Magnesium supplementation is very popular. And for good reason. Some reports say that up to 75% of the population is deficient in magnesium. (See if you’ve got a magnesium deficiency here.)
Yes, eating foods high in magnesium is a great way to boost your levels. But it may not be enough, and that’s where supplementation comes in.
But there are so many different types out there! Which is the best magnesium supplement?
Forms of magnesium
There are a number of different supplement forms since magnesium must be bound to another substance. Each form has different therapeutic properties and absorption rates.
Because of its water solubility, magnesium chloride is probably the most bioavailable form of magnesium. Magnesium chloride is typically found in sea water, which makes swimming in the ocean an excellent (and cheap!) way to supplement your magnesium. It’s great for detoxing and metabolism & kidney function. You can also get this form through baths or by spraying on topically. More on this below!
Very well absorbed, magnesium glycinate is relaxing, good for leaky gut and nerve pain. This is one of the best magnesium supplements for those with a deficiency or who simply want to boost levels due to stress. (Where to buy)
Malic acid is a key component in energy production in the body. The combination of magnesium and malic acid make for an energizing supplement. Great for fibromyalgia symptoms, low energy and fatigue as well as muscle pain. This particular formulation is the only time-released magnesium supplement with a peer-reviewed clinical trial. It also contains all the magnesium c0-factors for best absorption. (Where to buy)
Also known as epsom salt, which is helpful for sore, aching muscles or for general detox. It’s good in small doses but not well absorbed. Epsom salts are available at almost all drug stores and inexpensive. This form of magnesium is often used as a laxative when taken internally. Be careful as it’s very easy to overdose this way. Use internally only in very occasional, small doses or not at all. Not good for those with sulfur allergies or sensitive. (Where to buy)
Taurate & Orotate
Good for heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, etc. This form is best for cardiovascular health. It has an excellent absorption rate and provides a calming effect on the body. (Where to buy)
Makers claim that magnesium threonate can penetrate the cell wall, making it incredibly absorbable. This form is able to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are responsible for memory and learning. This makes it especially good for neurological issues, brain injuries, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. This is a newer type though so more research needs to be done. (Where to buy)
Especially when drunk with a meal, magnesium water increases magnesium absorption rates significantly, making mag water a great supplement. (How to make)
Citrate (Why I don’t recommend the popular, Natural Calm)
Natural Calm lovers, don’t hate me. (I used to be a fan too!) Though it’s easily available and may even be recommended by your doctor, magnesium citrate is not the best choice. (I know! SHOCKER!) Certainly you can use short-term if you’re struggling with constipation or restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, but long-term it can lower your ceruloplasmin levels, which helps to regulate iron and copper in your body. You want healthy levels of ceruloplasmin to avoid unbound iron and/or copper issues. Some healthcare professionals claim this is the cause of most diseases and disorders in the body.
Plus, according to this report, Natural Calm contained arsenic.
Least expensive but not well absorbed or recommended. This form is often found in multivitamin supplements.
Best magnesium supplement – Topical
Some people (and practitioners) claim that magnesium is absorbed best transdermally (through the skin) since it bypasses the digestive tract and doesn’t cause as much of a laxative effect. Topical magnesium oil is usually made with magnesium chloride that is mined from the ancient Zechstein Seabed in the Netherlands. Sometimes the topical oil can sting, so you can use a magnesium lotion instead. This is what I use on my kids feet each night. One teaspoon of the lotion contains about 200mg of magnesium.
Another option is to make your own spray. This particular recipe has had some phenomenal results!
Epsom salt (sulfate) or magnesium flake (chloride) baths are another great way to get magnesium into the body and detox other substances out. Add two cups of these salts to a hot (not scalding) bath with one cup of baking soda for extra absorption. Sit in solution for 20 minutes or longer for maximum effect.
Best magnesium supplement – Oral
As mentioned above, the best magnesium supplement for you depends on your symptoms. (Even if you like topical, it might be a good idea to supplement too if you aren’t consistent with applying!)
Here is a quick rundown on the different types:
Magnesium glycinate – Best for anyone with a deficiency.
Magnesium malate – Good for Fibromyalgia, muscle pain and low energy.
Magnesium taurate or magnesium orotate – Best for those with cardiovascular issues.
Magnesium threonate – Best for neurological and cognitive symptoms.
Mag water – General supplement for good absorption.
Which ever magnesium supplement you chose, be sure to cross-reference with this in-depth magnesium supplement report. Some very popular brands tested high in arsenic or were misleading on label!
Don’t forget about Co-factors!
You can take the best magnesium supplement out there, but if you don’t add in co-factors, you might not be getting the full benefit. Lack of co-factors can affect absorption rates, and even lead to worse deficiencies. Each vitamin and mineral in our bodies work together for optimal health. No one nutrient can work on it’s own!
Vitamin B6 (as part of B complex) – These detoxify and help the liver work optimally and helps magnesium absorption into cells. I like a food-based b vitamin, raw bee pollen, liver pills or nutritional yeast flakes for my B’s. Be sure to use a methylated form of vitamin B complex if you go the supplement route and you have the MTHFR defect(s).
Keep in mind that some people don’t excrete B6 properly, even though it’s a water-based vitamin, so be aware of any B6 toxicity symptoms.
Bicarbonate – Also helps magnesium reach and absorb into the cells. Put 1/4-1/2 tsp of baking soda in water and drink before bed away from food. Or, just put baking soda into your baths a few nights a week!
Boron – 10-12 prunes a day will give you 2-3 mg of Boron, a great co-factor for magnesium, plus 41 mg of magnesium. Boron helps to regulate mineral absorption & metabolism and estrogen levels. Boron also helps utilize calcium, another magnesium co-factor.
Selenium – A handful of Brazil nuts will give you more than your RDA for selenium. Selenium defends against oxidative stress, boosts immunity, and supports blood flow and heart health.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D has been shown to increase absorption of magnesium. Twenty minutes a day in the sun (not through a window) or take your daily cod liver oil. Vitamin D supplementation isn’t recommended as it can lead to kidney stones.
Vitamin K2 – Found in natto, some cheeses like Brie and Gouda, and emu oil, vitamin K2 works with magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D to keep the body balanced.
Potassium – Magnesium and potassium work in tandem to regulate electrolytes in the blood and cells. White potatoes with skin, avocados, lima beans and sweet potatoes are the highest sources of potassium.
Additional magnesium resources
In conclusion, really the best magnesium supplement is the one that you’ll use regularly!
If you are looking to learn more about magnesium, I highly encourage you to join the Facebook group called Magnesium Advocacy Group led by mineral specialist Morley Robbins.
The book, Magnesium Miracle, is also an excellent resource.
How about you?
Which do you think is the best magnesium supplement?