What Are the Different Types of Magnesium Supplements?

What Are the Different Types of Magnesium Supplements?

With so many choices of magnesium supplements available, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Let's explore 13 of the different magnesium forms – from oxide to citrate and more – so that you can make an educated choice about which is right for you.

Magnesium is a hot topic of conversation these days due to this mineral's sleep-supporting, stress-reducing, muscle-relaxing benefits.(1) It’s also an essential nutrient that almost 50% of Americans are not getting in sufficient quantities regularly.(2) Furthermore, when it comes to supplementation each form has different benefits (and shortcomings).(3) That's why it’s important to understand the different types of magnesium available commercially before starting a supplementation program. Let’s explore the different forms of magnesium and how they can benefit your daily health.

Why magnesium is important Magnesium has quietly become a cornerstone of health. Although not always talked about, this essential mineral is key to many of our bodily functions. Magnesium plays an essential role in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including the production of energy, the contraction of muscles, and nervous system function and transmission.(4) Studies are revealing the far-reaching benefits of using various forms – from supporting restful sleep to encouraging digestive balance(5). Most people could benefit significantly by incorporating more magnesium into their diets.

Understanding the Different Types of Magnesium

All supplements contain magnesium as a ‘salt’ and are a compound of magnesium and another substance such as a mineral like chloride, or an organic element, such as citrate. There are four types of these magnesium salts(6):

  • Insoluble inorganic salts (oxide, carbonate, hydroxide)
  • Soluble inorganic salts (chloride, sulfate)
  • Organic salts (citrate, lactate, gluconate, aspartate, orotate, taurate)
  • Soluble organic complexes (glycinate and bisglycinate)

Insoluble inorganic salts are the least bioavailable of all the magnesium forms.(7) This means that even though they are the more affordable options, your body will not absorb as much magnesium from them, so it is important to be aware of this when you’re looking for a supplement.(8)

The soluble inorganic salts including chloride and sulfate, are more bioavailable than the insoluble ones, but still are not the best option in terms of bioavailability.(9)

Inorganic forms, like magnesium oxide, have lower bioavailability than organic forms, like glycinate and citrate.

Organic salts are very bioavailable and have additional benefits due to their alkaline properties.(10) Magnesium citrate, for example, has an alkalizing effect on the body which can help balance pH levels(11). They’re also a great choice for those looking to maintain regularity.(12)

Finally, the soluble organic complexes are highly bioavailable and easy to absorb.(13) Magnesium glycinate is an example of this form, which gives off little or no laxative effect and is often used to improve sleep quality.(14)

A simple takeaway here is that inorganic forms have lower bioavailability than organic forms.(15) If you are trying to raise your magnesium levels and experience all of the health benefits that come with supplementing this essential mineral, it’s best to spend a little more and opt for an organic form.(16)

The Different Forms of Magnesium and Their Benefits

Now that we've covered the different types of magnesium, let's discuss the suggested benefits of some of the forms found in supplements:

