The benefits of magnesium are vast, widespread and this is definitely not a mineral to simply overlook.
Of all the choices out there, which one should you get though?
When a supplement has more than 10 and close to 20 different forms, things become a bit confusing and you might feel hesitant.
Let’s clear up all this confusion.
Magnesium glycinate – has very high absorption and accumulates mostly in the liver and muscles, which would make it great to enhance insulin sensitivity, lower blood glucose, reduce cramps and improve liver function.
Magnesium taurate – has high absorption and accumulates in the brain (taurine, which is believed to have osmoregulator, neuromodulator, and neuroprotective effects, is one of the most abundant sulfur-containing amino acids in the CNS), eye lens and muscles and to a lesser extent elsewhere, which makes it great as a nootropic, reducing neurological inflammation, anxiety and depression and preventing cataracts and cramps (R, R). It can also help enhance exercise performance.
Magnesium citrate – has high absorption (25-30%) and accumulates in the muscle and to a lesser extent in the brain (R). Can be useful to reduce cramp. The citric acid chelates calcium and oxalates (also prevents the absorption of oxalates) in the body, which makes it effective against kidney stones (R).
Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesium) – It’s poorly absorbed and is used as an antacid (the hydroxide ions that enter the stomach are used to neutralize stomach acid) as well as a cathartic (the purification and purgation of emotions—particularly pity and fear) (R).
Magnesium mandelate – Not a very common form and not a lot of information on it. It’s mainly used as a urinary antiseptic (R).
Magnesium malate – absorption is good and accumulates very well in the muscle tissue (R).
Magnesium lysinate – L-lysine has been shown to act as a partial serotonin receptor 4 (5-HT4) antagonist, decreasing the brain-gut response to stress as well as decreasing blood cortisol levels (R). This would be a great form to stay calm and relaxed.
Magnesium orotate – has good absorption and accumulates in the cardiovascular system, which is extremely helpful against hypertension, protecting the heart against stress, heart failure and enhances exercise performance in those with heart problems, etc. (R, R, R).
Magnesium threonate – has good absorption and accumulates in the nervous system and can cross the blood brain barrier. It enhances synaptic plasticity, reduces neurological inflammation, lower anxiety, fear, memory deficits, increase BDNF and NMDAR signalling, activates the GABA-A receptor, etc. (R, R, R, R). There is no research that compares Mg threonate with Mg taurate and I’d advise to experiment with one and then the other to see which one works best for your goal because both accumulate in the nervous system and brain, which would make both good for mental health. The Mg taurate is just a lot cheaper.
Magnesium oxide – has a very poor absorption rate of between 4-8% (R).
Magnesium chloride, lactate, and aspartate – all three have high and similar bioavailability. Too much Mg chloride will increase the acid load on the body. Extra lactate will burden the liver and requires great amounts of ATP to convert lactate back to glucose (It’s best not to use it). Aspartate is an excitatory amino acid in the nervous system and should best be avoided for better forms (R).
Magnesium L-pidolate (pyroglutamate) – not a lot of information on the absorption of this form, but the pidolate and magnesium seem to work synergistically together and the pidolate have similar properties to theanine and piracetam (R). It’s also effective in the cardiovascular system and improves insulin sensitivity and other markers of diabetics. (Magniol is a good topical magnesium with high absorption)
Magnesium gluconate – Has high absorption similar to citrate.
Magnesium carbonate – It’s excellent at binding and reducing serum phosphorous, preventing kidney stones, improving kidney disease, reducing arterial calcification (R), etc. It’s very well tolerated (R).
Magnesium from magnesium-rich mineral water – has the highest absorption of 59% (R).
Keep in mind that all forms of magnesium will provide magnesium, which will be used by the whole body. The different forms provide different amino acids, sugars, acids, etc., which exerts additional different beneficial actions and help the magnesium go to specific areas.
To recover from a deficiency all forms would be good, except magnesium threonate, as it provides too little elemental magnesium.
My top 3 favourite magnesium supplements would be:
- Mg taurate (or Mg threonate)
- Mg glycinate
- Mg lysinate
It might be best to use a combination of all three rather than just one at a time. You can add in Mg orotate for extra heart protection and cardiovascular benefits.