Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions. Scientists estimate that up to 75% of us may be deficient in this essential mineral due to depletion in our food supply. Not everyone is aware that there are different forms of magnesium, and that each form has specific actions in the body. Here are some common types of magnesium supplements and their specific benefits by condition:

  1. Magnesium Citrate: This form of magnesium is well-absorbed and often used for its laxative effect. It can be helpful for relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. It’s also a good choice for individuals with a general magnesium deficiency as it is very affordable.
  2. Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium glycinate is a highly bioavailable and gentle form of magnesium. It is less likely to cause digestive upset or diarrhea compared to magnesium citrate. It’s often chosen for general magnesium supplementation and can help with muscle relaxation and anxiety.
  3. Magnesium Oxide: While magnesium oxide has a higher magnesium content by weight, it is less bioavailable than other forms, which means it may not be absorbed as efficiently. It is sometimes used as an antacid and to alleviate heartburn or indigestion. Because of it’s antacid effects, it is not the best choice for daily use.
  4. Magnesium L-Threonate: This form of magnesium has been shown to have good brain bioavailability, making it a great choice for cognitive support. Some research suggests it may help improve memory and cognitive function.
  5. Magnesium Chloride: Magnesium chloride is typically used in topical applications such as magnesium oil or bath salts. It can be absorbed through the skin, making it a good option for individuals who have difficulty with oral supplementation or those seeking relief from muscle cramps or soreness.
  6. Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt): Epsom salt is used for external applications, particularly in baths. It may help soothe sore muscles and promote relaxation when dissolved in warm water.
  7. Magnesium Malate: Magnesium malate is often recommended for individuals with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, as malic acid may help support energy production. It’s also well-absorbed and less likely to cause digestive discomfort.
  8. Magnesium Taurate: Magnesium taurate combines magnesium with the amino acid taurine. This form may be beneficial for cardiovascular health, as taurine supports heart function and magnesium helps regulate blood pressure.
  9. Magnesium Orotate: Magnesium orotate is sometimes used for heart health. Orotic acid, a natural substance, may help improve magnesium’s ability to enter heart cells.

The choice of magnesium supplement should be based on individual needs and preferences, as well as consultation with your doctor. Additionally, it’s generally best to obtain most of your magnesium from combination of supplements and a balanced diet rich in magnesium-containing foods, such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains.

Dr. Katie Nuckolls is a naturopathic physician and owner of Thrive GI: Natural Digestive Medicine in Vancouver, Washington. She currently sees patients that live in Washington, Oregon, and Arizona using telemedicine. Starting in October 2023 she will offer in-office visits for patients living in the Vancouver/Portland metro area. For more information, visit our contact page or schedule a free 15-minute consultation online. 

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