What You Will Learn in This Article
- How Magnesium Impacts Hormones
- Recommended Types of Magnesium and How to Use
- Which Magnesium Supplements to Avoid
Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means your body can’t produce it and you must get it from food or supplements. This key mineral is responsible for helping your body complete around 300 enzyme responses — many of these responses impact on your natural hormone balance. Not getting enough magnesium can lead to detoxification issues, insomnia, inflammation, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Yet, almost half of the U.S. population is depleted in magnesium.
You can replenish low levels through magnesium-rich foods like seaweed, cacao and chocolate, cashews, cruciferous vegetables, brown rice and bananas. However, sometimes, even if you are eating all the right foods, you will still need to supplement.
You may have come across various forms of magnesium – glycinate, citrate, malate, threonate, oxide, chloride.
But, before you hit that purchase button, it’s important to find the right type of magnesium for you.
Below, I will break down some of the most popular types of magnesium and their benefits. I will also talk about the types of magnesium I do not recommend and why.
Before that, here are a few more symptoms of low magnesium to look out for:
- Muscle pain, cramps, and spasms from feet cramps to chest pain (due to spasms in your heart muscle), and even restless leg syndrome
- Insomnia and mid-night waking
- Chronic constipation
- Headaches and migraines
- Feeling constantly fatigued or weak
- Depression, anxiety, and edginess
- Craving chocolate (cacao is high in magnesium)
- Quick exhaustion during exercise
Magnesium and Hormones
Let’s not forget that magnesium also plays a huge role in hormonal balance. Namely, magnesium:
- Improves thyroid function
- Helps address estrogen dominance
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Balances adrenaline and cortisol
- Supports testosterone production
- Increases serotonin levels
- Increases the youth hormone, DHEA
For those of you wanting to do a deeper dive into this topic, you can read our article about how to boost magnesium here.
Forms of Magnesium That Will Help
Magnesium comes from many different types and from many different sources. The absorption of magnesium from supplements varies as much as it does from food. Magnesium supplements are made by attaching a molecule of magnesium to a carrier of some sort: An amino acid (glycine, arginine, taurine) or an organic acid like citrate. This helps make the magnesium into a form that is recognized and absorbed by the body.
Because magnesium can be bound to so many different carriers, you end up with a wide array of options: Glycinate, malate, chloride, taurate, sulfate, arginate, lysinate, ascorbate, fumarate, gluconate, carbonate, orotate, threonate… the list continues.
I know it could be a bit overwhelming, but I’m going to cut to the chase and give you forms I especially recommend and forms to avoid.
Not all supplements are made the same and magnesium is no different. Here is a low-down to help you understand each form of magnesium.
For Depression, Anxiety, Relaxation, and Overall Wellbeing:
Magnesium Bisglycinate (My 1st choice)
Magnesium glycinate (magnesium chelate, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium diglycinate) is a well-absorbed form of magnesium that is chelated to two molecules of the amino acid, glycine. Glycine is a very relaxing amino acid that can help calm anxiety and promote sleep.
This is the form of magnesium I take every day. I would double up to 600 mg, or even 800 mg per day if I’m stressed, or when I’m traveling (also a form of stress).
“Chelated” forms of a mineral mean that an amino acid has been attached to them making them a very stable form of magnesium that is less likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms and reduces the laxative effect. This type of magnesium also helps with PMS, cramps, pain, fibrocystic breasts, cravings, and sleep.
According to Examine.com, Magnesium glycinate is also the best choice of magnesium supplement to use when “superloading” or taking more magnesium than is generally recommended in order to correct a deficiency.
The product I recommend: Magnesium Replenish.
For Energy and Pain:
Another type of magnesium bound to malic acid. Magnesium malate is an energy-promoting form of magnesium that works by helping the body create ATP, the energy currency of our cells. This form of magnesium is often recommended to those struggling with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. For those having issues with energy production, a magnesium malate supplement may be effective for helping with chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia. The malic acid also helps bind toxic metals like aluminum in the body. In addition to the metal detox, it also promotes liver detoxification and good digestion by improving bile flow.
No surprise, this form may be too stimulating for some and may disrupt sleep, especially when taken at night (I had this experience first hand). Therefore, take it in the morning or no later than early afternoon.
The recommended dose is 300 to 400mg per day.
The product recommend: Mag Energy.
For cardiovascular support (including circulation)
This form of magnesium is bound to the amino acid, taurine. Taurine reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and increases the calming neurotransmitter, GABA. Magnesium taurate is used to increase circulation, which can have positive benefits throughout the body. For instance, in animal studies, magnesium taurate has been used to delay the onset and progression of cataracts. Try 500 mg at bedtime.
The product I recommend: Cardiovascular Research
For Memory and Preventing Cognitive Decline
Threonate is a form of magnesium chelated to threonic acid, a metabolite of vitamin C. This form of magnesium distinguishes itself from others in that it was created to cross the blood-brain barrier. It may, therefore, improve learning and memory functions and maybe be especially beneficial for age-related cognitive decline. The suggested dose is 2,000 mg of magnesium threonate.
