Magnesium boasts a range of health benefits. It’s a major mineral in the body, found in more than 300 of the body’s enzyme systems. Magnesium may support healthy blood pressure already within normal range, heart health, healthy blood sugar levels already within normal range, sleep quality, bone health, and exercise performance. It may also combat PMS symptoms and provide relief from occasional headaches. Needless to say, magnesium does a lot of good. You can learn more about magnesium’s role in the body in this thorough explainer from Care/of. The type of magnesium you should take depends on your particular health goals.
There are several different forms of magnesium supplements available – so many that it can be hard to decide which one to take. It’s not too complicated, though: The different forms are basically just magnesium with different compounds attached to it, and the compounds have an impact on its absorption and its use inside the body. The different types are: magnesium glycinate, magnesium oxide, magnesium lactate, magnesium citrate, magnesium threonate, magnesium taurate, and magnesium malate.
According to this animal study, magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide have the lowest absorbability. Not so fast, though: Another study – this one involving healthy individual human beings – found that exact opposite, reporting that magnesium citrate was the most absorbable.
As always, your best bet is to talk to a doctor about your particular goals, and only then determine which magnesium is right for you.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400-420 mg for men and 310-320 for women, though there is some variation by age. There are some foods high in magnesium, but not very many. To make sure you’re getting enough magnesium to boost your overall nutrition, it’s important to get a type with high bioavailability, ensuring that your body will actually absorb it. A study of human subjects found that magnesium citrate was the most absorbable. However, there are some studies that contradict this finding. You should talk to your doctor about the best option for you.
Magnesium has been shown to help with occasional constipation. While some think the laxative effect of magnesium results from its action in the intestinal tract, it’s also possible that the cause is mostly hormonal. Regardless, magnesium citrate is the form most often used for occasional constipation. Magnesium citrate is magnesium linked to citric acid.
Researchers have consistently found that magnesium can improve sleep quality. Indeed, this study found that optimal magnesium levels are necessary for healthy sleep. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking 500 mg of magnesium daily for 8 weeks helped patients fall asleep more quickly and sleep for a longer period of time. Magnesium also helps manage stress, which can be a big help for getting a good night’s sleep. Moreover, it promotes relaxation of muscles.
Magnesium glycinate commonly used for promoting relaxation and sleep. This study supports this type of use, finding that glycine (the amino acid attached to magnesium) can help enhance sleep quality.
Magnesium has been shown to help manage cortisol levels as well as reducing oxidative stress. This study found that magnesium threonate, in particular, can be helpful at managing oxidative stress and supporting the cholinergic system. This study further suggests magnesium’s potential benefits for cognition, learning and memory, sensory and motor processing, and sleep and arousal, since all of these are affected by the cholinergic system.
PMS symptoms have sometimes been linked to a magnesium deficiency. Studies have consistently shown that women with PMS can experience significant health benefits from a magnesium supplement.
In this study, participants took 360 mg of magnesium per day and saw a reduction in PMS-related symptoms, most notably headaches. The magnesium group reported fewer headaches, while the placebo group did not. According to this study, magnesium supplementation can be even more effective for people with PMS symptoms when paired with a vitamin B6 supplement.
There is no single “best” magnesium for PMS symptoms, and the type you will want to use will depend on your particular magnesium needs.
As mentioned, magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems in your body, including systems that affect muscle function. Indeed, 60% of the magnesium in your body is stored in muscle. Studies have shown that magnesium can help with pregnancy-related muscle cramps. However, magnesium cramps can be the result of several factors, including some having nothing to do with magnesium supplementation. Getting appropriate hydration and proper electrolyte consumption can play a role in helping with muscle cramps. When deciding whether to take magnesium for muscle cramps, you can determine which type is best in consultation with a medical professional. That said, magnesium citrate is commonly used for muscle cramps.
A study from the National Institutes of Health found that many pregnant people have magnesium levels below what’s recommended. For pregnant people, magnesium has been shown to help prevent high blood pressure that results from pregnancy, and also has been shown to help support healthy fetal growth. Studies of magnesium and pregnancy have mainly included magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. For a more thorough examination of magnesium and pregnancy, you can check out Care/of’s helpful explainer.
You can boost your magnesium intake by adding some particular foods to your diet. Some of these foods include: legumes, whole grains, avocados, nuts and seeds, tofu, leafy greens, bananas, and dark chocolate. You can also cut back on caffeine and alcohol, which have been shown to deplete magnesium levels.
Magnesium is important for your health for a variety of reasons. Studies have shown that it can support healthy pregnancies, promote muscle function and recovery, manage PMS symptoms (including headaches), manage stress, and promote sleep in those with occasional sleeplessness. You can boost your magnesium intake through adjustments to your diet or by incorporating magnesium supplements. To determine the best magnesium to take, you need to have a sense of what your particular goals are. You should also be on the lookout for the bioavailability of the supplements you’re selecting. Fortunately, you’re not likely to get too much magnesium from your diet. Symptoms of magnesium toxicity are rare.
Care/of’s magnesium is sourced from Irish seawater and includes 72 trace minerals, making for a high-absorption supplement. Talk to your doctor about whether a magnesium supplement is right for you.