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Which Form of Magnesium is Best?

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

When talking about impactful nutrients, it doesn't get more essential than magnesium. When we get down to the fundamentals, our bodies' mitochondria cannot produce ATP / energy without this mineral, and without ATP, we would cease to exist!

Thanks to severely mineral-depleted soils combined with Mg's rapid 'burn rate,' we aren't getting enough magnesium from our food. This is why we must get copious amounts of magnesium into our systems through oral Mg supplementation and, more importantly, the topical application of magnesium.

I am repeatedly shocked at the number of health-conscious people who are either not supplementing, debatably, the most critical mineral in the body or are unknowingly swallowing magnesium capsules that are either loaded with toxins or horribly absorbed. You'd probably be surprised if you opened up your magnesium supplement and learned how little of that magnesium was getting absorbed.

Our research shows that magnesium intake should range between 5-10mg per pound of body weight, per day, depending on stress levels and physical activity. Now that we are clear on how much magnesium we should be consuming, with so many combinations and types, the next question quickly becomes, "Which form of magnesium is the best to take?". Below we break down some tips to help you make the wisest choice!

How can there be different kinds of magnesium?

Magnesium supplements can be bound to several different compounds like oxygen, an organic acid (citric acid or malic acid), or an amino acid (taurine or glycine). The pros and cons of these different magnesium compounds ultimately boil down to the properties of the compounds and their chemical bonds rather than the Mg itself. These different kinds of magnesium deliver varying amounts of what is known as 'elemental magnesium. Elemental Mg is the amount of actual magnesium within each salt and is important in helping us calculate how much Mg we put into our bodies. Unfortunately, as we will learn, the amount of elemental magnesium we put into our bodies is rarely fully absorbed, but we will work on that. A supplement's elemental magnesium levels are crucial for us to tell how much magnesium (rather than the compound) is actually in the supplement. Looking for a supplement with high amounts of the elemental mag and a high absorption rate is key to selecting the optimal magnesium for you. Each differing magnesium compound also delivers the pros and cons of its 'partner' molecule, i.e., the other molecule that the magnesium is bound to (oxygen, malic acid, taurine, etc.). These 'partners' often have their own impact upon entering the digestive tract and body. We will discuss these molecules' benefits and common side effects below to help you make the best choice!

In addition to these different forms of the mag, there are multiple other delivery methods to consider. The most common delivery methods we will outline in this blog are oral supplementation and transdermal application. If you want to move the magnesium levels up in the body rapidly and safely, it is wise to implement topical forms in addition to oral Mg supplements.

Research demonstrates 88-96% of the magnesium taken via oral supplementation is quickly excreted out of the body as waste. Unfortunately, we also lose significant amounts of orally consumed magnesium through the GI tract and the kidneys. As a result, most oral Mg supplements often take over a year to have any impact on your red blood cell magnesium levels! Dr. Mercola is crystal clear when he breaks down how he and many of his patients couldn't start moving the dial on their red blood cell magnesium levels until they began to introduce transdermal forms. Raising your magnesium levels may be easier when you have a float tank at your home, like Dr. Mercola. Fortunately, there are still many excellent topical magnesium options to implement for just pennies a day!

In contrast to oral supplementation, magnesium that is absorbed transdermally through the skin is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can be used by the body instantaneously! Topical or transdermal magnesium is also not subject to the pesky GI tract or kidneys, where most of our magnesium intake gets lost during our body's processing. Another massive advantage of topical Mg is that it leverages your body's natural 'failsafe mechanism' where your skin will only absorb as much magnesium as it needs, instead of having to guess with oral supplementation.

I did my best to detail my reasons for ranking the following forms of magnesium from worst to best. I hope this helps!

The Worst Forms of Magnesium

Magnesium glutamate and aspartate: We highly recommend avoiding these two forms of oral magnesium at all costs. These compounds, glutamic acid and aspartic acid, are parts of the harmful artificial sweetener aspartame. If that wasn't enough, these compounds become potent neurotoxins when unbound from other amino acids.

Second Worst

Magnesium citrate: This cheap form of oral magnesium is the basis of most oral magnesium supplements on the market. This form of magnesium is also not recommended for many reasons. Although Mg citrate is absorbed slightly better than magnesium oxide, users pay a hefty price when consuming this highly toxic form of magnesium. Mg Citrate is ranked poorly primarily because it is bound to an inorganic (GMO) citric acid molecule. If you didn't already know, citric acid is frequently made in a lab from black mold grown on GMO corn! If you want to avoid trashing your ceruloplasmin, causing iron dysregulation, and other more serious health issues, avoid all citrate forms of minerals, especially magnesium citrate!

