Amanda King, ND
Written by Amanda King, ND

We hear about it all the time, we need more magnesium… eat this food, it’s a good source of magnesium, we need to supplement magnesium, but what is it? What does it do for us? How do I know which supplement I need? 

Studies show that over 75% of people do not get enough magnesium in their diet, not even meeting the RDA (recommended daily allowance) which is the minimum we should look at including every day to avoid diseases of deficiency. 

Abundant in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and lentils, magnesium helps our heart to beat, our muscles to contract and our nervous system to signal properly. If we don’t get enough, we develop a range of unpleasant symptoms and eventually illness. 

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, the fourth most prevalent. Every single organ in the body uses magnesium and if you have been suffering from any of the following symptoms then you may be deficient in magnesium: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or Tiredness
  • Lack of Energy
  • Muscle Cramping
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking 
  • Weakness or loss of strength 
  • Irritability 
  • Depression / Low Mood 
  • Poor memory 
  • Brain Fog

There are many different kinds of magnesium on the market in supplements, but not all are made the same. Each has different qualities, some are more bioavailable than others, that is how easily the body absorbs the nutrient. Some help the heart and some help with anxiety…

So, what kind of magnesium is right for me? 

  1. Magnesium Citrate: best for the gut as it behaves a little like a gentle laxative, relieving constipation. It helps to control gut bacteria and even contributes to healthy bone formation. 
  2. Magnesium glycinate: a combination of both magnesium and the amino acid glycine. This form of magnesium is best to aid sleep and relaxation. It helps the release of GABA which promotes feelings of well-being and happiness. It doesn’t have a laxative effect like the other forms of magnesium so it’s a great choice of supplement if that effect isn’t needed. 
  3. Magnesium stearate: used as an additive in food, cosmetics and medications and is best avoided. It has been known to cause allergies. 
  4. Magnesium malate: a combination of malic acid, which we get from apples, and magnesium. It is a good all rounder, being used in over 500 physiological processes from muscles to nerves.
  5. Magnesium oxide: less effective at raising blood magnesium levels than other forms due to its lower bio-availability. It is often used in nutritional supplements so caution is advised and more absorb-able forms are recommended, it also has a laxative effect. If it is combined with magnesium glycerophosphate however, it becomes very bio-available. 
  6. Magnesium carbonate: essentially chalk. It has no real place in food except to neutralise the ph of the stomach as in for example an acid attack/heartburn.
  7. Magnesium taurate is best for heart health, it prevents arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) and protects from heart attacks. Supports detoxification.
  8. Magnesium sulfate: otherwise known as epsom salts. They have a strongly laxative effect if taking internally. They are best known as a powerful relaxant for bathing and have been said to allow absorption of magnesium through the skin although more research needs to be done in this area.
  9. Tri-Mag: this type has three different forms of magnesium that promote calmness, boost energy, and soften stools.
  10. Magnesium SRT: a new form of magnesium which doesn’t act as a laxative. This is available in a spray so is especially useful for supplementing children.

Note: Taking supplemental Vitamin D can interfere with magnesium absorption so check your Vitamin D levels before you begin supplementation. You should always consult with your nutritionist or health professional before you begin any supplement regime.

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