Magnesium Supplements: The Ultimate Guide

Magnesium carries a heavy load for you.

Being an essential mineral for the body and brain, it's needed in more than 600 chemical actions and reactions happening inside you at any given moment.1

In fact, every cell in your body needs magnesium to survive.

However, even if you are eating all the right things, you may still not be getting enough magnesium in your diet. Many people are magnesium deficient and don’t even know it.

An easy solution is taking a magnesium supplement.

But which one?

This guide helps explain the different forms of magnesium used in natural supplements and which one is the best for you.

Table of Contents

What is Magnesium?

What Does Magnesium Do?

Strong Bones

Healthy Heart

Muscle Strength

Stress Relief

Restful Sleep

Magnesium Deficiency

Mood Swings

Poor Sleep

Muscle Cramps

Life or Death

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Dark Chocolate!

9 Different Forms of Magnesium Used in Supplements

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium Threonate

Magnesium Carbonate

Magnesium Orotate

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium Glycinate

Why We Love Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate Buffered

Bring on the Benefits

Magnesium is everywhere on earth in water and land

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a natural mineral found in the earth, the ocean, and every plant, animal, and human.

Basically, it’s in everything – including you.

Your bones hold about 60% of all the magnesium in your body. The rest is found in your muscles, organs, tissues, and even fluids, including blood. It’s transported through the bloodstream and absorbed into your cells.

Well, hopefully it gets absorbed into your cells, but we’ll go discuss that later.

Magnesium supplements support relaxed movement exercise

What Does Magnesium Do?

Since magnesium is found in everything, it’s involved in everything - especially you.

Your body uses magnesium in more than 600 chemical reactions everyday.1

Big things like:

  • Energy: it generates energy for your cells.
  • Movement: it’s needed to contract and relax your muscles.
  • Protein: it makes new proteins from amino acids.
  • Genetics: it creates and repairs your DNA and RNA.
  • Nerves: it regulates neurotransmitters for your brain and nervous system.

These major body functions use up most of the active magnesium flowing through the body, but it’s still needed in more areas.

Magnesium is also essential for:

  • Strong Bones
  • Heart Rhythms
  • Muscle Strength
  • Stress Relief
  • Restful Sleep

Magnesium loves strong bone health

Strong Bones

Remember your bones hold about 60% of all the magnesium in your body.

Magnesium makes bones stronger.

It’s a little complicated, but it’s important and kinda cool.

  1. Magnesium stimulates the production of calcitonin.
  2. Calcitonin is a hormone responsible for osteoclasts production.
  3. Osteoclasts are cells that activate phosphatase, an enzyme that forms new calcium in the bones.  

Calcium is needed for healthy bones. However, too much calcium can actually be bad for bones. Bones need magnesium too.

This is because calcium hardens bones, but magnesium provides the flex needed to keep them from shattering.

Magnesium supplements love a healthy heart heartbeat and blood pressure

Healthy Heart

The relationship between magnesium and calcium also involves the heart.

When calcium enters the cells of the heart muscle, it stimulates the fibers to contract. Magnesium counters this by helping the cells to relax. 

This is your heartbeat.

When they are balanced, you have a steady, healthy heartbeat.

If magnesium levels get low, the excess calcium can overstimulate the heart muscle cells and cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat. This can be very serious and life-threatening. 2

A regular heartbeat also helps to keep blood pressure normal.

It’s not just the heart muscle that is affected by magnesium and calcium.

Magnesium supplements stretch muscle strength

Muscle Strength

All muscles use magnesium and calcium to basically move the body.

Like the heart:

Calcium contracts muscles. Magnesium relaxes them.

This keeps you moving and a healthy balance makes a big difference the more you move and exercise.

When the body doesn’t have enough magnesium to balance the calcium, muscles contract too much, get tight, cramp up, and cause spasms.

Magnesium supplements help you chill out and relieve stress

Stress Relief

The relationship between magnesium and calcium also influences your stress levels.

