Types of Magnesium: Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects 2023

Magnesium is one of the seven essential minerals we cannot live without. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and research shows even subclinical deficiency can jeopardize your heart health.

Magnesium is important for brain health, detoxification, cellular health and function, energy productionregulation of insulin sensitivitynormal cell divisionthe optimization of your mitochondria and much more.

Having adequate levels of magnesium is crucial for:
  • The healthy function of most of your cells, especially your heart, kidneys and muscles.
  • Cognitive function and brain plasticity.
  • Activating and regulating vitamin D in your body.
  • Mental and physical relaxation.
  • Cardiovascular health and healthy blood flow.
  • Normal blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity.
  • Protecting your body against damage from EMFs.
  • The production of neurotransmitters for mood and sleep.
  • Detoxification support and the synthesis of glutathione.

Video - Should you take magnesium supplements, and what are the benefits of taking Magnesium?

Types of Magnesium and What They Are Good For

types of magnesium

1. Magnesium Glycinate

Nature Made Magnesium Glycinate > Best Magnesium Glycinate

- Helps with sleep, anxiety and inflammation
- Does not induce a laxative effect

Magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed and may have calming properties. It may help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. 

2. Magnesium Threonate

- Best type for cognitive function and brain fog
- Potentially energizing and best to take in the morning

Magnesium Threonate is the most efficient type at penetrating cell membranes, including your mitochondria and blood-brain barrier. 

This type of magnesium may help with memory loss. As noted by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition, writing specifically about magnesium threonate:

"It has now been discovered that magnesium is a critical player in the activation of nerve channels that are involved in synaptic plasticity. That means that magnesium is critical for the physiological events that are fundamental to the processes of learning and memory.

As it turns out, one form of magnesium, magnesium threonate, has the unique ability to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are involved in this process."

a. Magnesium for Brain Health

Life Extension Neuro-Mag Magnesium L-Threonate > Best Magnesium for Brain Fog

The brain contains the highest concentration of mitochondria in the male body. Mitochondria are heavily reliant on magnesium for energy production so a deficiency can hamper your brain performance significantly. Supplemental magnesium has been shown to improve learning and memory.

Magnesium also facilitates processing in your neural network and is used to keep the blood-brain barrier healthy.

3. Magnesium Chloride

Double Wood Supplements Magnesium Chloride > Best Magnesium Chloride Supplement

- Commonly used topically, such as in lotions, baths and foot soaks.

While traditional Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate, there are also newer forms of magnesium flakes that are made of magnesium chloride. Both types of salts provide benefits for the body, however magnesium chloride may be able to provide longer lasting benefits. This is because magnesium chloride is both easier to absorb and slower to be excreted from the body.

In an outpatient clinic treating 126 adults with mild to moderate symptoms, researchers found supplementation with magnesium chloride for six weeks resulted in clinically significant improvements in depression and anxiety without side effects.

4. Magnesium Sulfate

Epsoak Epsom Salt > Best Magnesium Sulfate for Skin

- Commonly used topically, such as in lotions, baths and foot soaks. 

An effective way to boost your magnesium level is to take Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths. Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium that can absorb into the body through the skin while you soak.

5. Magnesium Malate

NOW Supplements, Magnesium Malate > Best Magnesium Malate

- Good for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Potentially energizing and best to take in the morning
- Good bioavailability, making this one of the better types in terms of absorption

a. Magnesium Malate for Fatigue

Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which numerous studies have found to be deficient in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Magnesium malate is also known for helping with chronic fatigue syndrome.

2010 review of treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome stated that magnesium malate is among the supplements with the most potential for future research for managing the symptoms of these conditions, which are characterized by low energy, among other symptoms.

b. Magnesium Malate for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes muscle pain and tenderness throughout the body. Some research suggests magnesium malate could help reduce its symptoms.

Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which numerous studies have found to be deficient in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

One study in 80 women found that blood levels of magnesium tended to be lower in those with fibromyalgia. When the women took 300 mg of magnesium citrate per day for 8 weeks, their symptoms and the number of tender points they experienced decreased significantly, compared with a control group.

Also, a 2-month study in 24 people with fibromyalgia found that taking 3–6 tablets, each containing 50 mg of magnesium and 200 mg of malic acid, twice daily reduced pain and tenderness.

However, other research has produced conflicting results. In fact, one recent review of 11 studies concluded that the use of magnesium and malic acid had little to no effect on symptoms of fibromyalgia.

6. Magnesium Citrate

LES Labs Magnesium Citrate > Best Magnesium Citrate

- One of the most studied forms of magnesium
- Good bioavailability, making this one of the better types in terms of absorption
- Has a laxative effect
- Mixes well with liquids

a. Magnesium Citrate for Constipation

Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass.

This supplement is relatively gentle. It shouldn’t cause urgency or emergency bathroom trips, unless you take too much of it. You can find it at many drug stores, and you don’t need a prescription to purchase it.

Your doctor may also prescribe magnesium citrate to help you prepare for certain medical procedures, such as colonoscopies.

