Which Type of Magnesium Should I Take?

by | May 22, 2023

Why Do I Need Magnesium?

Magnesium is a key mineral for our health and well-being and is involved in several important functions in the body. 

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 functions in our body including:1

  • Energy production
  • Making DNA and RNA
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Sending nerve signals
  • Making proteins
  • Muscle contraction

Research has shown that not having enough magnesium increases the risk for several chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, migraines, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).2 

Aside from the diet, many individuals turn to using supplements to support their levels of certain vitamins and minerals – but with so many kinds of magnesium supplements out there, how do you know which one to choose? Here we will review the different types of magnesium supplements, including benefits (aside from improving magnesium levels), dosage, and potential side effects. 

Types of Magnesium Supplements

  1. Magnesium Citrate

This form of magnesium is one of the most common and is naturally found in citrus fruit. Compared to other forms of magnesium, magnesium citrate is one of the most bioavailable magnesium forms – meaning that it is more easily absorbed into your body. In addition to improving magnesium levels, magnesium citrate can also treat constipation due to its natural laxative effect. 

  1. Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is often used to relieve digestive discomfort such as indigestion, heartburn, and constipation. This form of magnesium has been shown to not be absorbed by the body well, making it not a good choice for those who need to raise their magnesium levels.


  1. Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is easily absorbed by the body and can be used to treat heartburn, and constipation, and improve low magnesium levels. This form of magnesium comes in a topical version as well, and topical use may help relieve muscle soreness but not boost your magnesium levels.

  1. Magnesium lactate

This form is easily absorbed and may be gentler on your digestive system than other types, particularly with larger doses. Some small studies showed magnesium lactate to improve stress and anxiety in addition to magnesium levels, but more research is needed.

  1. Magnesium malate

​​Magnesium malate is easily absorbed and may have less of a laxative effect than other forms. It is occasionally recommended to treat symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

  1. Magnesium taurate

This type of magnesium is the best for supporting healthy blood sugar and healthy blood pressure. A study using magnesium taurate in rats saw a significant decrease in their blood pressure – indicating that this form may improve heart health.3

  1. Magnesium L-threonate

Magnesium L-threonate is easily absorbed and may be the most effective of all magnesium types at increasing magnesium concentration in brain cells. This type supports brain health and may improve treatment for brain disorders, such as depression and memory loss. 

  1. Magnesium sulfate

This form of magnesium is commonly referred to as Epsom salt and is most often used in bathwater to soak sore muscles and relieve stress. Magnesium sulfate may also be included in several skin care products.

  1. Magnesium Glycinate

This magnesium form is easily absorbed and may reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. It can also be used to help several inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

  1. Magnesium orotate

Magnesium orotate is easily absorbed and does not contain strong laxative effects like other forms. This type may improve heart health by aiding the production of energy in your heart and blood vessels. 

One study involving 79 people with severe congestive heart failure found that taking magnesium orotate was significantly more effective for managing symptoms and survival compared to a placebo.4 

  • A large drawback is that this form of magnesium is significantly more expensive than other magnesium supplements.

Do I Need a Magnesium Supplement?

Your doctor can determine if you need a magnesium supplement by testing the magnesium levels in your body. 

  • A normal serum (blood) magnesium level is 1.8 to 2.2mg/dL.7
  • Serum magnesium lower than 1.8 mg/dL is considered low.7
  • A magnesium level below 1.25 mg/dL is considered very severe hypomagnesemia.7

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 400-420mg for adult males and 310-360mg for adult females.5 However, the RDA may increase to 400mg for adult females during pregnancy and lactation.5 Magnesium is safe when taken by mouth in doses less than 65 mg for children 1-3 years, 110 mg for children 4-8 years, and 350 mg for children older than 8 years.

When considering taking a magnesium supplement, it is important to ask yourself:

  • How much magnesium do you consume in your diet? 

Magnesium occurs naturally in a variety of foods, some of which include almonds, quinoa seeds, cherries, avocado, banana, spinach, oats, beetroot, and kidney beans. 

  • Is a supplement or topical treatment really necessary? 
  • How much additional magnesium would you need? 