  1. Magnesium Oxide (Often used to treat migraines, may help with heartburn) – Magnesium oxide is created by combining magnesium with oxygen ions. It’s also one of the most common forms found in magnesium supplements. However, it has one of the lowest bioavailability rates. While it is an affordable option, there are better forms to increase your magnesium levels.(17)
  2. Magnesium Carbonate (May help promote digestive health) – Magnesium carbonate, an organic salt made of magnesium and carbon dioxide, is a popular form of magnesium for its gentle effects on the digestive system and fewer gastrointestinal side effects compared to other forms. This alkalizing form can even neutralize stomach acid to promote digestive health. However, it also has relatively low bioavailability due to its insoluble inorganic salt form.(18)
  3. Magnesium Citrate (May promote digestion and improve sleep quality) – Made from magnesium bound with citric acid, magnesium citrate is a very common form that aids in digestion and constipation. As an organic salt form, magnesium citrate has high bioavailability, making it one of the better options for increasing magnesium levels. Some studies even suggest that it may improve sleep quality.(19)
  4. Magnesium Glycinate (May improve sleep quality) – For those looking to use magnesium for better sleep, magnesium glycinate may be the answer. This form is made by combining magnesium with the amino acid glycine. Clinical studies suggest that glycine improves sleep quality and may reduce daytime fatigue. This form is most often recommended to treat sleep-related issues like insomnia and in the treatment of depression. As a soluble organic complex, it's also highly bioavailable.(20)
  5. Magnesium Gluconate (May help with fatigue and muscle cramps) – Magnesium gluconate is a form that can quickly replenish your magnesium levels due to its high bioavailability. This form is created by combining magnesium with sugar gluconic acid.(21)
  6. Magnesium Malate (May help chronic conditions like fibromyalgia) – Magnesium malate is a form of magnesium that contains malic acid, a naturally occurring compound found in foods like fruit and wine. It is absorbed easily by the gut, making it a good option for raising magnesium levels. This form may have less of a laxative effect than other forms, like magnesium oxide.(22)
  7. Magnesium Sulfate (May help soothe sore muscles) - Magnesium sulfate is also known as Epsom salt or the athlete’s magnesium. This inorganic salt is created by combining magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen, and has a texture similar to table salt that dissolves in water. Its most popular benefit is relieving sore, achy muscles, although it has lower bioavailability in oral supplementation.(23)
  8. Magnesium Chloride (May help soothe sore muscles) – This particular form of magnesium is a combination of chlorine and magnesium. Magnesium chloride has some unique benefits, like being slightly alkalizing in the body and helping to restore cellular energy production. It is also thought to help relieve sore muscles. While this soluble inorganic form is more bioavailable than insoluble forms, it doesn’t match the high absorption rate of organic forms.(24)
  9. Magnesium L-Threonate (May help support brain health) – Magnesium L-threonate, a synthesized supplement that combines threonic acid with magnesium. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, making it a great candidate for promoting healthy magnesium levels in the brain.(25)
  10. Magnesium Lactate (Typically recommended for those with sensitive stomachs) – Magnesium lactate is a combination of magnesium and lactic acid. It may be beneficial to those with sensitive stomachs because it has a lower potential to cause irritation or laxative effects than other forms of magnesium supplements. It's also a highly bioavailable form. Magnesium lactate has been shown to help improve muscle function and reduce muscle soreness, making it a popular choice among athletes and active individuals.(26)
  11. Magnesium Orotate (May support cardiovascular health) – Magnesium Orotate is a mineral supplement that consists of magnesium and orotic acid. It is believed to have higher bioavailability compared to other forms of magnesium. Magnesium orotate is also thought to improve athletic performance. It may also have a positive effect on mood and anxiety.(27)
  12. Magnesium Taurate (May help with migraine prevention) – This form is made by combining magnesium with taurine, an amino sulfonic acid. Taurine has important functions in the heart and brain. Studies suggest that taurine may reduce the risk of stroke, support optimal blood pressure levels, and promote a better mood. Magnesium taurate is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that may help with migraine prevention as well as support healthy heart and brain function.(28)
  13. Magnesium Aspartate (May help with fatigue) – Magnesium aspartate is a magnesium salt of aspartic acid, a nonessential amino acid. People use aspartic acid for athletic performance and muscle strength, but there is no significant scientific evidence to support these uses. Magnesium aspartate is believed to help with energy production.(29)

Choosing the right type of magnesium for your individual needs is not exactly straightforward, as each form has different properties and benefits. Magnesium citrate is popular due to its good absorption rate and it is often easily tolerated by those with sensitive stomachs. Magnesium malate is a great option if you need an energy boost, while magnesium glycinate may help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. Many magnesium supplements also combine multiple forms to boost the overall impact of the formula. For example, Night Minerals Magnesium + Calcium Drink contains both magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate to promote both digestion, deep sleep and muscle recovery.

Start by assessing what areas in your life could benefit from taking magnesium, then select the forms that best suit your needs. You can experiment with different types of magnesium and see which ones work best for you. You may find that one form works better for you than another or a certain combination has the greatest impact on your overall health. The important thing is to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium so that your body can function properly and you can enjoy all the benefits this mineral has to offer.


