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Which form of Magnesium is for me?

Magnesium is an essential mineral for our health, but with so many different forms in supplements, it can be difficult to know which one is the most appropriate for your needs. Particularly if they each play different roles in the body. Read our guide on the various forms and uses.


Tired? Cramps? Palpitations? Insomnia? Annoying twitchy eye? Most of us, are used to feeling below par with the demands of modern life, the answer is magnesium.

This vital mineral is a co-factor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulates key bodily functions including protein building, nerve and muscle function, energy production, blood glucose and blood pressure regulation. [1]

Our skeleton holds a reservoir of magnesium constantly exchangeable to maintain bone integrity [2] and electrolyte balance. Interestingly low levels may be related to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, migraines, and mood disorders. [3]

Granny said 'eat your greens to get strong' how true. The green pigment (chlorophyll) in plants holds magnesium at its core, using it to convert sunlight into energy. This protein energy is passed onto animals and humans when they consume plants, nuts and seeds.[4]

However, almost two thirds of the western world’s population are not meeting their magnesium requirements through diet alone and those on medications, may be depleted further[5]. Supplementation may be the answer.

Types of magnesium and their benefits

Magnesium is a natural mineral found in the earth. However once magnesium is extracted from its natural source it becomes unstable and needs to be bound to another compound, this is called chelation. The functions and benefits of each chelate depends on the specific amino acid the magnesium is bound to; however, any form of magnesium will support energy production and address a myriad of inflammatory conditions.

Magnesium citrate, oxide, bisglycinate, taurate - what's the difference? The choice is mesmerising so here's a handy guide to help you chose the right one for you. 

For Deficiency state, Low energy - Magnesium Citrate
A form of magnesium bound to citric acid. Some research suggests this is among the most easily absorbed in the gut than other forms.[6] If your magnesium levels are low, it's the one to choose although very high doses have a laxative effect.

Magnesium Citrate

Heartburn, constipation - Magnesium Oxide - a salt of Magnesium and oxygen.

Usually sold in powder form and best known as 'milk of magnesia'. Traditionally used to treat digestive problems, heartburn and constipation. For some time, magnesium Oxide has been considered poorly absorbed but new research suggests it is as effective as magnesium citrate. [7]

Magnesium Oxide

Sleep - Magnesium Bisglycinate
Choose this if you are struggling to sleep and have a sensitive gut as it is easy on the digestion. Glycine is often used as a supplement on its own for insomnia. It stimulates the production of serotonin (happy hormone) that helps lift mood, improve sleep and enhance memory. Also used in a range of inflammatory conditions. It is easily absorbed and may have calming properties.

Magnesium Bisglycinate

Heart Health - blood sugar regulation - athletic performance -Magnesium Taurate
This is the one to choose if you want to support your cardiovascular system and are pre- diabetic. Recent studies show that adequate intakes play a role in regulating blood sugar levels, hypertension and cardiac muscle support[1]. This form is popular among athletes to improve performance and aid recovery however its effectiveness in this area remains controversial and more investigations are needed to support this.

Magnesium Taurate
Energy - Magnesium Malate
When malic acid, the sour tasting compound found in Granny Smith’s apples, is bound to magnesium it becomes magnesium malate, a very well tolerated and absorbed form of magnesium. Malate works with NAD+, a derivative of vitamin B3 in energy production.[8]  Subsequently, magnesium malate is often used to support fatigue states, energy production and sports performance. 
Magnesium MalatePlant sourced magnesium

Magnesium is in its most natural form when it is locked into a plant’s composition.  A wild seaweed known as sea lettuce is a rich natural source of this essential nutrient. The marine plant is grown without the need for land, fresh water or pesticides with sections taken from the rocky seabed as nature intended. Each plant is trimmed in a manner that allows the plant to maintain healthy growth. An organic magnesium of this type is an excellent choice if you want to keep your magnesium levels naturally topped up.

Sea Lettuce


Is one form of magnesium more absorbable than the other?

As the current evidence stands there is not sufficient evidence to suggest one form of magnesium is more absorbable than another. In fact, recent studies have found a variety of forms to be clinically effective.[10
Furthermore, there could also be other factors that can influence our body’s magnesium intake such as diet, symptoms and gut health.  For more information about supplements, dietary and lifestyle support, visit your independent health store at


Author: Kerry-Lee Revitt is a Nutritional Advisor at Viridian Nutrition.


[1]Jahnen-Dechent W, Ketteler M. 2012 Magnesium basics.
[2]Sara Castiglioni, July 2013, Magnesium and Osteoporosis: current state of knowledge and future research directions. Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, University of Milan.
[3]Dolati S, Rikhtegar R, Mehdizadeh A, Yousefi M. 2019 Nov 5, The Role of Magnesium in Pathophysiology and Migraine Treatment.
[4]Dr Mark Sircus, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy 2011. Magnesium the Lamp of life chapter 2 page 5.
[5]Schwalfenberg GK, Genuis SJ. 2017; The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Scientifica (Cairo).
[6]Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie S, Byng M. 2003 Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes
[7]Shechter M, Saad T, Shechter A, Koren-Morag N, Silver BB, Matetzky S.2012 Mar   Comparison of magnesium status using X-ray dispersion analysis following magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate treatment  
[8] Kumari, A. Chapter 2 - Citric Acid Cycle, Sweet Biochemistry, Academic Press, 2018, Pages 7-11.
[9]Militante, JD. Lombardini, JB. (2002). Treatment of hypertension with oral taurine: experimental and clinical studies.       Amino Acids. 23 (4), 381-393.
[10]Marta R. Pardo MSc Jan 2021 Bioavailability of magnesium food supplements: A systematic review 

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