7. Magnesium Taurate

Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate > Best Magnesium Taurate 

- Suitable for heart related issues and migraines
- Shown to reduce heart attacks and promote stable blood sugar
- Most supplements mix magnesium taurate with other forms of magnesium

a. Magnesium Taurate for Heart

Magnesium is necessary for the healthy functioning of most cells, especially in your heart and muscles.  Just as with other muscles in the body, the heart relies heavily on magnesium for proper contractility. This is thought to be due to its role in regulating calcium and potassium concentrations in the muscle tissue.

If you notice that your heart beats irregularly, magnesium may be something to address. This includes rapid heartbeats, slow heartbeats, and sudden changes in heart rhythm for no apparent reason.

Magnesium Taurate is a type of magnesium used for heart related issues.

8. Magnesium Oxide

Nature Made Magnesium Oxide > Best Magnesium Oxide Supplement

- Inexpensive
- Not as bioavailable as other forms
- Commonly used for constipation or heartburn

9. Magnesium Salicylate

This type of magnesium is used as an anti-inflammatory to help control pain.

It is one of the drugs of choice if there is renal insufficiency, as it minimally interferes with anticyclooxygenase and other prostaglandins. Additionally, it will not impair platelet inhibition in those patients who are on an every-other-day aspirin regimen to decrease their risk for stroke or heart disease.

Unlike aspirin, it does not increase the formation of products of lipoxygenase-mediated metabolism of arachidonic acid. For this reason, it may be less likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions. It has been safely used in patients with reversible obstructive airway disease and a history of aspirin sensitivity.

It is also much gentler on your stomach than the other NSAIDs and are the drug of choice if you have problems with peptic ulcer disease. However, you need to take 1.5-2 grams twice a day, and tinnitus, or ringing in your ear, is a frequent side effect.

You need to be aware of this complication and know that if tinnitus does develop, you need to stop the drugs for a day and restart with a dose that is half a pill per day lower. You can repeat this until you find a dose that relieves your pain and doesn't cause any ringing in your ears.


1. Magnesium Dosage

The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is 310 to 420 mg per day depending on your age and sex, but many experts believe you may need 600 to 900 mg per day, which is more in line with the magnesium uptake during the Paleolithic period. 

As noted in Open Heart:
"Investigations of the macro- and micro-nutrient supply in Paleolithic nutrition of the former hunter/gatherer societies showed a magnesium uptake with the usual diet of about 600 mg magnesium/day …

This means our metabolism is best adapted to a high magnesium intake … In developed countries, the average intake of magnesium is slightly over 4 mg/kg/day … [T]he average intake of magnesium in the USA is around 228 mg/day in women and 266mg/day in men …"

The key to effectively using higher doses, however, is to make sure you avoid loose bowels as that will disrupt your gut microbiome, which would be highly counterproductive.

Important Safety Note: That said, overdosing is possible with magnesium, and it is more difficult to detect when consuming liposomal magnesium. Therefore, consider a mixture of liposomal and conventional magnesium, or just conventional magnesium.

a. Magnesium Dose for Kids

> Toddlers (1 to 3 years old) - 80mg
> Kids (4 to 8 years old) - 130 mg
> Kids (9 to 12 years old) - 240mg

2. What Are The Signs of Magnesium Deficiency?

Along with the measurement, you should track signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, such as..
  • Muscle spasms, especially “charley horses” or spasms in your calf muscle that happen when you stretch your leg, and/or eye twitches
  • Numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and/or coronary spasms
  • Increased number of headaches and/or migraines
  • Low energy, fatigue and/or loss of appetite
  • The Trousseau sign — To check for this sign, a blood pressure cuff is inflated around your arm. The pressure should be greater than your systolic blood pressure and maintained for three minutes. By occluding the brachial artery in your arm, spasms in your hand and forearm muscles are induced. If you are magnesium deficient, the lack of blood flow will cause your wrist and metacarpophalangeal joint to flex and your fingers to adduct.

3. What Foods Have Magnesium?

a. High Magnesium Vegetables

When it comes to leafy greens, those highest in magnesium include..
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Beet greens
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • Romaine lettuce

i. Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder 
One ounce (28 grams) of raw cacao nibs contain about 64 mg of magnesium, plus many other valuable antioxidants, iron and prebiotic fiber that help feed healthy bacteria in your gut.

ii. Avocados 
One medium avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, plus healthy fats and fiber, and other vitamins. They're also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

iii. Seeds and nuts 
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 48%, 32% and 28% of the RDA of magnesium respectively. Cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources. One ounce (28 grams) of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, which equates to about 20% of the RDA.

iv. Fatty fish 
Interestingly, fatty fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are also high in magnesium. A half fillet (178 grams) of salmon can provide about 53 mg of magnesium, equal to about 13 percent of the RDA.

v. Squash 
One cup of winter squash provides close to 16.80 grams of magnesium — about 4 percent of your RDA.

vi. Herbs and spices 
Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages, and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.

vii. Fruits and berries 
Ranking high for magnesium are: papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. For example, one medium-sized papaya can provide nearly 58 grams of magnesium.

c. What Foods Inhibit Magnesium Absorption?