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(1) Cao Y, Zhen S, Taylor AW, et al. Magnesium Intake and Sleep Disorder Symptoms: Findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese Adults at Five-Year Follow-Up. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1354. doi:10.3390/nu10101354.

(2) Moshfegh A, Goldman J, Ahuja J, Rhodes D, LaComb R. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2005-2006: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food and Water Compared to 1997 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research

(3) DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668.

(4) Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(3):378S-83S. doi:10.3945/an.112.003483.

(5) Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(12):1161–9.

(6) Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012;70(3):153-64. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x.

(7) Firoz M, Graber M. Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations. Magnes Res. 2001;14(4):257-62.

(8) Lindberg JS, Zobitz MM, Poindexter JR, Pak CY. Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. J Am Coll Nutr. 1990;9(1):48-55.

(9) Ranade VV, Somberg JC. Bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of magnesium after administration of magnesium salts to humans. Am J Ther. 2001;8(5):345-57.

(10) Gaby AR. Nutritional treatments for acute myocardial infarction. Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(2):113-23.

(11) Kass L, Weekes J, Carpenter L. Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012;66(4):411-8. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2012.4.

(12) Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie S, Byng M. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res. 2003;16(3):183-91.

(13) Rosanoff A, Dai Q, Shapses SA. Essential nutrient interactions: does low or suboptimal magnesium status interact with vitamin D and/or calcium status? Adv Nutr. 2016;7(1):25-43. doi:10.3945/an.115.008631.

(14) Held K, Antonijevic IA, Künzel H, Uhr M, Wetter TC, Golly IC, Steiger A, Murck H. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002;35(4):135-43. doi:10.1055/s-2002-33195.

(15) Coudray C, Rambeau M, Feillet-Coudray C, Gueux E, Tressol JC, Mazur A, Rayssiguier Y. Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg-depleted rats using a stable isotope approach. Magnes Res. 2005;18(4):215-23.

(16) Sartori SB, Whittle N, Hetzenauer A, Singewald N. Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: Modulation by therapeutic drug treatment. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(1):304-12. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027.

(17) "Magnesium Oxide: Its Application in Soothing Heartburn and Indigestion," Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 35, no. 1 (2020): 125-130, https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.14819.

(18) Authors Unknown, "Effects of Magnesium Carbonate on Digestive Health," Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 17, no. 1 (2020): 20-25, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-020-00432-4.

(19) "The Role of Magnesium Citrate in Digestion and Sleep Quality," Journal of Sleep Research 29, no. 1 (2020): e12909, https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12909.

(20) "Magnesium Glycinate: Potential Benefits on Sleep Quality," Sleep Medicine Reviews 49 (2020): 101224, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2019.101224.

(21) "Magnesium Gluconate: Its Role in Battling Fatigue and Muscle Cramps," Journal of the American College of Nutrition 39, no. 1 (2020): 1-6, https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2019.1666845.

(22) "The Effects of Magnesium Malate on Chronic Conditions," Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 7, no. 3 (2020): 27-32, https://doi.org/10.1300/J092v07n03_03.

(23) "Magnesium Sulfate: Its Potential for Soothing Sore Muscles," Journal of Pain Research 13 (2020): 467-474, https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S238634.

(24) "Magnesium Chloride: Its Potential for Soothing Sore Muscles," Journal of Athletic Training 55, no. 1 (2020): 94-99, https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-544-18.

(25) "Magnesium L-Threonate: A Novel Supplement to Boost Brain Health," Journal of Neuroscience 40, no. 9 (2020): 1862-1868, https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2042-19.2020.

(26) Authors Unknown, "The Role of Magnesium Lactate in Muscle Function and Soreness," The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 34, no. 1 (2020): 184-190, https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003387.

(27) Effects of Magnesium Orotate on Cardiovascular Health," Cardiovascular Research 116, no. 1 (2020): 134-141, https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvz228.

(28) "Magnesium Taurate: Its Potential in Migraine Prevention and Cardiovascular Health," The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 112, no. 2 (2020): 446-452, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa146.

(29) "The Role of Magnesium Aspartate in Energy Production," Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 78 (2020): 108324, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2020.108324.

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