Magnesium Supplements 101

  • Nina Macaraig


If you read this, then you probably already know: Magnesium is an important micronutrient that many parts of your body – including your nervous system, your muscles, your heart, your bones and immune system – need in order to function properly. Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. The adult human body contains about 25 grams, with about half stored in the bones, while the rest can be found in soft tissues, bodily fluids and muscles. Based on age and gender, the recommended daily intake for adults fluctuates between 310 and 420 mg;[1] however, most adults in the US do not meet that target through their diet. And selecting a supplement is no easy task, as a bewildering number of products can be found on the market.

Also, not all Magnesium formulations are created equal. In fact, there exist many different types in supplement form. Here, in alphabetical order, are the most commonly available ones, together with their effects…


Aspartate – This type is bound with an amino acid called aspartic acid, which naturally occurs in your body as it breaks down protein. More easily absorbed than, for instance, Magnesium Oxide, it has been found to have a positive effect on fatigue.

Chloride – This type includes chlorine. It has a relatively lower level of absorption in comparison to other types. Supplements with Magnesium Chloride are used to treat low Magnesium levels and digestive issues. If you take it to increase Magnesium levels, you may experience unwanted gastrointestinal side effects.

Citrate – This type of Magnesium is bound with citric acid, which also gives citrus fruits their tart flavor. Because it is easily absorbed through your digestive tract, it is the one most commonly used in supplements. Since higher doses have a laxative effect, it can also be used to treat constipation.

Glycinate –This type includes the amino acid glycine, which naturally occurs in foods rich in protein, such as fish, meat and dairy. It is easily absorbed and, for most people, the least likely to cause unwanted gastrointestinal side effects. Magnesium Glycinate can enhance your quality of sleep and promote neurological functions—that is, it can be used to treat people suffering from insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Lactate – This type is bound with lactic acid (yes, the kind that forms in your muscles and makes you feel sore). Although easily absorbed, it is less commonly seen in supplements; however, if you need large doses of Magnesium without wanting to stimulate your digestive tract, you may select this type.

L-Threonate – This type contains threonic acid, which naturally occurs when your body breaks down Vitamin C. It actually is more effective as a source of threonic acid, rather than of Magnesium. It seems to be most effective in the brain, based on research conducted on animals. More research is needed to fully understand its effects and benefits in humans.

Malate – This type is bound with malic acid, which naturally occurs in fruit and wine. It has been found to remain in the blood at a higher level for a longer period of time.[2] Easily absorbed in the digestive tract and with less of a laxative effect, it is often used to treat Magnesium deficiency.

Orotate – This type includes orotic acid, which naturally occurs in your body when it builds genetic material, such as DNA. Because orotic acid plays a role in the way in which heart and blood vessel tissues produce energy, it is a (costly) supplement that can benefit athletes and patients suffering from congestive heart failure.

Oxide – This type is bound with oxygen. It is poorly absorbed in the body and, in its white powdery or liquid form (known as “Milk of Magnesia”), serves to treat digestive issues such as constipation, heartburn, and indigestion.

Sulfate – This type is bound with oxygen and sulphur. You can find it commonly available as Epsom Salt, to treat sore muscles when added to bathwater. Using it in your bathwater may in fact increase Magnesium levels, but this type of topical application has not yet been properly studied. Magnesium Sulfate is poorly absorbed when taken orally. Although you can take it to treat constipation, its unpleasant taste will probably have you reach for other options.

Taurate – This type is bound with the amino acid taurine. In animal studies, it has been proven to regulate blood pressure and promote a healthy blood sugar level. It may therefore be beneficial for treating high blood pressure and help especially diabetics manage high blood sugar. 


So how do you decide which type of Magnesium is most suitable for your needs?

In this context, we should also mention the concept of “bioavailability.” The term refers to the amount that is absorbed into your bloodstream, so that it can take full effect, down to the cellular level. Absorption happens through your gut if you take a supplement orally; what cannot be absorbed into your body is excreted through urine, for example.

This means that you could shortchange yourself if you opt for a type of Magnesium with smaller bioavailability—only a tiny fraction of the 100 mg supplement tablet you take may in fact end up in your system!

Health by Principle’s Magnesium supplement combines Citrate, Glycinate and Malate, each of which has a bioavailability about four times greater than the other types listed above. The addition of Taurate is based on its benefits for heart health and blood sugar levels. These four types have also been selected to address the specific needs of migraineurs, those with Magnesium deficiency and anyone with the desire to support mental health. We encourage you to consult with your healthcare providers to decide whether our Magnesium supplement can help you optimize your nutrition and, as a result, your well-being.


[1] Megan Ware, “Why do we need Magnesium?” 

[2] Nazan Uysal et al., “Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best?” Biological Trace Element Research 187/1 (2019), pp. 128–136.




  1. Ansley Hill, “10 Interesting types of Magnesium (and what to use them for),” Healthline,
  2. Nazan Uysal et al., “Timeline (Bioavailability) of Magnesium Compounds in Hours: Which Magnesium Compound Works Best?” Biological Trace Element Research 187/1 (2019), pp. 128–136.
  3. Ann F. Walker, Giorgos Marakis, Samantha Christie & Martyn Byng, “Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double‐blind study,” Magnesium Research 16/3 (2003), pp. 183-191.
  4. Megan Ware, “Why do we need Magnesium?” Medical News Today, 
  5. M. Firoz & M. Graber, “Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations,” Magnesium Research 14/4 (2001), pp. 257-262.
  6. J. S. Lindberg, M. M. Zobitz, J. R. Poindexter & C. Y. Pak, "Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 9/1 (1990), pp. 48-55.



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