What You Will Learn in This Article
- Types of Magnesium
- Food Sources of Magnesium
- What is The Magnesium Rotation Method?
- How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
- How to Follow The Magnesium Rotation Method
If you want to achieve balanced hormones and optimal health, it’s important to achieve adequate levels of magnesium. Think you’re easily getting your RDA? Most of us aren’t. In fact, researchers have estimated that up to 75% of those who live in the United States may be deficient in magnesium.
Magnesium is needed for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. The downstream effects of these enzyme reactions can affect inflammation levels, hormone production, blood sugar balance, digestion, sleep quality, and so much more. For that reason, a deficiency in this important mineral can seriously lower your quality of life.
The good news is that there are supplements that can complement your intake from your favorite healthy foods.
When you look at the various types of magnesium supplements out there, you may get overwhelmed with the variety that’s now available.
Do all types of magnesium all work the same way? No. With magnesium supplements, form determines function.
Some magnesium supplements are best avoided due to their poor absorption or negative side effects. At the same time, a number of magnesium forms are very effective, yet differ in their benefits. The synergy of a few types of magnesium taken together can go a long way in optimizing your health.
Types of Magnesium
In order to create a supplement that delivers magnesium to the body in a recognizable form, a molecule of magnesium is attached to a carrier like an amino acid (glycine, arginine, taurine). Magnesium may also be attached to an organic acid like citrate. Because magnesium can be bound to so many different organic or amino acids, you end up with a wide array of options:
- Pico ionic
… and the list goes on. If you’d like to learn more about these different types and what they can do for you, see my article, “Which Form of Magnesium is Right for You?”
Before you get too overwhelmed, I’m going to give you a few natural sources of magnesium followed by a method that helps you get in four highly recommended forms of magnesium on a daily basis.
Food Sources of Magnesium
If you’ve followed my work for a while, you know that I’m all about fixing your health with food. Or, at least: Starting with a diet as a foundation. For many years, I used to poo poo supplements until I came to a realization with my own health that I need to supplement (not with too many, but some key nutrients), in order to stay healthy.
So yes, while you can absolutely get some magnesium from the foods you eat, it’s difficult to get the recommended intake day after day, particularly since our soil is depleted and our digestion is compromised. Additionally, the absorption of magnesium from foods is about 30% to 40%, so even if a serving of food has a certain number of milligrams of magnesium, that doesn’t mean that’s how much you’re getting in.
Here are some higher-in-magnesium foods and the amounts of magnesium provided:
(*This listing is not a recommendation of how much to eat of each of these, but to show how much it would take to get a good amount of magnesium)
- Almonds – 1 cup (320 mg)
- Cashews – 1 cup (370 mg)
- Black Beans – 3 cups (360 mg)
- Cooked spinach – 2 cups cooked (312 mg)
- Avocado – 6 cups! (264 mg)
- Broccoli – 10 cups! (240 mg)
- Halibut – 6 (3 oz fillet) servings! (144 mg)
- Chicken breast – 3 ½ cups cooked (132 mg)
You can see how you have to take in quite a large amount of each of those foods to make an impact on your magnesium status. The recommended dietary allowance (RDI) of magnesium for *healthy* people is around 400 mg per day. But remember only about 30-40% of magnesium from foods is absorbed by the body. Can you do 2 cups of cooked spinach a day? Maybe if you’re Popeye the Sailor. For the rest of us, it might be a little difficult.
Also, these numbers don’t take into account things like oxalates (high in spinach), phytates (high in nuts and seeds), and the balance of magnesium and calcium in each food. Certain foods will also give you an excess of calories for the amount of magnesium they contain – Four ounces of almonds is about 1 cup, and there are over 800 calories in 1 cup of almonds.
You can learn more about boosting your magnesium naturally (including through foods) by reading this article.
What is The Magnesium Rotation Method?
