“Just take some magnesium!” People are told to take magnesium, but don’t really receive proper guidance on what type, how much, and which way to take this important mineral. More guidance is needed! Magnesium cannot exist by itself; it must be bound to something, usually an amino acid. That amino acid determines the action of the magnesium, so it’s imperative to know why you are actually taking magnesium in the first place. You certainly don’t want to take the laxative magnesium if you are trying to stop your leg cramps!

What is Magnesium anyway?

Magnesium (Mg) is a cofactor for more than 600 different processes in the body–from muscle contraction and relaxation to DNA and RNA production, nerve function, energy production, and blood glucose control. Clinically, it is used for muscle cramps, restless legs, high blood pressure, constipation, and calming the nervous system. Insulin resistance in diabetes has a direct relationship to low magnesium levels.
The recommended requirement for magnesium consumption is 300-400 mg per day. Magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule in plants, so any dark green plant is a rich food source, as are avocados, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Getting enough magnesium for your body is a factor of healthy digestion, how well you absorb minerals, and how much your body is demanding the magnesium.

Why do we become magnesium depleted?

Inflammation, stress, exercise, diarrhea, leaky gut, and sweating all deplete magnesium. If your digestion isn’t optimal (meaning strong stomach acid, good pancreatic output, and healthy intestinal tissue), then magnesium is poorly absorbed. Adequate vitamin D levels are needed for magnesium absorption from the gut, so when our serum levels fall below 50, magnesium won’t get picked up, despite your leafy green intake.

Magnesium absorbs well through the skin, but with this method the exact quantity or milligrams one absorbs cannot be fully determined. Epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) and magnesium lotions, gels, or oils (usually magnesium chloride) can be a great way to apply magnesium if someone needs to bypass digestion or is just generally sensitive. Topical forms or epsom salts are great for muscle tension or spasm. But in certain cases, both oral and topical applications need to be used to fully support the depletion.

How do I find the best kind of magnesium for ME?

Remember, what magnesium is bonded to is actually the most important determinant for the magnesium you need. There is really no “toxic” dose of magnesium. If you take too much of any form, you would simply get a loose stool. Just discontinue taking the magnesium and the bowel movements should return to normal within 24-48 hours. You can resume your magnesium; just take less of it. Listed below are the various types of magnesium and the role they fulfill.

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium Oxide (MgO) is the magnesium bonded with an oxygen molecule. This compound is the least absorbed form of magnesium, meaning much of it stays in the bowel, making it the best laxative form of magnesium. It is also used as an antacid for indigestion and is the most concentrated elemental magnesium per dose, so you don’t have to take much of this to increase your magnesium levels. That said, a loose, watery stool is very common when taking too much, which can be easy to do. MagO7 from Aerobic Life contains very concentrated magnesium oxide, the most potent laxative magnesium.

Magnesium Citrate

This is one of the most common forms of magnesium on the commercial market. Magnesium is bonded to citric acid, which is absorbed in tissue using osmosis. Citrate is a larger molecule than oxide, so there is less magnesium by weight than in the oxide form. Because it pulls water into the bowel, magnesium citrate is also used for laxative purposes; it just may be better tolerated than MgO with less watery-diarrhea effect at low dosages. It is a little easier to titrate for laxative purposes. Pure Encapsulations’ Magnesium Citrate is very basic and concentrated enough per capsule so that you don’t have to take many caps to get to a therapeutic dose.

Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate

The amino acid glycine has various roles in the body. Glycine is used for the nervous system as a calming neurotransmitter, enhancing magnesium’s natural relaxation properties. This makes magnesium glycinate the pick for settling down the nervous system and promoting parasympathetic tone. Magnesium amino acid chelate is usually bonded to a variety of amino acids, which are all larger molecules. Every formula is different, so if you need just a general magnesium formula for a multitude of issues, the amino acid chelate could be the way to go. Magtech from Magtein is a very popular combination formula that is used for general magnesium support. It is a powdered formula that mixes easily in water.

Magnesium Taurate

Magnesium Taurate is certainly the pick for calming down blood pressure and regulating heart rhythm. Taurine is an amino acid that is known to support cardiac muscle and enhance the quality of contractions. Cardiac cells have the highest concentration of taurine receptors. When taurine binds to these receptors, magnesium floods into the cell. Magnesium helps the heart muscle relax and helps blood vessels that feed the heart to open and deliver more blood to the heart tissue itself. Cardiovascular Research’s Mag Taurate is highly concentrated and well priced.


Magnesium L-threonate

This form effectively crosses the blood brain barrier and has recently been studied for uses such as patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, ADD, ADHD, and brain injury recovery. A research study published in the medical journal Neuron reported that magnesium threonate creates improvement in learning abilities, brain fog, and both short and long-term memory. Additionally, it has the same benefits as any other magnesium, including enhancing sleep quality. OptiMag Neuro from Xymogen and iMagT from Magtein are two formulas of magnesium threonate that have been used with success for cognition support.

Let the knowledgeable wellness team at your favorite Peoples Rx location help choose the most suitable magnesium for you and your needs. And if a drinkable or gummy magnesium is up your alley, now is the time to stock up on Natural Vitality’s CALM products. They are 25% off throughout April!


Amy Nelson, ND* received her Naturopathic Doctorate from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR where she studied nutrition, homeopathy, herbal and functional medicine. In addition, Dr. Nelson was the Associate at The IBS Treatment Center in Santa Monica where she treated irritable bowel syndrome and complex food allergies. Dr. Nelson utilizes her experience in natural medicine to address female and male hormonal imbalances, mental health, and digestive disorders. Amy is available for consultation at Peoples North.
*Although licensed in other states, Naturopathic Doctors are not currently licensed in Texas.
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