Magnesium supplements are very popular. And for good reason. Some reports say that up to 75 percent of the population is deficient in magnesium. (See if you’ve got a magnesium deficiency here.) And while eating foods high in magnesium is a great way to boost your levels, it may not be enough. That’s where the best magnesium supplement comes in.
But how do you choose the best magnesium supplement when there are so many different types out there?
Forms of Magnesium
There are a number of different forms of magnesium supplements, and each type has different therapeutic properties and absorption rates.
Because of its water solubility, magnesium chloride is probably the most bioavailable form of magnesium. It’s great for detoxing and metabolism and kidney function.
- Magnesium chloride is typically found in sea water, which makes swimming in the ocean an excellent (and cheap!) way to supplement your magnesium.
- You can also get this form through baths or by spraying on topically. (More on this below!)
Magnesium glycinate is one of the best magnesium supplements, because it’s easily absorbed. Plus, it’s relaxing, good for leaky gut, and nerve pain.
This is one of the best magnesium supplements for those with a deficiency or anyone who simply wants to boost levels due to stress. (Where to buy)
Malic acid is a key component in energy production in the body. And when combined with magnesium, it makes for an energizing supplement. This type of magnesium supplement is great for fibromyalgia symptoms, low energy, fatigue, and 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)
Sulfate is also known as epsom salt, which is helpful for sore, aching muscles, or for general detox.
This type of magnesium supplement is good in small doses, but not well absorbed by the body. And although it’s generally used externally, some use sulfate internally as a laxative. It’s important to note that it’s very easy to overdose this way. Use internally only in very occasional, small doses or not at all. Avoid use if you have a sensitive stomach or have sulfur allergies.
Epsom salts are inexpensive and available at almost all drug stores. (Where to buy)
Taurate & Orotate
This type of magnesium supplement is good for anything related to cardiovascular heath—heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, etc. It’s one of the best magnesium supplements, because 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 an incredibly absorbent magnesium supplement. It’s able to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are responsible for memory and learning, making this form of magnesium supplement especially good for neurological issues, brain injuries, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. (Where to buy)
Note: This is one of the newer magnesium supplements, so more research needs to be done.
Magnesium water increases magnesium absorption rates significantly—especially when taken with a meal. This makes magnesium water one of the best magnesium supplements you can take. (See how to make magnesium water.)
Citrate (& why I don’t recommend Natural Calm)
Magnesium citrate is easily available and may even be recommended by your doctor, but magnesium citrate is not the best choice. (I know! SHOCKER!)
Natural Calm lovers, don’t hate me. I used to be a fan, but here’s why I had second thoughts: Long-term use can lower ceruloplasmin levels, which helps to regulate iron and copper in your body. Though some healthcare professionals claim this is the cause of most diseases and disorders in the body, it’s best reserved for short-term use if you’re struggling with constipation or restless leg syndrome during pregnancy.
Plus, according to this report, Natural Calm contained arsenic.
These magnesium supplements are expensive and not well absorbed, or recommended. This form of magnesium 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 yielded 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 the 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. And even if you like topical, it might be a good idea to supplement, too—especially if you aren’t consistent with applying!)
Here’s a quick rundown on the different types of magnesium supplements:
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.
Whichever magnesium supplements you choose, be sure to cross-reference them with this in-depth magnesium supplement report. Some very popular brands tested high in arsenic or were misleading on the label!
What You Need to Know About Co-factors
You can take the best magnesium supplements out there, but if you don’t add in co-factors, you might not be getting the full benefits. 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. They also help cells absorb magnesium. I like a food-based vitamin B, raw bee pollen, liver pills, or nutritional yeast flakes. 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 supplements reach and absorb into the cells. Put 1/4-1/2 tsp of baking soda in water and drink before bed. (Do not take with food.) Or, just put baking soda into your baths a few nights a week!
Boron – 10-12 prunes a day will give you 41 mg of magnesium, plus 2-3 mg of Boron, a great co-factor for the magnesium. Boron helps to regulate mineral absorption, as well as metabolism and estrogen levels. It also helps utilize calcium, another magnesium co-factor.
Selenium – A handful of Brazil nuts will give you more than your RDA for selenium, which defends against oxidative stress, boosts immunity, and supports blood flow and heart health.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D has been shown to increase the absorption of magnesium supplements. To get enough vitamin D, spend twenty minutes a day in the sun (not through a window) or take your daily cod liver oil. Vitamin D supplementation isn’t recommended—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.
Where to Learn More About Magnesium
The best magnesium supplement is the one that you’ll use regularly!
If you are looking to learn more about magnesium and magnesium supplements, 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?