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Magnesium Types and How to Prevent Deficiencies

Most people are deficient of the mineral magnesium. See what the best types to supplement are.

Why Do We Need Magnesium?

apple_pills_magnesium_deficiency_health_picI'm a big advocate of supplementing your diet with magnesium. This vital mineral is commonly deficient in the diet due to lower quality food sources present in the diet today and poor cooking practices. It's is involved in 300 biochemical reactions in the body and every organ, especially the heart, kidneys, and muscles, needs it. Up to 80% of the general population is deficient and that number increases for people who train.

Getting adequate magnesium is necessary for muscular contractions (training), protein synthesis (muscle building), and reducing inflammation (recovery). Not getting an adequate amount may result in experiencing higher levels of anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and irritability.

Some potential signs of deficiency may include numbness, tingling, weak muscle contractions, cramps, irregular heart rhythms, and spasms.

If you decide to supplement your diet with magnesium, you need to consider that there are several forms of supplements that can affect both the bioavailability and absorption of the mineral and provide slightly different health benefits and, therefore, results. Here are some of the differences between the various forms.

Magnesium Oxide

symptoms_of_magnesium_deficiency_imageThis is magnesium bound to an organic acid or fatty acid. This is the most common form of magnesium and the one most typically found in multi-vitamin mineral formulas. This type is also the cheapest form and has a low bioavailability (unless it is finely ground), meaning the body does not absorb it very well (only 4%), which is why it can have a laxative effect.

Magnesium Citrate

Combined with with citric acid. Magnesium citrate is absorbed 4.5 times better than magnesium oxide, but may still upset some sensitive stomachs as it has a stool loosening effect. It's is found in many supplements as a solid option to deliver magnesium to the body.

Magnesium Taurate

A combination of magnesium and taurine. They share the ability to improve cardiac function and together can provide a calming effect.

They both also have blood pressure reducing effects and improve the contraction of the heart.

Magnesium Malate

A combination with malic acid. This one can help relieve muscle cramps and spasms and may also help improve the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. In large doses it may have a laxative effect.

Magnesium Glycinate

A chelated form that tends to provide very effective levels of absorption and bioavailability. This form is ideal for trying to correct deficiencies. Magnesium glycinate may additionally improve insulin sensitivity, meaning it may help pre-diabetics and women with PCOS.

Magnesium L-Threonate

neurons_brain_memory_health_magnesium_picA highly absorbable form that may improve memory and brain function. It can help calm the nervous system post workout and raise GABA levels.

Magnesium Sulfate

This one is not used in oral preparations. It does, however, have some absorbability through the skin and as a result is found in Epsom salts. For this reason an alternate method to oral consumption would be to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths.

Magnesium Aspartate

Aspartic acid is the amino acid chelated to magnesium in magnesium aspartate. Compared to oxide and citrate, magnesium aspartate has better bioavailability. This form has been used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome but is not commonly available.

Magnesium Chloride

This one can be mixed in an oil and used for topical application. Some studies suggest that magnesium applied to the skin can be more easily absorbed. Even though magnesium chloride only contains 12% elemental magnesium, it tends to have better absorption capabilities than oxide which contains five times more magnesium.

Magnesium Pidolate (or Picolinate)

The downside of this form is that the pidolate molecule does not have any health benefits and in this form is not supported by substantial research into its health promoting benefits. However, this form has generated interest as it is inexpensive and is easily made into a liquid supplement.

Many people get good results from adding 500mg of magnesium on top of what they get from their diet. It is advisable to increase intake slowly so the body has time to adjust to the possible calming effect magnesium can have throughout the body. Taking a magnesium supplement before bed can help restore levels and help recovery and aid sleep. It can also be taken post-workout to aid recovery. When taking this supplement, your calcium intake should be taken into consideration as a ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium should be maintained for optimal health.

Learn more about magnesium and get some good, healthy sources of it here!

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