Calcium stimulates nerves. Magnesium calms them.

In fact, there are several ways magnesium controls the nervous system. Besides stabilizing nerve cells, magnesium regulates nerve transmissions and triggers the production of serotonin – the “feel good” hormone.

Magnesium also works for the endocrine system, balancing the thyroid and adrenal glands.

When magnesium gets too low, adrenal fatigue can show up with fatigue, anxiety, stress and panic attacks.

This also affects sleep.

Magnesium helps you sleep deeply and feel refreshed

Restful Sleep

Magnesium can help people fall asleep faster and sleep better. 3

This makes sense.

Magnesium is directly involved in the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles.

Magnesium has also been shown to bind to gamma-aminobutyric-acid receptors. GABA helps calm down nerve activity.4,5

So magnesium helps calm your nerves, slow down your mind, and prepare your body for a deep, restful sleep.

We’ve mentioned some problems that arise from low magnesium already, but it’s worth discussing magnesium deficiency further.

It can be a life or death condition for some people.

Magnesium deficiency causes stress, tired and exhaustion

Magnesium Deficiency

About 50% of Americans get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium.6

Modern farming practices and mass food production have shrunk the magnesium content in everything we eat. Excess stress, salt, medications, and alcohol, can lower magnesium levels. To make things worse, some people just use up magnesium faster than others.

This all leads to magnesium deficiency, which can have you feeling edgy and overall crappy.

Even worse:

The early signs of magnesium deficiency are hard to connect:

  • Mood Swings
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle cramps

Everyone has experienced these, so it’s hard to know if they could be the result of low magnesium levels.

Magnesium supplements help mood swings

Mood Swings

Magnesium is vital to neurotransmitters and hormones that help balance your mood.

The brain relies on magnesium for:

  • Gamma-aminobutyric-acid (GABA): a neurotransmitter with calming properties.
  • Glutamate: a neurotransmitter that gets you excited.
  • Serotonin: the “feel good” hormone.
  • Dopamine: the “reward” hormone.

Feeling irritated, angry, anxious, nervous are all side effects of magnesium deficiency.7 So is depression.8

Sleep troubles can be caused by low magnesium

Poor Sleep

Can’t fall sleep?

Can’t stop thinking?

Can’t stay asleep?

Magnesium can help.

Studies have shown low magnesium levels lead to a more active brain. It’s literally having to work harder because it doesn’t have what it needs. And it’s having to work harder during the day and the night.

This nighttime brain activity makes it hard to fall asleep and reach the deepest and most restful stage of sleep: slow wave sleep.9

Magnesium helps regulate the calming effects of GABA and the natural production of melatonin. These work together to quiet the mind and prepare the body for sleep.

Muscle cramps can be caused by low magnesium

Muscle Cramps

Magnesium is an electrolyte. It helps to move the electrical signals between the brain, the heart, and the body, especially the muscles.

When magnesium is low or distributed unevenly, it can trigger muscle spasms, twitches, or small flickers called fasciculations that shake just a few tiny muscle fibers under the skin.

Another common sign, and one of the worst, are muscle cramps and tightness. This often happens at night, during times of poor sleep, and a sudden cramp shoots down a leg. Usually the only thing to do is hold on and ride it out until the muscles relax and release.

Magnesium supplements keep your fire burning

Life or Death

Muscle cramping, insomnia, and a moody attitude are annoying but not too serious. 

Small problems.

But small problems can lead to big problems when they are ignored.

Some lead to life or death situations.

Living with low magnesium can lead to serious heart and cardiovascular problems.

Magnesium helps your blood vessels relax. This allows them to pump blood and nutrients around the body with a steady blood pressure.

