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Magnesium - How to choose the right one?

Video Transcript:

Hello everyone! Today, we're going to be talking about the complex world of magnesium supplements and what you need to know in order to choose the right supplement for you.

Magnesium is one of the most common supplements that I recommend in my nutrition practice. However, there are a lot of different types on the market and it can be confusing to try to figure out which one you should be buying.

So in this topic, we're going to be covering what a magnesium deficiency feels like. Why so many of us are deficient in our modern world?

We'll also chat about the reasons why you might need a magnesium supplement and how to pick which one is right for you based on your needs.

Lastly, we'll cover how much magnesium you should be taking once you've decided which form of magnesium to take.

Hello everyone! My name is Katie Krejci and I'm a gut health dietitian at Oswald Digestive Clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more.

You can schedule an initial appointment on our website or start by just downloading our free guide: five ways to improve gut health. So what is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral in our human body that plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions. Its main functions are involved in energy production, muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, nerve function, and maintaining strong bones.

We obtain magnesium from the food that we eat. So things like leafy greens, avocados, delicious chocolate, and nuts, we absorb through our intestines to then utilize in our body or put away in storage in our bones and muscle tissues.

And our bodies are very smart. The amount of magnesium that we absorb. Is dependent on our magnesium status. So if you're someone who is depleted, you will absorb more magnesium than someone who has adequate stores despite consuming the same amount of magnesium.

Cool. Huh?

On a negative note, our soils are becoming more depleted due to our modern farming practices. So these foods may not be a rich source of magnesium like they once were. Also, food processing strips magnesium from our foods, reducing the amount even further.

As a result, magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in America affecting up to 45% of our population. So there's a good chance that you're also suffering from magnesium depletion.

Now here's a fun fact!

Did you know that only 1% of our body's magnesium is actually present in the blood? The rest is stored away in our bones and our muscles, which can then be released as needed to maintain our blood levels. And that makes serum tests unreliable, actually in measuring your total magnesium levels and therefore really monitoring for symptoms of magnesium depletion can be the most helpful.

So what does a magnesium deficiency feel like?

There are some classic signs of magnesium deficiency to be on the lookout for. So that's going to be things like muscle weakness, some twitching, cramping, maybe even confusion, headaches, fatigue, and changes in your heart rate. So even in cardiac arrhythmias, you can start seeing things like seizures, numbness, tingling, or even nausea or loss of appetite.

Now, there are some other signs that you might just benefit from a little extra magnesium. So if you're struggling with tension, trouble sleeping, or anxiety because magnesium is actually a co-factor for producing serotonin, constipation. I see that a lot in my practice and also significant PMS symptoms, especially if you're having chocolate cravings.

There are also a few scenarios that will increase your risk of having a magnesium deficiency. So if you have a preexisting vitamin D deficiency. That'll put you at risk. If you're an alcoholic or have digestive disorders like Crohn's or IBS or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

If you have uncontrolled diabetes, or even if you're on long-term diuretics or antacids, prolonged diarrhea puts you at risk. Same with, if you have preeclampsia or even just stress, believe it or not. Because stress decreases our stomach acid secretion, and we need that stomach acid for proper magnesium absorption.

Guide in choosing the right supplement for you

Now that we understand more about magnesium and signs that you might be depleted. How do you go about picking the right supplement for you? Before we jump in, let me just explain that magnesium is a very chemically active supplement.

So it's always combined with another compound like magnesium plus citrate or magnesium plus glycinate, for example. So each added compound contributes different functional properties. So not all magnesium supplements are equal and should be carefully selected based on your needs.

  • Category number one, if you are someone who has a just general need for more magnesium or you're experiencing mild symptoms, like muscle weakness, just feeling tired, maybe you're nauseous, then magnesium citrate should be your supplement of choice.

That's because studies have shown that this form has the highest bioavailability or ability to be absorbed.

That way, you'll get your levels up in no time. However, this form does have a mild laxative effect. So if you are prone to diarrhea, I'd recommend working with a healthcare provider to discuss some other alternatives.