The magnesium rotation method is a quick and easy way to optimize your magnesium levels without having to micromanage your food intake. Like I said earlier, replenishing isn’t easy and most people won’t eat 2 cups of cooked spinach per day to get 400mg of magnesium. Furthermore, most women need more than 400mg of magnesium per day.
The idea is to capitalize on the benefits that are unique to each magnesium form throughout the day.
To leverage the various types of magnesium, you can capitalize on their benefits by rotating it in the following manner:
Take an energy-boosting magnesium in the morning with breakfast.
Magnesium form: Malate.
Take digestion- and relaxation-promoting magnesium with a meal.
Magnesium form: Glycinate.
Apply a muscle-soothing and sleep-promoting magnesium before bed.
Magnesium form: Chloride. (Please note: This is a different compound from chlorine found in tap water.)
When Constipated or Traveling
A magnesium that specifically helps with constipation is used as needed for symptom relief and to help keep you regular during long periods of sitting and dehydration – like when you’re traveling.
Magnesium form: Citrate.
The magnesium supplements used for this method include magnesium malate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium citrate. You can learn more about what each of these forms of magnesium does for you here.
The magnesium rotation method might help you if…
- You suffer from chronic constipation
- You have cognitive symptoms like brain fog
- You struggle with insomnia and/or have difficulty staying asleep
- You get headaches or migraines
- You suffer from serious PMS
- You experience hot flashes and night sweats
- You experience depression and/or anxiety
- You have frequent chocolate cravings (cacao is high in magnesium)
- You have high blood pressure or an elevated pulse
- You suffer from chronic fatigue or have a general feeling of weakness.
- You tend to quickly get exhausted when you exercise
- You experience muscle pain, cramps, and spasms (such as a “Charlie Horse” in the legs)
- You have tingling in the legs or have been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- You have an irregular heartbeat and palpitations
- You get occasional chest pain (due to spasms in your heart muscle)
How to Follow the Magnesium Rotation Method
If you’re wanting to increase your magnesium over the course of each day and benefit from four of my top recommended supplement forms, then try the Magnesium Rotation Method.
My recommended daily Magnesium Rotation Plan is as follows:
Breakfast (6 to 8am)
Magnesium Malate (1 capsule providing 180 mg magnesium). This form of magnesium will help promote sustained energy levels and mental vitality throughout the day along with healthy cardiovascular function. Take 1 capsule with or immediately following breakfast.
Dinner (5 to 7pm)
Magnesium Glycinate (1 to 2 capsules providing 150 to 300 mg magnesium). This form of magnesium will help promote sleep, easy bowel movements, and relaxation in general. Take 1-2 capsules (depending on magnesium status and/or goals) with or immediately following dinner.
Bedtime (9 to 10pm)
Magnesium Chloride (¼ tsp applied to arms and legs, providing 150 mg magnesium). This form of magnesium will help relax your muscles to avoid cramps and pain, reduce hot flashes and promote good, uninterrupted sleep. If you find that the magnesium is tingling, wash it off after 20 minutes – that’s the time needed to get absorbed.
As needed; for constipation or travel
Magnesium Citrate (1 teaspoon provides 300 mg magnesium). This form of magnesium helps promote bowel regularity and soft stools. It also helps calm the nervous system for relaxed travel.
Start with 1 teaspoon and titrate up until you get a bowel movement or loose stool. You can add it to a mug of warm water, which can additionally ease constipation, or mix with your choice of juice. If you’re taking it before bedtime, you might want to add it to some tart cherry juice, which can additionally help with sleep and pain.
For travel, add a good amount to a small ziplock bag along with a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon. Keep it in your carry-on bag to easily add to hot water or even green tea during your flight.
The Magnesium Rotation Kit (Save $13)
We’ve made the Magnesium Rotation Method as simple as possible (and more affordable) with our Magnesium Rotation Kit. With this kit, you’ll get all four forms of magnesium discussed earlier, each with their own benefits.