If the vessels never relax, it can lead to endothelial dysfunction, a high-risk factor for heart disease and kidney disease.10

Research has also linked low magnesium to and cardiovascular disease, increased risk of stroke, and high blood sugar. 11

“Low levels of magnesium have been associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (e.g., stroke), migraine headaches, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).“ 12

Magnesium deficiency is serious but can be simple to fix if it is caught early.

Just eating the right foods can help.

Foods with natural amounts of magnesium

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Usually the best way to resolve any small health problem is through diet and exercise.

Since magnesium is absorbed along the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract, it can be increased by the foods you eat.  

Spinach, kale, and chard are the best magnesium-rich foods you can eat. Just one cup of these dark leafy greens contains between 40% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Plus they are packed with other essential nutrients.

Maybe easier:

3 handfuls of pumpkin seeds hold about the same amount as a cup of spinach.

3 handfuls of almonds or walnuts hold about 25% of the recommended daily amount.

The easiest:

Dark chocolate chunks have natural magnesium

Dark Chocolate!

Dark chocolate can provide almost as much magnesium as spinach. It has to be really dark though. At least 70%, but more like 85% cocoa and, brace yourself, you have to eat a whole bar. (3.5 grams)

That is just four of the foods you can add to your diet to get more magnesium.

Most people need more than what food can provide. And many people need more immediate effects. That’s why magnesium supplements are popular.

But not all magnesium supplements are made the same.

Magnesium supplements powders, capsules, pills, tablets, liquid

9 Different Forms of Magnesium Used in Supplements

Magnesium has one BIG problem:

Magnesium isn’t easily absorbed by the body.

So many different substances are bound to magnesium to try to improve absorption.

However, these different substances create very different results.

    Some help you relax.

    Some help you sleep.

    Some help you poop.

    And some don’t help very much.

    The less effective are usually the cheapest and many companies use those for cost reasons.

    They might be cheaper, but you need larger amounts to feel anything and sometimes what you feel isn’t what you want to feel. You could end up with loose stools if you’re lucky, or even worse, a day of diarrhea.

    Below are the different forms of magnesium used in supplements with the positives and negatives of each.

    Magnesium Oxide

    Magnesium oxide is magnesium bound to pure oxygen. It contains more magnesium than most other forms, but it’s poorly absorbed by the body. For this reason, it’s mostly known for being a strong laxative. It may also help relieve heartburn, headaches, muscle cramps, and even depression and anxiety.



    High magnesium Poor absorption
    Reduces headaches May cause diarrhea
    Helps depression and anxiety Large dosage amounts

    Magnesium Citrate

    Magnesium citrate is magnesium bound to citric acid. Many popular magnesium supplements contain magnesium citrate because it absorbs quickly, promotes relaxation, and helps cramping muscles.13 It’s also cheap and a strong laxative if you take too much.



    Relaxes muscles Poor absorption
    Helpful for constipation May cause diarrhea
    Absorbs easily into the body Large dosage amounts

    Magnesium Sulfate

    Magnesium sulfate is magnesium bound to sulfur and oxygen. Most people know it by another name: Epsom salt. It is often added to bathwater to help soothe aching muscles and joints, but it can be taken internally too. Although it’s not the best magnesium compound for ingesting because it can cause an upset stomach.



    Inexpensive Poor absorption
    Helpful for constipation May cause diarrhea
    Soothes sore muscles and joints Needs more research

    Magnesium Malate

    Magnesium malate is a magnesium bound to malic acid. Malic acid is a substance found in fruits and vegetables. It gets produced naturally when carbohydrates are converted into energy.  This makes it a good magnesium choice for the morning because it provides energy all way down to the cellular level.