Third Worst

Magnesium oxide: Although mag oxide does have a higher amount of elemental mag than other forms and is the most common form of magnesium sold in pharmacies, it is made from a cheap, inorganic salt of magnesium that is extremely poorly absorbed. We recommend avoiding this form of magnesium whenever possible because it is non-chelated, making it notoriously non-bioavailable. Only 4% of magnesium oxide is absorbed, which is why it is one of the most ineffective ways to reach your mag goals.

Top 5 Best Forms of Magnesium:

#5 Best

Magnesium sulfate: Although not super safe to consume orally, since it is extremely easy to overdose on, causing upset stomach and diarrhea, Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom Salts, has been used as a topical form of magnesium for hundreds of years. Many claim relief from soaking in Epsom salts, but it is important to note that there is zero research demonstrating that the magnesium in Epsom salts can be absorbed through the skin! Soaking in Epsom salt can be helpful for sore muscles, but they are not a reliable or proven way to get magnesium into the body.

#4 Best

Magnesium malate: If you are looking for a deliberate energy boost, this highly soluble Mg supplement may be a good one for you to consider. Malic acid is responsible for the tart taste in various fruits and is a crucial component of enzymes that help produce ATP / energy. Since this is an oral blend, it can take ~9-12 months to build up your magnesium stores, but many users will start feeling the increased energy production soon after consumption.

#3 Best

Magnesium glycinate (aka bisglycinate): Magnesium bound to the non-essential amino acid glycine is an excellent, safe, and well-absorbed option for people looking to boost their magnesium levels. This form is fantastic for helping correct a long-term Mg deficiency because it is bioavailable and less likely to induce diarrhea. The amino acid glycine is also naturally relaxing, helps heal the gut, and alleviates nerve pain, which are all added pluses of this oral blend.

#2 Best

Magnesium carbonate: Magnesium carbonate is an even better oral form of magnesium that turns into magnesium chloride when it mixes with the hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Magnesium Chloride is highly absorbed, eliminates indigestion and acid reflux, and boosts many metabolic functions.

The #1 Best Form of Magnesium!

Magnesium chloride: Magnesium chloride is naturally an ionic form of magnesium, meaning it is positively charged and effortlessly absorbed by the body. This compound's ionic traits are one of the primary reasons that it has a tremendous absorption rate and is the best form of magnesium for detoxing the cells and tissues of the body. In addition to all of the benefits of this stable magnesium, the macro-mineral chloride has many advantages, including aiding kidney function (which further helps with mag absorption) and skyrocketing many metabolic processes! Soaking in magnesium chloride is also highly bioavailable, extremely safe, and

hands down the most proven & rapid way to get magnesium ions into the bloodstream, where it can be used by the body immediately! Topical mag chloride also bypasses the GI tract and the kidneys while also allowing your skin to stop absorbing it (by blocking off the hair follicles) when your Mg stores are topped off. Soaking in MgCl or applying it topically is the most impactful way to move the dial on your magnesium levels in the body. Unfortunately, many forms of MgCl are highly polluted with toxic heavy metals like mercury which can do more harm than good. Opting for the purest source of MgCl is extremely important.

How To Find the Purest Source of MgCl?

As we mentioned earlier, much of the world's magnesium chloride is sourced from mines that are extremely polluted with heavy metals and mercury. After compiling research on the world's Mg chloride mines, we narrowed it down to the purest source of Mg chloride, free from pollutants and toxic heavy metals like mercury. After looking at the charts, magnesium chloride from this mine is the only one I would personally soak in or recommend. This is the magnesium source we use for our Vitality Salts.

How To Use Magnesium Chloride?

Many products exist, ranging from salts to sprays and even lotions, but which is best? Foot soaks are our go-to for many reasons. Not only do we have the most prominent pores on our entire bodies on the bottom of our feet, but we also have the nerve endings to every major organ in the body, says Chinese medicine. Foot soaks are also incredible because you can get a highly dense concentration of magnesium chloride water with just a few tablespoons of quality salt, helping the body and saving the wallet.

How to Optimize How Much Magnesium You Absorb During Your Soak?