You might be interested in taking a magnesium supplement, but do you know which one is best for your body’s needs? Different types of magnesium vary in terms of their absorption, desired effects and potential side effects, since not all magnesium supplements are created the same. Choosing the right magnesium supplement can be overwhelming, so here’s what you need to know to help narrow your search.
What are the benefits of magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential mineral, which hundreds of everyday body processes rely upon. Everything from energy production, to regulating muscle health, to supporting the nervous system and helping maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Magnesium cannot be made in the body and needs to be obtained from our food and water. Nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and unprocessed wholegrains are rich in magnesium.1 Legumes, fruit, meat and fish are also good sources.1
Signs the body might need more magnesium
Despite how essential magnesium is for the body, plenty of people are not getting enough through their diet. Statistics show that one in three people aren’t meeting their daily magnesium targets.2 The dietary intake of magnesium in the western world is decreasing in part due to the consumption of processed foods, which have a much lower magnesium content.1 Ongoing stress can also deplete the body of magnesium3, compounding the problem.
The potential signs and symptoms that the body might need more magnesium include:4
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps and mild spasms
- Fatigue and weakness
- Pins and needles
People who lead stressful busy lives might have higher magnesium needs. Not only because stress depletes the body’s magnesium levels, but because low magnesium increases the effects of stress, thus leading to a vicious cycle. Athletes might also be at risk of deficiency, due to an increased utilisation of magnesium during exercise.5 Magnesium requirements are 10-20% higher for regular exercisers than sedentary people.5
What are the different forms of magnesium?
If you think you’re not getting enough of this vital nutrient through food, you might consider a magnesium supplement. There are many different forms of magnesium on the supplement market including magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate and magnesium diglycinate - and some are more efficient than others. Each type of magnesium has different properties. They vary depending on their bioavailability (how easy it is for the body to absorb them) and their tolerability. For example, the common magnesium form, magnesium oxide has much lower bioavailability than its counterparts and can also have a laxative effect.6 Magnesium citrate has better bioavailability than magnesium oxide and may be a better choice.7 However, when it comes to superior magnesium supplements, magnesium diglycinate prevails.
Why is Magnesium Diglycinate better8,9?
Magnesium diglycinate (Meta Mag®) consistently demonstrates superior absorption when compared to magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. It is also better tolerated, reducing the common bowel effects experienced with other magnesium forms.
Does the format matter?
Whether you take magnesium tablets or magnesium powder is a matter of preference and whatever is easiest for you to incorporate into your daily routine.
Magnesium powder might suit older people who have trouble swallowing tablets or athletes/exercisers who want a rehydration drink after a workout. Other people might find magnesium tablets to be more convenient.
Ethical Nutrients, Australia’s #1 magnesium brand, has a range of magnesium supplements to suit a variety of needs. All magnesium products feature the high strength, easily absorbed and tolerated magnesium diglycinate, Meta Mag®, and come in a range of tablet and powder formulations that work with your body to assist energy production and muscle health or relieve the symptoms of stress and support healthy sleeping patterns.
- Jahnen-Dechent W et al 2012, ‘Magnesium Basics’, Clin Kidney J, volume 5, suppl 1, pp i3-i14
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes 2011-12, viewed 14 November 2022, <https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/latest-release>
- Pickering G et al 2020, ‘Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited’, Nutrients, vol 28, no 12, p3672, < https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33260549/>
- Health Direct 2021, Magnesium, Australian government: Department of health and aged care, viewed 14 November, <https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/magnesium-deficiency>
- Pollock N et al, 2020, ‘An 8 year analysis of magnesium status in elite international track and field athletes’, J Am Coll Nutr, vol 39, no 5, pp443-449
- Blancquert L et al, 2019, ‘Predicting and testing availability of magnesium supplements’, Nutrients, vol 11, no 7, p 1663
- Kappeler D et al, 2017, ‘Higher bioavailability of magnesium citrate as compared to magnesium oxide shown by evaluation of urinary excretion and serum levels after single-dose administration in a randomized cross-over study’, BMC Nutrition, vol 3, no 7
- Hartle J et al 2016, ‘Development of a model for in-vitro comparative absorption of magnesium from five magnesium sources commonly used as dietary supplements’, FASEB Journal, vol 128, no 6
- Graff D 2000, ‘Bioavailability of magnesium chelazome’, Research Notes, vol 9, no 1, pp2-3