    Boosts Energy May cause nausea
    Soothes stiff muscles Possible skin irritation
    May help fibromyalgia14 Can trigger headaches

    Magnesium Threonate

    Magnesium Threonate is magnesium bound to L-Threonate, a metabolite of vitamin C. It’s a relatively new form of magnesium that is thought to be effective at increasing magnesium levels in the brain. Research is still ongoing but it may be helpful at improving brain function and memory.15



    Easy to mix with water May cause nausea
    Crosses blood-brain barrier Can trigger dizziness
    May improve brain performance16 Needs more research

    Magnesium Carbonate

    Magnesium carbonate is magnesium bound to sodium bicarbonate. It can be used to raise magnesium levels in the blood, but used more often to reduce stomach acid, heartburn, and indigestion. It’s also used as hand chalk by gymnasts, rock climbers, and Lebron James, since it absorbs moisture easily.



    Antacid for heartburn Poor absorption
    Absorbs sweat and water May cause diarrhea
    Helps magnesium deficiency Serious side effects

    Magnesium Orotate

    Magnesium orotate is magnesium bound to orotic acid. An early clinical study has shown it can help reduce the risks of heart disease.17Some websites claim that the orotate carries magnesium across cell membranes. Unfortunately, research does not show that orotic acid improves magnesium absorption. In fact, magnesium orotate is quite expensive and doesn’t seem to offer an advantage over other forms.



    Benefits heart disease Expensive
    Can cross blood-brain barrier Poor absorption
    May help magnesium deficiency Possible cancer risk

    Magnesium Chloride

    Magnesium chloride is magnesium bound to chloride. It’s found naturally in seawater but mostly gets harvested from salt lakes, like the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Dead Sea in the Middle East. It’s helpful for increasing magnesium levels, but is mostly absorbed through the skin with body sprays.



    Absorbs through skin Poor absorption
    Blood sugar balancing May cause diarrhea
    Helpful for magnesium deficiency Dizziness after digestion

    Magnesium Glycinate

    Magnesium Glycinate is magnesium bound to the amino acid glycine. It’s the most bioavailable form of magnesium.18 It’s the best for deep relaxation, steady sleep, and stress relief. Part of this positive effect is the glycine, a calming amino acid that helps you relax and sleep.19



    Best absorption Expensive
    Strong calming effect No laxative effects
    Improved sleep patterns May cause drowsiness

    With so many positives and very few negatives, magnesium glycinate is our favorite for chilling out. It’s really the best one right now. It’s got the best bioavailability and offers full magnesium absorption without the laxative effects.  

    That’s why we use it in CHILL. But we also use a form of magnesium glycinate that is unique in itself.

    Why We Love Our Magnesium Glycinate

    Our magnesium glycinate starts with a pure magnesium oxide directly sourced from the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The minerals are naturally dried by the sun.

    Magnesium is naturally extracted in dry lake beds

    By itself, magnesium oxide is not a great form because it’s so poorly absorbed by the body. But it does have very high elemental magnesium content.

    If the absorption could be changed, magnesium oxide could be the most potent form of magnesium.

    The solution?


    Glycine is an amino acid that is easily absorbed by the body, mainly in the small intestine. Science has learned that if glycine is bound to magnesium, it boosts absorption throughout the body.

    Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate Buffered

    We found a truly unique form of magnesium glycinate.

    It’s called Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate Buffered.

    That’s a mouthful so let’s break it down to understand why it’s truly the best magnesium in the world.

    First, as we said, the magnesium oxide comes from the natural saline lakes in Utah.

    The glycine is extracted from organic sugar cane grown in Thailand.

    The great thing about glycine is it bonds to both sides of the magnesium mineral ions. This creates a fatty protective buffer of glycine around the magnesium.

    Magnesium Glycinate chemical structure

    This makes it easy for the glycine shell to absorb into the bloodstream and the magnesium stays inside for the ride.

    This boosts absorption of magnesium without the digestive problems.

    There’s one catch:

    Chelation is a wet job.

    If magnesium is wet, it will continue to react - making it unusable.

    The magnesium used in our liquid chelate formulation gets flash dried at the exact moment it fully reacts with the glycine.

    This makes it the most potent magnesium in the world.

    Bring on the Benefits

    This form of magnesium glycinate simply absorbs the best, with limited side effects, and delivers the most elemental magnesium to the body and brain.

    Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate Buffered:

    • Most Bioavailable + Maximum Absorption
    • Easy Digestion + No Laxative Effect
    • Non-GMO + Vegan


    CHILL combines a strong amount of this magnesium with a microdose of natural lithium to create a state of steady calmness.

    Non-drowsy and non-addictive, CHILL can be taken anytime of the day. Try it after dinner to get deeply relaxed and ready for a night of rejuvenating sleep.


    CHILL with Magnesium Glycinate



    Scientific Citations

    1. de Baaij, J., Hoenderop, J., Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiology Review; Vol 95. 2015; 1-46.
    2. Efstratiadis, G., Sarigianni, M., Gougourelas, I. Hypomagnesemia and cardiovascular system. Physiology Review; 2006; Oct;10. 147-152.
    3. Wienecke, E., Nolden, C., Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake. MMW Fortschritte der Medizin; 2016; Dec;158. 12-16.
    4. Gottesmann, C., GABA mechanisms and sleep. Neuroscience; 2002; Vol.111(2). 231-239.
    5. Poleszak, E. Benzodiazepine/GABA(A) receptors are involved in magnesium-induced anxiolytic-like behavior in mice. Pharmacology Report; 2008; Jul-Aug. 60(4).483-489.
    6. Rosanoff, A., Weaver, C., Rude, R. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated?. Nutrition Reviews; 2012; Mar;70(3).153-164.
    7. Boyle, N., Lawton, C., Dye, L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutritients; 2017; Apr;26(9).429.
    8. Jacka, F., Overland, S., Stewart, R. Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study; Australia New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry; 2009; Jan;43.45-52.
    9. Depoortere, H. Francon, D., Llopis, J. Effects of a Magnesium Deficient Diet on Sleep Organization in Rats; Neuropsychobiology; 1993; 273.237-245.
    10. Depoortere, H. Francon, D., Llopis, J. Low magnesium promotes endothelial cell dysfunction: implications for atherosclerosis, inflammation and thrombosis; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease; 2004; May; 1689(1).13-21.
    11. Depoortere, H. Francon, D., Llopis, J. Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies; Nutrients; 2018; Feby; 10(2).168.
    12. Grober, U., Schmidt, J., Kisters, K. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy; Nutrients; 2015; Sep; 23;7(9).8199-8226.
    13. Sills, S., Roffe, C., Crome, P., Jones, P. Randomised, cross-over, placebo controlled trial of magnesium citrate in the treatment of chronic persistent leg cramps. Medical Science Monitor; 2002; May; 1689(1).13-21.
    14. Abraham, G., Flechas, J. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. Journal of Nutritional Medicine; 2009; Jul; 49-59.
    15. Wang, J., Zhou, L., Liu, Y., Wu, Y. Magnesium L-threonate Prevents and Restores Memory Deficits Associated with Neuropathic Pain by Inhibition of TNF-α. Pain Physician; 2009; Jan; 16(5); 563-575.
    16. Slutsky, I., Abumaria, N., Wu, L. Huang, C. Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Elevating Brain Magnesium. Neuron; 2010; Jan; 65(2); 165-177.
    17. Stepura, O., Martynow, A. Magnesium orotate in severe congestive heart failure (MACH). International Jounral of Cardiology. Neuron; 2009; May; 1;134(1); 145-147.
    18. Schuette, A., Lashner, B., Janghorbani, M. Bioavailability of magnesium diglycinate vs magnesium oxide in patients with ileal resection. International Jounral of Cardiology. Neuron; 1994; Sep-Oct; 18(5); 430-435.
    19. Yamadera, W., Inagawa, K. Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. International Jounral of Cardiology. Sleep and Biological Rhythms; 2007; March.

    The views expressed in this article are intended to highlight health studies and broaden the scope of health. They do not necessarily represent the views of Most Potent. They are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.