, or unnecessary excipients.
About Vital Nutrients
Vital Nutrients is a supplement manufacturer committed to taking any steps necessary to provide consistent and clinically effective supplements. Every batch of our supplements is subjected to comprehensive testing for quality, purity, and potency, using independent US labs which we regularly audit. This comprehensive approach to quality assurance allows the consumer to know for sure what is in their magnesium supplement, and what is not.