Magnesium Types: What Are The Benefits of... - AF Association

AF Association

21,655 members26,342 posts

Magnesium Types


What Are The Benefits of Different Types of Magnesium?

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium Oxide (MgO) is simply bonded to oxygen, which is obviously also something your body needs so there is nothing unnecessary in the product. The oxygen is useable by your body but will not strongly affect the way you feel taking the Mg. This is the least absorbed form, but also has one of the highest percentages of elemental magnesium per dose so it still may be the highest absorbed dose per mg. This is a great general purpose magnesium if really Mg is all you need. It makes a simple muscle relaxer, nerve tonic and laxative if you take a high dose.

Magnesium Citrate

This is one of the most common forms of Mg on the commercial market. This is Mg bonded to citric acid, which increases the rate of absorption. Citrate is a larger molecule than the simple oxygen of oxide, so there is less magnesium by weight than in the oxide form. This is the most commonly used form in laxative preparations.

Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate

In this form, Mg is bonded to the amino acid glycine. Glycine is a large molecule so there is less magnesium by weight, but the glycine itself is a relaxing neurotransmitter and so enhances magnesium’s natural relaxation properties. This could be the best form if you’re using it for mental calm and relaxation. Magnesium amino acid chelate is usually bonded to a variety of amino acids, which are all larger molecules. In this form there is less magnesium by weight but the individual amino acids could all be beneficial for different things. Every formula is different so if you need both Mg and a particular amino acid, then this could be the way to go.

Magnesium Taurate

This is a less common form, and is typically taken for cardiac conditions and heart function in general. Magnesium helps the heart muscle relax, as well as the blood vessels that feed the heart to open and deliver more blood to the heart tissue itself. Taurine is an amino acid that is known to feed cardiac muscle and enhance the quality of contractions of the heart so if you’re taking Mg for heart function this is probably the best form for you. Again, taurine is a larger molecule so there is a lower Mg by weight.

Magnesium Sulphate and Magnesium Chloride

These forms are both typically used topically, although there are some oral preparations as well. Mg sulphate is best known as Epsom salts. If you’ve taken this internally you know it tastes horrible and has a very strong laxative effect, but when used in a bath or soak it is extremely relaxing to the muscles and can ease aches and pains. Epsom salts baths can also help to lower high blood pressure and reduce stress levels. Magnesium chloride is more common in the lotion, gel and oil preparations that can be used topically for muscle cramps and relaxation.

Generally magnesium is one of those universally necessary elements that needs to be in your body for proper function, no matter what. Great dietary sources include coffee, tea, chocolate, spices, nuts and, of course, green vegetables with chlorophyll. Good body stores of magnesium will improve your health, mood and general functioning so finding the best kind of magnesium for you is tremendously important.

Magnesium L-threonate

A newer player on the magnesium front is magnesium threonate, or magnesium L-threonate. This form effectively crosses the blood brain barrier and so has recently been studied for uses such as patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline. A recent research study published in the medical journal Neuron showed that magnesiumthreonate creates improvement in learning abilities, working memory and both short and long term memory. Additionally it has the same benefits as any other magnesium including enhancing sleep quality.

Magnesium Absorption

Absorption is a separate concern. Magnesium itself is reasonably poorly absorbed (35% absorbed in the worst case scenario and 45% absorbed in the best). Generally if you are magnesium-depleted then your body will absorb any magnesium better than it would otherwise. Calcium and magnesium compete for absorption, so if you take calcium and magnesium together they will both compete with each other (meaning you will absorb less of each). Also high or low protein intake can reduce magnesium intake as well as phytates from some vegetables. Generally if you’re taking a magnesium supplement it’s best on an empty stomach. Magnesium also absorbs well through the skin (potentially far better than through the digestive tract), so Epsom salt baths (magnesium sulphate) and magnesium lotions, gels or oils (usually magnesium chloride) can be a great way to increase your body stores. Topical forms can be best if you’re using magnesium for it’s muscle relaxation and calming properties.

Orally, magnesium citrate is the best absorbed form (but it’s bonded to a big molecule so there is a smaller amount of magnesium by weight). Mg oxide is the most poorly absorbed form but has the highest Mg per weight, so actually you may get more elemental magnesium out of the same dose of Mg oxide vs. another magnesium, simply because of the size. The other forms of magnesium are somewhere in the middle in terms of absorption.

by Amy Neuzil, ND*. People’s Wellness.

7 Replies

I was told by the male south african nurse whilst i was on my drip in hospital to try to eat more food that contains magniesium, i had spinach for tea as my greens and i now have a good selection of plain cashews/almonds to have as a snack. He was telling me how the food in the uk that we eat does not contain enough mag and i should try eating food with more of it in when he was speaking to me about it he was having a good banter with the doctor but holding his ground that more mag would help me, i personally never new about mag missing from my diet.


Thank you. An interesting read . I've been taking mag for some time, initially mag taurate and currently mag glycinate as it's cheaper. My tachycardic episodes have lessened since.

I've wondered whether to try taking some sort of magnesium supplement for quite a while so this explanation about the different compounds is both interesting and useful. Thank you Aprilbday.

Carole, do try taking it! 800 mg of daily Magnesium Citrate has taken away my bursts of tachycardia and the vast majority of my ectopic beats. I do take a variety of other supplements too but I’m sure the magnesium has had the biggest effect.


Thanks Pat. I think you have nudged me into giving it a try. So far, I've never had ectopics but I do get bursts of tachycardia.

Carole, tachycardia used to wake me in the night regularly. It used to wake me when I was most tired, in the middle of deep sleep. My theory is this was when my heart rate(nsr) was at its lowest, letting the tachy step in. This hasn’t happened for several years now. I’ve taken magnesium daily(amongst other supplements) for over 5 years, taking it on holiday too. I’ve probably missed 3 days only in >5 years. My tip is to take a decent amount, right up to bowel tolerance.

Good luck Carole.


Many thanks for the advice/info. fallingtopieces. I'll give it a try and see if it does anything to help episodes of tachycardia for me.

You may also like...