Magnesium absorption is hindered by excess ethanol, salt, coffee and phosphoric acid in soda. Sweating, stress, lack of sleep, excessive menstruation, certain drugs (especially diuretics and proton-pump inhibitors) also deplete your body of magnesium. For these reasons, many experts recommend taking supplemental magnesium. 

4. Magnesium Side Effects

Magnesium can interact with certain prescription medications and medical problems, so people should be careful to look for any contraindications prior to use. 

a. Magnesium Interactions With Medications

Magnesium can adversely affect certain antibiotics, antivirals, diuretics and bisphosphonates. 

i. Levodopa/Carbidopa (Sinemet)

Levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet) is used for Parkinson disease. Taking magnesium oxide along with levodopa/carbidopa might decrease the effectiveness of levodopa/carbidopa. 

ii. Antibiotics (Aminoglycoside antibiotics)

Some antibiotics can affect the muscles. These antibiotics are called aminoglycosides. Magnesium can also affect the muscles. Taking these antibiotics and getting a magnesium shot might cause muscle problems.

Some aminoglycoside antibiotics include amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), streptomycin, tobramycin (Nebcin), and others.

iii. Antibiotics (Quinolone / Tetracycline antibiotics)

Magnesium might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking magnesium along with some antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. To avoid this interaction, take these antibiotics at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after, magnesium supplements.

Some quinolone antibiotics that might interact with magnesium include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), and others.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

iv. Bisphosphonates

Magnesium can decrease how much bisphosphate the body absorbs. Taking magnesium along with bisphosphates can decrease the effectiveness of bisphosphate. To avoid this interaction, take bisphosphonate at least two hours before magnesium or later in the day.

Some bisphosphonates include alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), risedronate (Actonel), tiludronate (Skelid), and others.

v. Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers)

Some medications for high blood pressure work by blocking calcium from entering cells. These medications are called calcium channel blockers. Magnesium might also block calcium from entering cells. Taking magnesium with these medications might cause blood pressure to go too low.

Some of these medications include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.

vi. Muscle relaxants

Magnesium seems to help relax muscles. Taking magnesium along with muscle relaxants can increase the risk of side effects of muscle relaxants.

Some muscle relaxants include carisoprodol (Soma), pipecuronium (Arduan), orphenadrine (Banflex, Disipal), cyclobenzaprine, gallamine (Flaxedil), atracurium (Tracrium), pancuronium (Pavulon), succinylcholine (Anectine), and others.

vii. Water pills (Potassium-sparing diuretics)

Some "water pills" can increase magnesium levels in the body. Taking some "water pills" along with magnesium might cause too much magnesium to be in the body.

Some "water pills" that increase magnesium in the body include amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).

viii. Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Magnesium might slow blood clotting. Taking magnesium along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, indomethacin (Indocin), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

ix. Digoxin (Lanoxin)

Digoxin (Lanoxin) helps the heart beat more strongly. Magnesium might decrease how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs. By decreasing how much digoxin (Lanoxin) the body absorbs, magnesium might decrease the effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

x. Medications for diabetes (Sulfonylureas)

Magnesium is available in supplements in several salt forms. Some salt forms of magnesium might increase how much sulfonylurea the body absorbs. By increasing how much sulfonylurea the body absorbs, these forms of magnesium might increase the risk of low blood sugar in some patients.

Some sulfonylurea agents include carbutamide, acetohexamide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, gliclazide, glibornuride, glyclopyramide, and glimepiride.

xi. Antacids

Antacids might reduce the laxative effects of magnesium. People taking magnesium as a laxative might require a higher dose.

Some antacids include calcium carbonate (Tums, others), dihydroxyaluminum sodium carbonate (Rolaids, others), magaldrate (Riopan), magnesium sulfate (Bilagog), aluminum hydroxide (Amphojel), and others.

xii. Gabapentin (Neurontin)

Magnesium might decrease how much gabapentin (Neurontin) the body absorbs. By decreasing how much gabapentin (Neurontin) the body absorbs, magnesium might decrease the effects of gabapentin (Neurontin). Take gabapentin (Neurontin) at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after taking magnesium supplements.

xiii. Ketamine (Ketalar)

Ketamine is used for severe pain and depression. Taking large doses of magnesium along with ketamine might increase the effects and side effects of ketamine.

xiv. Sevelamer (Renagel, Renvela)

Sevelamer (Renagel, Renvela) can increase magnesium levels in the body. Taking sevelamer with a magnesium supplement might cause magnesium levels to get too high.

b. Who Cannot Take Magnesium

Ingested magnesium is cleared by the kidneys, so people with kidney failure on dialysis may not be able to effectively clear the extra magnesium from their bloodstream. 

c. Magnesium Toxicity Symptoms

Signs of a magnesium toxicity may include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and slow reflexes.

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