25 Different Forms of Magnesium, which One is Right For You?
Oral Magnesium supplementation should be apart of your daily Magnesium protocol but how do you know which one is right for you? Making your way through the supplement aisle is stressful enough but having to decipher which magnesium is right for you can cause major anxiety. So, we will share what we have learned.
First, magnesium is one of the only supplements that you can take without disrupting other minerals. People often believe that supplementing is a high-low game and when one vitamin or mineral is low or high, you take something to elevate it or eliminate it. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that and there are consequences for treating your vitamin and mineral status this way. There is only once exception to this rule and that is Magnesium.
Second, even though there are 25 different types of magnesium, not all of them are going to work. You are going to have to do a lot of N=1 experimentation to learn which ones benefit your body best. What works for your friend might not benefit you. To start out with, a very small percentage of people will have increased excitability and anxiety with oral magnesium supplementation due to severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies, nutritional imbalances as well as the use of Benzodiazepines drugs like Xanax. If you experience increased anxiety switch forms. Also, beware of additives, fillers and heavy metals and contaminants in your supplements. This is a very real problem and will contribute to anxiety, dis-ease and health problems. Labdoor is a great app to download so you can check ALL your supplements for toxicity and truth. Many supplement companies use clever marketing rather than good practices. One good example is the very popular supplement company Natural Vitality and their Natural Calm. They received such a bad rating from Labdoor because their product does not contain the amount of magnesium it claims and is contaminated with high levels of arsenic.
Third, many people have a difficult time absorbing magnesium supplements. Magnesium supplements are only absorbed when the magnesium is dissolved. So making sure the magnesium actually dissolves is key and some magnesium supplements have a laxative effect. We cannot stress enough to always start low and slow with your new magnesium supplementation protocol. Think of it as a long term relationship. You start off dating, then you fall in love, then you get engaged and then comes the wedding etc. It's a process and a commitment. Just like relationships, if you try to get married after your first date, it's going to be disastrous. If you take too much magnesium at one time -- especially in the beginning -- you are going to experience stomach upset and diarrhea that could last for a few hours or a few days and keep you glued to the toilet. Diarrhea will cause the magnesium to run through you, inhibit absorption and deplete you of even more magnesium and other vitamins and minerals which is the exact opposite of what you want. Start with a low dose and BUILD UP to a higher dose over time. You can even take different magnesium supplements throughout the day to spread the dosage out. Experiment with different brands and types --one at a time -- until you find your perfect combination.
TIP: we find the more steaks and red meat we eat, the less oral magnesium we need! The more carbs you eat, the more vitamins and minerals your body needs. People who eat high carbs, lots of sugar and processed foods will always be struggling with magnesium deficiency.
Some of our favorites
Magnesium 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 is great for anxiety, insomnia, brain injuries, PTSD, depression, neuro conditions, anxiety, and age-related cognitive decline.
Magnesium Orotate was made for cardiovascular and neurological problems specifically MS.
Magnesium Malate is a type of magnesium bound to malic acid. Malic acid is a compound naturally found in fruits in vegetables and when bound to magnesium, creates magnesium malate. Malate is involved in your body’s Krebs Cycle, which is where energy is created for your cells. So this is great for energy production and works well for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, muscle pain and weakness or general muscle issues. It has the ability to bind to toxic metals like aluminum. It is great for relaxing your muscles and it helps many people sleep when taken before bedtime. This is one we love and seems to work well for getting a really good night's sleep.
Magnesium Taurate is great for your heart. Your heart has an infinity for taurine and many Cardiologists recommend this and Orotate to their heart patients. Dr. Sinatra has his own brand Magnesium Broad-Spectrum Complex that he recommends to all of his heart patients.
Magnesium Glycinate - is a highly absorbable form of magnesium chelated to two molecules of the amino acid glycine. Glycine is a calming amino acid and is the best choice for a chelate because it is the smallest amino acid giving it the greatest absorption potential. This form of magnesium allows for larger amounts of magnesium to be absorbed more quickly and be better retained by the body, as compared to other forms. It is great for leaky gut, nerve pain and is very calming and relaxing to the nervous system.
Magnesium Sulfate - Epsom salt baths -- see below.
Magnesium Lactate - is a muscle relaxant.
Magnesium Citrate - very inexpensive but not recommended as it causes diarrhea, stomach problems and may interfere with ceruloplasmin and iron dysregulation and health issues.
TIP: “Chelated” means 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.
You can take several kinds of magnesium supplements to meet your magnesium needs. Some brands combine several forms of magnesium like taurate, glycinate, and orotate in one supplement, the only problem is if one of them should trigger you, you won't know which one it is. Remember, some magnesium forms, like magnesium glycinate, can increase and trigger anxiety attacks and rev up the nervous system instead of giving you the relaxing feeling you are looking for. So we recommend starting out with magnesium malate or threonate and see how you do.
