If you’ve ever found yourself scouring the nutrients aisle for a magnesium supplement, chances are you were overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options.
Magnesium is an essential mineral found in many foods and supplements, but not all types of magnesium are created equal. This comprehensive blog post will discuss different types of magnesium supplements, their associated benefits, and their potential side effects.
From pain relief to better sleep quality and improved digestion — learning about the various forms of this nutrient can help determine which type may be suitable for your individual needs. Read on to discover how adding more magnesium to your daily routine can improve your overall health and vitality.
What is magnesium, and why is it an essential mineral?
Magnesium is a vital mineral that plays many essential roles in the body. It acts as an electrolyte, supports more than 300 enzymes, and contributes to various processes such as energy production, glucose metabolism, nerve system function, regulating healthy blood pressure, and blood sugar control.
It plays a critical role in maintaining bone health and regulating cardiovascular function. It helps synthesize and activate vitamin D. Modern diets often lack adequate magnesium, increasing the risk of various health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and meat and fish like chicken, beef, and salmon are all great sources of dietary magnesium. Also, many common foods like bread and breakfast cereals are fortified with this essential mineral. Interestingly, only about 20-40% of magnesium consumed becomes bioavailable in the body .
Magnesium deficiency can lead to several health risks, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis , making it a public health concern, especially for older adults.
What are magnesium’s main benefits?
Magnesium research has discovered a connection between low magnesium levels and an increased risk of diabetes.
Supplementation with magnesium has been shown to reduce blood glucose and effectively enhance insulin sensitivity . This is particularly true for those who are insulin resistant, magnesium deficient, and women with gestational diabetes .
Taking supplemental magnesium can decrease blood pressure for those who are magnesium deficient or have hypertension .
On average, systolic blood pressure can drop by 2-4 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure can decrease by 2 mmHg. However, those with type 2 diabetes may see even greater reductions, with systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreasing by 6-8 mmHg and 2-3 mmHg, respectively .
Magnesium dietary supplements could improve sleep in those who struggle with insomnia or age-related changes to sleep patterns. Additionally, it may reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches and lessen premenstrual symptoms in women.
According to a recent study involving more than 6,000 individuals aged 40 to 73, consuming foods rich in magnesium, like dairy, almonds, and spinach, may help decrease the risk of developing dementia. The study concluded that participants who consumed over 550 mg of magnesium daily had brains that aged one year more slowly by the time they were 55 compared to individuals with a normal magnesium intake of around 350 mg per day .
What are magnesium’s main drawbacks?
A magnesium dietary supplement is generally safe with low concern for major side effects. It’s unlikely to ingest too much magnesium from food sources or experience magnesium toxicity.
Taking supplements in high doses (i.e., magnesium carbonate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium chloride, magnesium oxide, and magnesium hydroxide) can cause a laxative effect but can also lead to uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.
If you’re taking medications like bisphosphonates or antibiotics, you should talk to your healthcare provider about spacing out and timing your magnesium supplementation. This is because supplements can interfere with the absorption of these medications.
What are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
Low magnesium levels can cause various symptoms, some of which can be serious. It is important to recognize these symptoms and take steps to address them.
Here are the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:
- Fatigue and weakness 
- Digestive issues (constipation)
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle twitches, cramps, and spasms
- Insomnia and sleep issues 
- Anxiety and depression 
- Calcification of the arteries
- Hormone imbalances
- Osteoporosis and bone deficiencies
- High blood pressure (hypertension) 
- Asthma 
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
What foods are the highest in magnesium?
