Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body, and 50% of magnesium is located in the bones. Magnesium, which is similar to zinc, is a necessary cofactor for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. These chemical reactions help the body build muscles, maintain nerve function, promote a healthy heart, and sustain optimal immune system function.
Scientific studies are studying how magnesium alleviates or circumvents many common chronic ailments. If you are interested in taking magnesium for better health, it helps to be knowledgeable about the various magnesium supplements, especially magnesium orotate, the best form of the mineral supplement.
Magnesium is not easily absorbed in the body unless first attached to a transporting substance. For this reason, many supplement manufacturers have "chelated" magnesium to organic and amino acids. A few of these include magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate, magnesium orotate, and magnesium carbonate. The quality factor for all these supplements is dependent on the amount of magnesium it contains, its bioavailability, and how well it dissolves in the gut. Bioavailability refers to the amount of magnesium in the supplement that can be assimilated by the body and used to produce the desired health benefits.
9 Types of Magnesium
1. Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate
A magnesium amino acid chelate is magnesium connected to an amino acid. This could be a glycine, aspartic acid (aspartate) or arginine (arginate), or another amino acid. Magnesium aspartate and arginate are considered to be the best.
2. Magnesium Oxide
Magnesium oxide is therapeutically used as a laxative and to provide relief for acid reflux. Because this form of magnesium has poor bioavailability (only 4%), magnesium oxide supplements may contain up to 60% more magnesium than other supplements so that enough can enter the bloodstream and provide the intended effect.
3. Magnesium Citrate
Derived from the magnesium salt of citric acid, magnesium citrate is highly soluble and has higher bioavailability than magnesium oxide. Magnesium citrate is commonly used to induce bowel movements but has also been studied for kidney stone prevention.
4. Magnesium Orotate
Magnesium orotate, also called magnesium orotate dihydrate, is the most effective form of magnesium supplement and extremely helpful for addressing deficiencies. Magnesium orotate is a compound that includes both magnesium and orotic acid. Extensive scientific research by Dr. Hans A. Nieper, M.D. shows orotates can penetrate cell membranes, enabling the effective delivery of the magnesium ion to the innermost layers of the cellular mitochondria and nucleus. This is particularly important in heart and nerve cells, which are unable to renew or regenerate when damaged, and hence effective delivery of magnesium is important to the recovery of these tissues. Magnesium orotate has many properties that support your health while providing one of the most readily absorbable forms of magnesium.
5. Magnesium Chloride
Magnesium chloride has a higher bioavailability than magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate, and a bioavailability equivalent to magnesium lactate. The magnesium concentration in magnesium chloride supplements is low, around 25%, to balance its higher bioavailability. A supersaturated magnesium chloride oil can be applied to the skin for sore muscles and has been recommended by some as a supplement for those who experience an undesired laxative effect from pills.
6. Magnesium Lactate
This type of magnesium shows higher levels of bioavailability than magnesium oxide. Magnesium lactate is a mineral supplement commonly used to manage digestive issues. Magnesium lactate should be avoided by those with kidney disease or kidney-related concerns.
7. Magnesium Sulfate
Magnesium sulfate is a form of magnesium with an elemental concentration of 10% and lower levels of bioavailability. It contains magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen and is often sold as Epsom Salt, which can be added to baths to relieve sore muscles. Magnesium sulfate has been found to have pain-killing properties during spinal anesthesia, but may cause headaches during the procedure.
8. Magnesium Carbonate
Also called magnesite, magnesium carbonate is used as a remedy for heartburn and upset stomach. Its bioavailability is about 30% when taken internally. Magnesium carbonate has a strong laxative effect when taken in high amounts. It is also commonly used as chalk used as a drying agent by pitchers, gymnasts, rock climbers, and weightlifters.
9. Magnesium Glycinate, Malate, & Taurates
These are chelated forms of magnesium which are sold with lower concentrations of magnesium because it is in a highly bioavailable form. These three types of magnesium have a variety of uses.
- "Magnesium: Fact Sheet for Professionals." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. NIH.gov. 2 Mar 2018.
- Firoz M, Graber M. "Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations." Magnes Res. 2001;14(4),257-62.
- Walker AF. "Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study." in a randomised, double-blind study." Magnes Res. 2003;16(3),183-91.
- Classen HG. "Magnesium orotate–experimental and clinical evidence." Rom J Intern Med. 2004;42(3),491-501.
- "Orotates and the mineral transporters of Dr. Nieper." Delano Report. 27 Dec 2009.
- Zeana C. "Magnesium orotate in myocardial and neuronal protection." Rom J Intern Med. 1999;37(1),91-7.
- Dean C. "The Magnesium Miracle." New York: Ballantine Books. 2006.
- Albrecht E, Kirkham KR, Liu SS, Brull R. "The analgesic efficacy and safety of neuraxial magnesium sulphate: a quantitative review." Anaesthesia. 2013;68(2),190-202.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.