Magnesium - Ask a Nutritionist

February 16, 2023

Citrate? Glycinate? Threonate? Magnesium comes in many different forms. It's an important mineral in many different bodily functions. Unfortunately most people don't get as much magnesium as they should. The good news is that magnesium is found in many foods as well as convenient dietary supplements. Tune in to this weeks episode of Ask a Nutritionist to learn all about magnesium.

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Welcome to the “Ask a Nutritionist” podcast, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are thrilled to have you join us today as we discuss the connection between what you eat and how you feel, and share practical real life solutions for healthier living through balanced nutrition. Now let's get started.

BRITNI: Good morning and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition's new midweek segment called “Ask A Nutritionist”. On today's show, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we will be answering a nutrition question we've received from our Dishing Up Nutrition listeners. The question today is, how do you decide which magnesium to take?

“You mentioned magnesium glycinate is the most absorbable form. What about magnesium chloride?” Wonderful question because we talk about magnesium and its benefits so often and it is a little bit confusing to know which form is best for you. So first let me tell you a little bit about magnesium and the functions in the body.

What are magnesium’s functions in the body?


It's an extremely important mineral involved in hundreds of different biochemical reactions. Think of it as your relaxation mineral, and a major, major function of magnesium is helping to relax our muscles and promoting regular muscle contraction. And many people are deficient in magnesium for multiple reasons. The nutrients in our soil have been depleted a lot over the years. You know, many people aren't eating enough magnesium rich foods to begin with. You know, sugar, alcohol, and coffee all deplete magnesium from our body. And here's a big one: stress depletes magnesium from our body. And I know, you know, basically everybody has some stress in their life, right?

The majority of individuals are deficient in magnesium for that reason. And because it's involved in so many different reactions in the body, there's a huge demand for it, and it gets used up very quickly. I want to run through some symptoms of magnesium deficiency so you can identify if you are deficient or not.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency


Muscle cramps, spasms or twitching, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, heart palpitations, constipation, headaches, migraines, fatigue, high blood pressure, PMS and menstrual cramps. You know, basically anything that's tight or cramping can be related to a magnesium deficiency. I think the majority of people can identify with at least one of those symptoms.

What are the best forms of magnesium to take?


Let's go back to the original question about the different forms of magnesium. Magnesium Glycinate is a highly absorbable form because it's chelated, and chelated means that it's bound to something to basically help carry it across the lining of our gut. So we absorb it a lot better. Magnesium glycinate is specifically is bound to the amino acid, glycine, and glycine has a very calming effect on the body. So together it makes a great supplement for sleep and relaxation. This is the magnesium glycinate is my go-to magnesium recommendation for the majority of my clients. Unless you tend towards constipation. Then I would choose a Magnesium Citrate or the Nutrikey Mixed Magnesium.

Mixed Magnesium is generally my preference for individuals that experience constipation because it contains half magnesium glycinate and half magnesium citrate. So you get all the benefits of the magnesium glycinate, but then the magnesium citrate will pull fluid to your stool to help to soften it. If you take too much magnesium citrate, you're going to get loose stools.

So it does take a little bit of trial and error to find that right dosage for you. Forms of magnesium that you want to avoid are magnesium oxide and carbonate. Those are poorly absorbed forms and generally just cause diarrhea. So even in your multivitamin, if you take one, I would look at the ingredient list or the fax page and look at the form of magnesium in that.

The listeners specifically asked about magnesium chloride, which is a combination of magnesium and chloride, generally extracted from seawater. And this form isn't as absorbable as magnesium glycinate, and it's really a better form used topically. So it is the most prevalent form of magnesium in magnesium lotion and oils.

And, you know, I do want to mention one other form of magnesium that you can find on the Nutrikey website. It's called Magnesium Threonate. And this form of magnesium is really special because it crosses the blood-brain barrier. So it's not going to provide us the all of the muscle benefits that I was talking about earlier. But it's going to provide us with a lot of brain benefits. So individuals who might benefit by taking this would be if you're looking to improve memory, cognition, focus, reduce anxiety, and improve ADHD symptoms. It can help your sleep as well. But as I noted earlier, magnesium glycinate is, is also really great for sleep. And hypothetically, you could take that Magnesium Glycinate or that Mixed Magnesium to get all the muscle benefits and maybe if you're constipated to help relieve that. Plus, you could take the Magnesium Threonate to get those brain benefits.

If you're still unsure about what form to take, I want to mention this really cool future on our Nutrikey website. All you do is visit and search ‘magnesium’. Click on a magnesium product. Then you scroll down past the directions and you'll see a link to take the magnesium quiz to determine what form of magnesium is best for you.

Dosing of magnesium varies quite a bit from person to person. I would say a lot of people fall between 300 and 600 milligrams. I would just suggest starting off, you know, maybe with two. And then you can continue to increase until you do get relief from those symptoms that I mentioned earlier. And I would recommend taking most of your magnesium or all of your magnesium at night before bed to get that relaxation effect, and that will help to put you into a deeper sleep. If you are taking it to relieve constipation, you might benefit from taking one or two in the morning as well.

And I, I also want to mention that magnesium is physically a large molecule, so there is only about a hundred milligrams that can fit into a capsule or a tablet of magnesium. So I know it might feel like you're taking a lot. But unfortunately there's no getting around that. And when I had mentioned multivitamins earlier, oftentimes there is little to no magnesium in multivitamins again for this reason because it's just physically a large molecule. So it's difficult to fit that in along with all the other vitamins and minerals.

I often, I often get questions from my clients after they've gotten to do their annual physical about their magnesium level. A lot of times that's tested with the various other labs during a physical. But getting that blood test of magnesium is not an accurate measure of your magnesium status, and the reason is about 99% of your magnesium is found in your cells. So testing your blood magnesium is really only testing about 1% of your magnesium.

So I would not use that as a way to measure whether or not you need to supplement with magnesium. I would just, again, go off of those symptoms that I mentioned earlier, and I think basically everybody, most individuals can really benefit from taking some form of magnesium.

What are some food sources of magnesium?


And I don't want to forget to mention food sources of magnesium. Of course, you always, always want to focus on the food part of, of getting all the adequate nutrients in. Magnesium rich foods are nuts, seeds, beans, seaweed, avocado, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and halibut. Leafy greens contain magnesium. And meat.also provides you some magnesium too.

So by upping your magnesium rich foods, you know, reducing, eliminating that sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and then supplementing with magnesium, that should really get rid of any of those magnesium deficiencies symptoms that I did mention earlier. Thank you so much for listening to Dishing Up Nutrition’s “Ask a Nutritionist”. If you have a question you would like us to answer, we invite you to join our Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook community by searching Dishing Up Nutrition on Facebook.

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