  • Category number two, if you are someone who is prone to constipation, then magnesium citrate would also be a great option for you. Magnesium citrate attracts water into the small intestine, which aids in promoting a smooth and comfortable bowel movement. It's best taken in the evening to then encourage a bowel movement in the morning.

Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms that I recommend in my nutrition practice and find it very effective. All right!

  • Category number three. So if you are constipated and looking for a natural way to promote bowel regularity, but you don't necessarily need to increase your total body stores of magnesium, then try magnesium oxide. It is very effective in promoting bowel regularity, just like magnesium citrate.

However, this form is less bioavailable and just kind of passes on through. So it's more effective in just treating constipation than truly improving your body's stores of magnesium.

  • Category number four. So if you're someone that struggles with stress, anxiety, or sleep issues, then I would lean towards magnesium glycinate. In this form, magnesium is bound to the amino acid glycine, and this creates a form that is highly effective in promoting a calm, relaxed state, which can help you with sleep and mood.

Sounds great right?

Now, if you are prone to diarrhea, do not worry. This form is not known for its laxative effect, like the other forms that we've discussed. So definitely give it a try.

  • Category number five. If you have a history of, or concerns about cardiac health, then magnesium taurate would be a great form for you to select. Research has shown that this form is very effective in reducing blood pressure and even having a protective effect on the cells inside the heart.

Magnesium taurate may even help control blood sugar levels too. So, therefore, if you have any metabolic or cardiac concerns, magnesium taurate might be a great one for you to try.

  • Category number six. So if you struggle with muscle pain or even fibromyalgia, then I would recommend trying magnesium malate. This form is created by combining magnesium with malic acid resulting in a product that is both highly bioavailable and very effective in improving muscle tenderness and pain.

It's effective, even in persistent pain conditions like fibromyalgia. Now, if you're prone to looser stools, don't worry. Magnesium malate is a gentler form of magnesium and has less of a laxative effect. Bottom line, if you're struggling with aches and pains, magnesium malate might be a great fit for you.

  • Category number seven, if you have any cognitive concerns like poor memory, confusion, depression, or even dementia, then magnesium L-threonate would be a great form to try.

This is a new form that has been created by combining magnesium with threonic acid to allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier, which results in increasing the magnesium levels directly within our brain. Studies have shown that this form can improve memory and overall cognitive function, and even prevent dementia. Magnesium L-threonate has been shown to have an antidepressant effect and improve traumatic memories. What a great supplement. Do any of these categories fall in line with how you're feeling?

By carefully selecting the right form of magnesium for you. I hope that you can find relief from the symptoms that you're experiencing.


If you're interested in trying a magnesium supplement, we have a few of our favorite one below, however, make sure to always talk to your healthcare provider to ensure that they are indeed a good choice for you based on your health history.


Thinking of combining products?

Now, something else to think about is combination products. Do you feel like you'd benefit from multiple different forms of magnesium? Maybe you're constipated and you're having sleep or anxiety issues.

There are combination products out there, or you can mix and match several products as desired. I'll often recommend magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate for my clients.

How much should I take?

Just please be mindful of how much total magnesium you're taking. So how much magnesium should you be taking?

The RDA for adults is between 310 and 420 milligrams per day, depending on your age and gender. But most magnesium capsules range between a hundred to 150 milligrams per pill. So often a good dose is two to four capsules depending on the product.

Since some of the forms that we discussed, aid in bowel motility start low and slow and go up from there as needed. Another thing to mention is that since supplements aren't well-regulated make sure that you are choosing a brand that is third-party tested. So you can be confident that what is advertised is inside that capsule.

Lastly, if you're looking for some great recommendations, we have some wonderful supplements linked in the notes below. Definitely go check those out.


A common question that I get is can I just take a multivitamin?

My answer is it totally depends on the multivitamin that you're taking. Most multivitamins on the market provide insufficient amounts of magnesium. So if you're currently taking one, check the label to see how much is in there.

If it's in that RDA range of 310 to 420 milligrams, then you may not need additional supplementation unless otherwise indicated by your healthcare provider.

I hope this information about how to choose the right magnesium supplement was helpful to you. And you're now feeling confident in which one you should be choosing.

Thanks for watching. And I hope you have a great rest of your day.

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If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic. We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.

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Or you can simply start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.

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