Most studies found positive effects with daily doses of 125–600 mg of elemental magnesium. The supplement amount of magnesium can vary depending on your reason for taking the magnesium. always follow standard dosage recommendations on the label and talk to your doctor before taking the supplement to better determine if more is needed based on your specific needs (insomnia, constipation, etc).6 

The National Academy of Medicine recommends not exceeding 350 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.6 

  • What is the best form of magnesium for me?

Signs & Symptoms of Low Magnesium

How do you know if you are low in magnesium?

The following signs and symptoms are commonly associated with low levels of magnesium in the body:7

  1. Muscle twitching and cramping
  2. Mental health conditions – such as depression or anxiety.
  3. Seizures
  4. Numbness/tingling in hands and feet.
  5. Abnormal heart rhythms
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Headaches and migraines

Medication Interactions with Supplementing Magnesium

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, as you never know what could cause a negative interaction with your current medications. Magnesium supplementation is not recommended if you are taking any of the following medications: 8 

MedicationPurposeBrand names
Levodopa/caridopaTreatment of Parkinson’s disease.Sinemet

Aminoglycoside antibiotics


Amikacin (Amikin), gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), streptomycin, tobramycin (Nebcin), and more. 


Quinolone antibiotics

To avoid this interaction, take these antibiotics at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after, magnesium supplements.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), and more. 

Tetracycline antibiotics

To avoid this interaction, take these antibiotics at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after, magnesium supplements.

Demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin). 


To avoid this interaction, take bisphosphonate at least two hours before magnesium or later in the day.

Alendronate (Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), risedronate (Actonel), tiludronate (Skelid), and more. 
Calcium channel blockersUsed to treat high blood pressure. 

Nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and more. 

Muscle relaxants 

Carisoprodol (Soma), pipecuronium (Arduan), orphenadrine (Banflex, Disipal), cyclobenzaprine, gallamine (Flaxedil), atracurium (Tracrium), pancuronium (Pavulon), succinylcholine (Anectine), and more. 


Potassium-sparing diuretics – “water pills”


Amiloride (Midamor), spironolactone (Aldactone), and triamterene (Dyrenium).

Anticoagulant/Antiplatelet medicationsSlow down blood clotting 

Aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, indomethacin (Indocin), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and more. 




Used to treat heart failure



SulfonylureasClass of diabetes medication 

Carbutamide, acetohexamide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, gliclazide, glibornuride, glyclopyramide, and glimepiride.



Take gabapentin (Neurontin) at least 2 hours before, or 4 to 6 hours after taking magnesium supplements.

Can be used to treat nerve pain and seizures. Neurontin



Used to treat severe depression and pain






Phosphate binder; is used to lower phosphorus levels in the body for those with kidney disease.

Renagel, Renvela

In addition to interacting with some medication, supplementing with magnesium can also cause some GI discomfort including nausea, cramping, and diarrhea. Individuals with kidney disease should not take a magnesium supplement as the kidneys can have a hard time clearing the magnesium from the body, which may result in higher than normal levels. 

Overall, supplementing with magnesium can be very beneficial for individuals as long as it is done correctly and under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Each form of magnesium can provide additional benefits aside from improving magnesium levels, which can improve other health conditions and overall quality of life!


  1. Schwalfenberg, G. K., & Genuis, S. J. (2017). The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica, 2017, 4179326. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4179326
  2. Gröber, U., Schmidt, J., & Kisters, K. (2015). Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients, 7(9), 8199–8226. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095388
  3. Shrivastava, P., Choudhary, R., Nirmalkar, U., Singh, A., Shree, J., Vishwakarma, P. K., & Bodakhe, S. H. (2018). Magnesium taurate attenuates progression of hypertension and cardiotoxicity against cadmium chloride-induced hypertensive albino rats. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 9(2), 119–123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.010
  4. Stepura, O. B., & Martynow, A. I. (2009). Magnesium orotate in severe congestive heart failure (MACH). International journal of cardiology, 134(1), 145–147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2009.01.047
  5. Types of magnesium: Differences, benefits, and side effects. (2021, March 23). Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/types-of-magnesium#how-to-choose
  6. How Much Magnesium Should You Take per Day? (2019, October 28). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-dosage#side-effects
  7. Hypomagnesemia (Low Magnesium): Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis. (2017, November 10). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/hypomagnesemia#diagnosis
  8. WebMD. (2011). Magnesium: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. Webmd.com. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-998/magnesium


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