Despite its importance, many people may not get enough magnesium in their diets. Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of foods rich in this vital mineral. From leafy greens to delicious fruits, here are the top 25 foods with the highest magnesium content to help you meet your daily dietary needs:
- Spinach (cooked): 1 cup, 157 mg of magnesium
- Swiss Chard (cooked): 1 cup, 150 mg of magnesium
- Quinoa (cooked): 1 cup, 118 mg of magnesium
- Black Beans (cooked): 1 cup, 120 mg of magnesium
- Cacao powder: 2.5 tbsp, 106 mg of magnesium
- Pumpkin Seeds (dried): 1/8 cup, 92 mg of magnesium
- Brown Rice (cooked): 1 cup, 86 mg of magnesium
- Cashews: 1 ounce, 82 mg of magnesium
- Almonds: 1 ounce, 80 mg of magnesium
- Kidney Beans (cooked): 1 cup, 74 mg of magnesium
- Dark Chocolate (70–85% cocoa): 1 ounce, 64 mg of magnesium
- Lima beans: 1/2 cup, 63mg of magnesium
- Soymilk: 1 cup, 61 mg of magnesium
- Coconut water: 1 cup, 60 mg of magnesium
- Oatmeal (cooked): 1 cup, 58 mg of magnesium
- Avocado: 1 medium, 58 mg of magnesium
- Salmon: 1/2 fillet, 53 mg of magnesium
- Tofu: 3.5 ounces, 53 mg of magnesium
- Figs (dried): 1/2 cup, 50 mg of magnesium
- Baked Potatoes (with skin): 1 medium, 50 mg of magnesium
- Peanut Butter: 2 tablespoons, 49 mg of magnesium
- Yogurt (plain, low fat): 8 ounces, 42 mg of magnesium
- Banana: 1 large, 37 mg of magnesium
- Blackberries: 1 cup, 29 mg of magnesium
- Raspberries: 1 cup, 27 mg of magnesium
Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on the specific variety and preparation method.
Should I take magnesium supplements?
Magnesium supplements can be beneficial. They have been studied extensively in biological trace element research. Deficiency is a common problem, especially for older adults, and magnesium compounds are often found in dietary supplements that can help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis.
How much is recommended?
Adults need to ensure they’re getting enough magnesium, with the recommended dietary allowance being 410-420 mg/day for men and 320-360 mg/day for women. This includes magnesium from food, beverages, supplements, and medications. The maximum amount adults should consume from a magnesium supplement or medications is 350 mg daily, per the upper intake level (UL).
What are the different magnesium types, and what are they used for?
Below is a list of different types of magnesium and their common uses:
Magnesium citrate helps alleviate constipation and improves arterial stiffness , potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. It also has high bioavailability, meaning the body easily absorbs magnesium citrate.
Magnesium glycinate can help relax your muscles and relieve pain, making unwinding easier. Plus, it can improve sleep quality, especially when taken before bed . This magnesium compound also has high bioavailability, making it easily absorbable.
Magnesium L-threonate has been found to significantly improve brain health by enhancing cognitive function and increasing alertness, showing promising results for those looking to sharpen their mental acuity and maintain a healthy brain .
Magnesium chloride has various uses, from alleviating pain when applied topically and aiding digestion. Because it has a laxative effect, it is best used for constipation. It also has high bioavailability, translating to high magnesium absorption.
Magnesium malate helps boost your body’s energy levels by increasing ATP production. It’s perfect for those who struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome . Its benefits are best felt when taken during daylight hours.
Magnesium sulfate is the perfect addition for a relaxing soak in the tub and is commonly found in Epsom salt formulations.
Magnesium taurate has been found to have potential benefits for both heart and vascular health. Research suggests incorporating this compound into your diet could help support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Magnesium lactate is powerful in the fight against magnesium deficiency. Its high bioavailability makes it a popular choice among health enthusiasts. Additionally, it is known for its ability to support the function of the heart , the nervous system, and the digestive system.
Types Of Magnesium: In Closing
Magnesium can be a potent mineral supplement in one’s health routine. It’s important to know the various magnesium forms and their health benefits, and when considering supplementation, dosage and magnesium type should be considered.
Speaking to a doctor or qualified healthcare professional is recommended before you take a dietary supplement to ensure safety and maximum benefit.
Ultimately, education on the types of magnesium available and understanding proper dosing can help ensure magnesium supplements become a safe part of your health plan.
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