How to Choose the Right Magnesium Supplement for You

WellnessVitaminsHow to Choose the Right Magnesium Supplement for You

How to Choose the Right Magnesium Supplement for You

Woman takes magnesium supplement with glass of water

When it comes to hot supplements, magnesium ranks with collagen, probiotics and vitamin D3. It’s one of the most popular natural products, and there are good reasons why.

Magnesium is a multi-tasker. It helps with:

  • Sleep;
  • Energy;
  • Pain, including migraines and headaches;
  • Stress, anxiety and mood;
  • Heart health
  • Diabetes;
  • And more.

People turn to magnesium supplements because there are so many benefits, but do you need to take it every day?

Needs vs. Intake

To start, you need to know how much you need. Most adults need a basic intake of about 300 mg of magnesium daily, and some people need more. Your needs may be higher if you:

  • Are under stress;
  • Exercise intensively;
  • Sweat heavily (from exercise or normally);
  • Eat a diet high in acid-forming foods, like sugar, meat, dairy and processed foods;
  • Have a high intake of caffeine or alcohol;
  • Take magnesium-depleting medications.

The best food sources of magnesium are leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, most people find it hard to eat sufficient quantities to get their daily requirements. Even the top foods aren’t as reliable a source as they once were, due to industrial farming, which has leached magnesium from the soils.

If you suspect you need more, what supplement should you choose?

How to Choose a Truly Absorbable Magnesium

Magnesium comes in a dizzying variety of forms. There are tablets, capsules, gels, powders and even transdermal magnesium. With that said, the single most important factor in choosing almost any supplement is  – absorbability. A supplement that can be absorbed is ‘bioavailable’. That means it can reach the bloodstream and go to work across the cells and systems of your body. Not to mention that many people who take an absorbable magnesium supplement say they feel the benefits right away.

Your first step should be to find a supplement that dissolves well. If it dissolves, it has a head start in being absorbed.1

When you choose a liquid form, you can be more confident that it dissolves well. Magnesium drinks usually come as a powder that can be mixed with a liquid.

But the detective work doesn’t end with choosing a dissolvable magnesium. You should also look at the label to see what type of it is in the bottle.

According to research, the most absorbable oral forms are organic magnesium salts and chelates.2, 3, 4 Look for forms like these:

  • Mg Citrate
  • Mg Malate
  • Mg Lactate
  • Mg Glycinate
  • Mg Pidolate
  • Mg Taurate
  • Mg Threonate

Often, these forms are a bit more expensive than magnesium oxide. Magnesium oxide is usually budget-friendly, but doesn’t rank among the best-absorbed forms. 2, 3, 4

Among the most absorbable forms, Magnesium citrate and glycinate vie for most-popular status. But is one better than the other?

There’s very little research comparing the two. In fact, no published, peer reviewed studies compare magnesium citrate to magnesium glycinate head-to-head.

More research is needed and especially research on human subjects. We can only really know how a supplement works from studies on living, breathing, complicated human bodies.

Listen to Your Body

The best way to tell if your magnesium is working is by paying attention to how you feel.

Are you less tense and irritable? Do you sleep better at night? If you have pain, is it improving?

If you can say “yes” to any of these, chances are, your supplement is working.

One final note. Our bodies weren’t designed to take a full day’s worth of magnesium at one time, and that’s not how we should supplement!

The best way to take any form of magnesium is in smaller, more frequent doses. When you “drip feed” magnesium, not only will you feel more consistent benefits, you’ll also avoid an excess laxative effect.

Don’t worry, all forms are natural, gentle laxatives. Loose bowels are simply your body’s way of saying, “Slow down, that’s too much!” When you’re comfortably regular, that’s a good sign you’ve hit on the optimal dose of magnesium for your body.

Not sure which supplement to try first? We recommend Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Powder!


  1. Coudray et al. Magnesium Research 2005;18(4):215-23
  2. 22 Lindberg et al. J Amer Col of Nutrition 1990;9(1):48-55
  3. 23 Firoz and Graber. Magnesium Research 2001;14(4):257-262
  4. 24 Coudray et al. Magnesium Research 2005;18(4):215-23
  5. Nutrasource, 2017 (Guelph, Ontario). Summary available at

Written by Anna O’Byrne

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