The most effective magnesium supplements seem to be Magnesium Malate and Glycinate. They are the second most absorbable oral forms at about 70 to 80% absorption but remember glycinate has been problematic for some people. Ionic Elemental Magnesium Chloride is the most absorbable form of Magnesium. You have to measure it out and add it to water or some sort of liquid several times a day.
Here is a list of magnesium supplements that have been tested and rated by Labdoor. Another company worth looking into is CORGANIC but their products haven't been tested or rated.
As magnesium is difficult to absorb in high levels no matter what kind you use, a topical form can be an amazing way to add more magnesium to your body.
For anyone having difficulty taking oral magnesium due to laxative effects, malabsorption reasons or inability to take therapeutic levels, topical is the way to go. Many of our customers have reported fantastic results using this form of magnesium; from pain reduction, feeling calmer, to deeper/longer sleep.
Transdermal elemental magnesium chloride bypasses the digestive system and has been proven to be highly absorbable and elevate magnesium levels as much as a Magnesium Chloride IV. This is what we use in our MOONMAG Organic SkinCare's Magnesium Creams and Balms and other products.
TIP: Your lowest in Magnesium in the morning. Upon waking, rub your body down with our Vital Vortex Pain Relief Magnesium Cream and our Supernova Pain Relief Balm. Not only do they take away aches and pains, but they also increase your magnesium levels without causing stomach upset or diarrhea.
TIP: Why does my magnesium cream make me so damn itchy? There are several theories floating around. One is that this is due to the fact that you have low magnesium levels and as you increase your levels you will experience less itchiness. This theory has never been actually tested, but it seems to be true. However, dermatologist believes it is the pH of magnesium is very different from the pH of your skin and doesn't necessarily mean you are deficient in magnesium. The pH for magnesium chloride is 7.5 and Magnesium Sulfate or Epsom salt ranges between 5.5 to 6.5. The skin is naturally acid with an average pH is 4.7.
When using magnesium salts for balneotherapy, plain Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) from CVS or Walgreens are the most convenient way to go, especially if you are low in sulfur, you will really benefit from a warm Epsom Salt bath. Sulfur is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and is also an analgesic (natural pain killer).
TIP: your body has natural built-in pain management mechanisms -- or fire-fighters --and they are called magnesium and sulfur. Both magnesium and sulfur are analgesic. They put out the fires of inflammation and reduce pain. Naturally, when you are low in either of these minerals you will have high levels of inflammation and pain.
If you don't have a bathtub try a foot soak. The same rules apply as a bath but you are just soaking your feet instead of your entire body. You can watch TV or read a book while you soak your feet sitting on your favorite chair or couch. Make this relaxing and enjoyable.
Make sure you try to stay in the bath for at least 40 minutes to receive the full benefits. You can add organic baking soda to help detox and 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil to give your skin a silky smooth boost.
Tip: to get the full benefits of balneotherapy, try taking a bath or doing a foot soak 2 to 3x's a week, combined with daily oral supplementation and transdermal application you will notice many immediate benefits like:
- fewer aches and pains
- more energy
- fewer muscle cramps
- better sleep
- better attention
- fewer headaches
- lowered blood pressure (work with your doctor if you are taking high blood pressure medication. DO NOT quit your blood pressure medication without working with your doctor. This can be dangerous and in some cases fatal).
Magnesium blood levels and testing
According to some experts, you want your magnesium levels at the very minimum to be between 6.0-6.5mg/dL, but other experts argue (rightfully so) 6.6mg/dL or greater for optimal levels because modern lab tests for Magnesium RBC (red blood cell count) are based on the levels in a population that is already 80% deficient in magnesium. Thus the results they get are not “normal” and not “optimal.” A 6.0-6.5mg/dL puts you in the 80th percentile. You really want to be above that! Your doctor will be satisfied with the current standard range of 4.2-6.8mg/dL. You do not want to be at 4.2mg/dL. So aim for 6.5mg/dL+ but don't stress out about it.
An Ionized Magnesium Blood Test is the most accurate recording of the magnesium levels in your cells but it is not readily available today and is difficult to get. The next best test is the Magnesium RBC blood test and you can order it on your own and monitor your own magnesium levels. The company is called Request A Test, and the price is $49.00. Don't get discouraged if you are low, it takes time to change your lifestyle, increase your magnesium levels and to recognize and eliminate the triggers that cause you to run through your magnesium.
Check with your doctor first, but one or two cups of Epsom Salt in a bath isn't going to provide much therapeutic benefit or increase your magnesium levels. You really need to use a 4lb to 6lb bag of plain Epsom salts to get the full benefits. However, if you have high blood pressure or are on blood pressure-lowering medication you will want to check with your doctor as magnesium naturally lowers your blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, it may lower your blood pressure even further. So talk with your doctor and be mindful that magnesium naturally lowers your blood pressure. Start out with smaller quantities and work your way up.