The brand I recommend: Pure Encapsulations.
For Pain and Cramp Reduction (Topically)
Magnesium chloride is a form of magnesium that can lower anxiety, reduce pain, and help promote restful sleep. Historically, it was used topically as an antiseptic. Not only is magnesium chloride a great antimicrobial treatment when given topically, it also delivers magnesium directly into the bloodstream. The skin is a great way to increase magnesium levels and bypass using the gut – this is especially beneficial for people with IBS (or leaky gut) who suffer from malabsorption of nutrients.
Additionally, if you’re not keen on the energizing aspect of magnesium malate for muscle pain (like when you’re trying to settle down for a good night’s sleep), magnesium chloride was also shown to be beneficial for fibromyalgia symptoms.
The product I recommend: Quick Magnesium.
It is a pure, 100% natural solution of magnesium chloride, coming from high-quality magnesium salt derived from the depths of the earth’s interior – all from the ancient Zechstein Seabed in Europe. Ultra-pure and untouched by pollutants, this magnesium salt was protected at depths of 5,000-6,500 feet in this seabed for the past 250 million years.
Many of our program participants have reported fantastic results using this form of magnesium; from pain reduction, feeling calmer, to deeper/longer sleep.
You can’t overdo this form of magnesium – so apply as much as you need and wherever you need it. One teaspoon will give you 600mg of magnesium and it needs 20 minutes to get absorbed. If you find it too tingling, you can either combine it with any carrier oil (such as castor or coconut oil) or wash it off after 20 minutes.
For chronic or travel constipation
Another chelated type of magnesium bound to citric acid. This form of magnesium is about 30% bioavailable, but it pulls water into the bowels giving it more of a laxative effect, which some may like if suffering from chronic constipation. For a deeper dive into constipation, check out this article.
It’s a great form of magnesium for if you’re struggling with constipation or plan to be sitting for long periods of time, like on a long flight. Whenever I travel, I bring along a bottle of Magnesium Citrate to keep things moving.
The brand I use and recommend: Magnesium Citrate
See video below for more discussion on these forms of magnesium:
Forms of Magnesium that should be avoided
This magnesium has a bioavailability of only 4%, so it would take a lot to do any good. It can also cause negative reactions for some people – we’ve had readers report developing joint pain and GI problems. A Taiwanese study of the elderly found that those who used magnesium oxide supplements (often as a laxative or antacid) were 66% more likely to develop a hip fracture over a 5-year period.
This form is found in many magnesium supplements and should be avoided. Companies that use it tend to use other low-quality ingredients. If you see Magnesium oxide on a label, it’s a good indication that the supplement brand you’re looking at is cutting corners and isn’t putting quality and your health as a top priority.
This magnesium is used as a coating agent in supplements and isn’t water-soluble. It’s not going to help you restore your magnesium levels at all. In fact, it’s even possible to have an allergy to Magnesium stearate. This form of magnesium should be avoided.
Magnesium lactate is derived from lactic acid, which is a product of bacterial fermentation. Magnesium lactate can also be dangerous for those with kidney disease as the extra lactic acid may irritate the kidneys.
Studies show that it does not dissolve well in water; that’s an indicator of its bioavailability, which is low. Additionally, aspartic acid is not something we want to get more of. In excess, it can be neurotoxic… like Aspartame.
I hope this article was helpful in getting you on board to replenish your magnesium levels and take one step closer to rebalancing your hormones. If you want to read up more about the causes of magnesium deficiency, the dosages and which are the magnesium-rich foods – read this article.
I also invite you to read about the four forms of magnesium that have proven themselves to be the most effective at rebalancing low levels. We’ve taken those forms and developed a rotation method to capitalize on the benefits that are unique to each magnesium form throughout the day. You can read more about the Magnesium Rotation Method here.
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionalsweight: 400;”>. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website. Updated online October 11, 2019.
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Volpe, Stella. Magnesium and the Athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports. July/August, 2015.
Sartori, S. B. et al. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. January, 2012.
Cinar, V. et al. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biological Trace Elements Research. April, 2011.
Serefko, A. et al. Magnesium in depression. Pharmacological Reports. 2013.
Sircus, Mark, AC, OMD, DM(P). Magnesium: the Lamp of Life – Chlorophyll, DNA, DHEA, and Cholesterol. Drsircus.com. December 8, 2009.
Patel, Kamel et al. Magnesium. Examine.com. Updated November 15, 2019.
Jia, Fan et al. Taurine Is a Potent Activator of Extrasynaptic GABAA Receptors in the Thalamus. Journal of Neuroscience. January, 2008.
Wu, Y. Y. et al. Magnesium oxide and hip fracture in the elderly: a population-based retrospective cohort analysis. Osteoporosis International. January 21, 2020.