Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means your body can’t produce it and you must get if 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 insomnia, inflammation, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Yet, almost half of the US population is depleted in magnesium.
You can replenish low levels through magnesium-rich foods like seaweed, cruciferious vegetables, fish, 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 breakdown the different 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
- Headaches and migraines
- Feeling constantly fatigued or weak
- Depression, anxiety, and edginess
- Craving chocolate (cacao is high in magnesium)
- Quick exhaustion during exercise
- Insomnia and mid-night waking
Magnesium and Hormones
Let’s not forget that magnesium also plays a huge role in hormonal balance. Namely:
1. Magnesium improves the thyroid function.
2. Magnesium supports estrogen detoxification of harmful metabolites.
3. Magnesium lowers blood sugar levels.
4. Magnesium lowers adrenalin and cortisol.
5. Magnesium supports testosterone production.
6. Magnesium increases serotonin.
7. Magnesium increases DHEA.
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:
Magnesium Bisglycinate (My 1st choice):
Helps with PMS, fibrocystic breasts, sleep, anxiety, cravings, pains, cramps.
Also known as magnesium chelate, magnesium diglycinate, magnesium glycinate. It is a highly absorbable form of magnesium chelated to two molecules of the amino acid glycine.
This is the form of magnesium I take every day. I would double up to 600mg, or even 800mg 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.
Yet, it helps with PMS, fibrocystic breasts, sleep, anxiety, cravings, pains, and cramps.
The brand I use and recommend: Magnesium Replenish
Magnesium citrate: Helps with chronic 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.
This is a good form for you If you feel depleted in magnesium (based on the symptoms) and struggle with chronic constipation. Whenever I travel, I bring along a bottle of citrate to keep things moving.
The brand I use and recommend: MagnesiumCitrate
Magnesium malate: Helps with fatigue, fibromyalgia.
Another type of magnesium bound to malic acid. For those having issues with energy production, a magnesium malate supplement may be effective for helping with chronic fatigue syndrome and/or fibromyalgia.
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).
The brand I recommend: Magnesium Malate.
Magnesium threonate: Helps with memory and preventing cognitive decline.
Threonate is a form of magnesium chelated to threonic acid, a metabolite of vitamin C.
This form of magnesium in comparison to others 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.
Magnesium chloride: Helps with pain reduction, anxiety and insomnia.
Good for external use.
Chloride is a form of magnesium for topical use. 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.
The brand 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.
See video below for more discussion on these forms of magnesium:
Oxide contains a lot of magnesium by weight but has a bioavailability of only 4%. This form is found in many magnesium supplements and should be avoided. Therefore, I have no brands to recommend here. I’ve also found that many MLM (multi-level marketing companies) use this form of magnesium in their product line-ups.
Used as a coating agent in supplements and not soluble in water. This form of magnesium should be avoided.
Only has 4% bioavailability and can cause negative reactions. Companies that use it tend to add other low-quality ingredients. I do not recommend using it at all.
It is derived from lactic acid which is milk. I recommend avoiding dairy in any form.
Studies show that it does not dissolve well in water, its bioavailability is therefore low.
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I hope this article was helpful in getting you on board to replenish your magnesium levels and 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.