Which Type Of Magnesium Is The Most Absorbed By The Body?
Whether you are looking to boost your magnesium intake or you want to reap some of the many benefits (promoting restful sleep and PMS cramp relief, to name a few), you may be considering a magnesium supplement.
Since magnesium's absorption and benefits vary widely depending on its form, you need to make sure you're picking the one that's best for your needs.
Forms of magnesium
In fact, almost 50% of the U.S. population doesn't get enough magnesium4 through their diet alone, so it is often taken through supplementation, either orally, transdermally (through the skin), and even through an IV.
Each form has different bioavailability, intended uses, and side effects, so let's walk through them.
Bioavailability of different magnesium forms
The most bioavailable (aka absorbable) forms of magnesium are bound to other compounds.
As renowned integrative physician Robert Rountree, M.D., explains, "Magnesium absorbs water. So when you take straight-up magnesium, like magnesium oxide, it forms these clusters of water, and that basically hurries things along in the gut."
That means these forms of magnesium promote a laxative effect but aren't really being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Instead, look for a chelated form. "Chelate means 'claw,' and it simply means the magnesium is bound to an organic compound that basically helps ferry it across the lining of the gut," Rountree explains.
He recommends magnesium glycinate, which is bound to the amino acid glycine and is available in capsule or tablet form.
It is also important to note that zinc and calcium can reduce magnesium's absorption6, so be mindful of what you take it with.
Magnesium glycinate versus magnesium citrate
Magnesium glycinate and citrate are two of the most common and absorbable forms; however, they aren't necessarily equal. Which one you choose depends on what you are looking to target.
As Jolene Brighten, N.D., a naturopathic doctor put it, "Magnesium glycinate is highly absorbable, doesn't cause diarrhea like the citrate form can, and has a calming effect."
Can you take too much magnesium?
Some individuals can tolerate much higher doses, though.
Which type of magnesium supplement you take will depend on your desired goal.
If you are concerned about magnesium deficiency or looking to reap the sleep and relaxation benefits of magnesium, you'll want the glycinate form.
Magnesium glycinate is one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium and has fewer GI side effects than other forms.
If you are taking magnesium to address constipation and gut issues, the citrate form will be a better fit.
Natalie is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health. Natalie consults for various organizations, like Apple, Inc., healthline.com, Head Health, Inc., and others, providing medical review, recipe and video creation, program development and delivery, seminars, and other services. She has also advocated for personalized functional nutrition and nutrigenomics-based lifestyle changes through her private practice Nutrition By Natalie since 2007. Natalie graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, and went on to pursue her graduate dietetic internship to become an RDN through Marywood University in Pennsylvania.
Natalie loves spending time with her husband and three children in the kitchen, garden and in nature. She is a foodie at heart and loves most cuisines, but especially spicy Indian and Thai.