- Magnesium Replenish (magnesium bisglycinate): digestion and relaxation-promoting; less likely to be stimulating or cause gastrointestinal symptoms
- Mag Energy (magnesium malate): energy-boosting, good for fatigue
- Quick Magnesium (magnesium chloride): muscle-soothing and sleep-promoting; topical application bypasses the gut
- Magnesium Citrate Powder (magnesium citrate): helpful with constipation and when traveling
Here’s what some of our customers have to say about our four magnesium products:
Plus, you’ll save $13.15 by purchasing this bundle, instead of purchasing each supplement individually.
If you would prefer to purchase just the individual supplements, you can get them here:
Meeting (and sometimes surpassing) your recommended daily intake of magnesium is critical to so many functions in your body, including inflammation levels, hormone production, blood sugar balance, digestion, and sleep quality.
This method has been optimized to meet your magnesium intake in the most effective, beneficial way possible. I hope you try it, and see how it helps you function at your best.
Please let me know how it goes for you, we always love to hear from our readers.
How Much Magnesium Do You Need?
This Magnesium Rotation Method will give you 480 to 630 mg of magnesium per day, plus an additional 300 mg for the days you need that extra digestive support from Mag Citrate.
The U.S. RDA for adults over age 30 is 320 mg (women) to 420 mg (men) each day. In reality, many women and medical conditions may require higher doses of magnesium. Some may need more; some may do fine on less.
Here is a simple method for you to find out how much magnesium you need.
To know if you need a higher dose, try the “bowel tolerance test” described below. Note, this test should be done using magnesium glycinate.
This means you go up in doses every two days until your stool becomes loose. Some women are so depleted (stress and sugar are common magnesium robbers) that they need as much 1200 mg per day to replenish their reserves. Once you get a loose stool, back off to a lower dose.
Here is an example and a hypothetical situation:
- Day 1 – 300 mg per day – regular stool or constipation
- Day 2 – 300 mg per day – regular stool or constipation
- Day 3 – 600 mg per day (300 mg in the morning and 300 mg at night) – regular stool or constipation
- Day 4 – 600 mg per day (300 mg in the morning and 300 mg at night) – regular stool or constipation
- Day 5 – 900 mg per day (600 mg in the morning and 300 mg at night) – regular stool or constipation
- Day 6 – 900 mg per day (600 mg in the morning and 300 mg at night) – loose stool
- Day 7 – Back off to 600 mg per day (300mg in the morning and 300 mg at night) to go back to regular stool.
Continue taking 600 mg of magnesium glycinate per day until you develop loose stool, then back off again. If not, stay on this dose. Magnesium is one nutrient I recommend taking long-term. In times of stress, you may need to increase the dose.
Extra considerations for topical magnesium
Magnesium chloride (which is the Quick Magnesium) can cause skin sensitivity, sting or burn for some people. Some tips to reduce the potential for itch or sting include:
- Taking a warm bath or shower about 20 minutes after application.
- Making sure not to apply to skin that is extra sensitive (after shaving or after sunbathing)
- Applying the magnesium to the least sensitive part of your skin — the bottoms of your feet – instead of arms or legs.
- Following up application with a soothing natural lotion or aloe vera gel.
Beckstrand, Renea L. Beneficial Effects of Magnesium Supplementation. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. 2011.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website. Updated online October 11, 2019.
Tammaro, A. Magnesium stearate: an underestimated allergen. Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents. Oct-Dec, 2012.
Patel, Kamal. Magnesium. Examine.com. Updated November 15, 2019.
Dean, Carolyn. The Magnesium Miracle, Ballantine Books, December 26, 2006.
Last, Walter. Magnesium Chloride for Health and Rejuvenation. Nexus Magazine. Oct-Nov, 2008.
Engen, Deborah J. et al. Effects of transdermal magnesium chloride on quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia: a feasibility study. Journal of Integrative Medicine. September, 2015.
Title photo by Priscilla Du Preez