Image showing magnesium supplements:Glycinate 500MG and Magnesium L-Threonate, two different forms of magnesium.

Different Forms of Magnesium in Supplements: Which One Should You Choose?

The quest for optimal health may require taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium promotes sleep, stress relief, better exercise performance, blood sugar regulation, bone health, and more. Sadly, nearly two-thirds of people in the Western world do not meet their magnesium needs with their diet, making magnesium supplementation necessary.

However, magnesium supplements are not made equal. There are different forms of magnesium in supplements. And the body absorbs certain forms of magnesium more easily than others. Thus, understanding the different forms of magnesium in supplements will help you choose the right one to support your health goals.

This guide will discuss the different forms of magnesium in supplements. 

What are the different forms of magnesium in supplements?

The main forms of magnesium in supplements are:

Magnesium glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is magnesium combined with the amino acid glycine.

A descriptive image of what Magnesium Glycinate is and its main benefits such as better absorption, its calming effect and that it is less prone to have a laxative effect.

This form of magnesium is well-absorbed by the body and less likely to have laxative effects. So, it is a top choice for individuals seeking to increase magnesium levels without gastrointestinal side effects.

Magnesium glycinate also has calming effects. It relaxes the body, making it useful in treating stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Get the Why Not Natural Magnesium Glycinate. It is 100% natural and does not contain fillers, excipients, allergens, or preservatives. 

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is a form of magnesium that combines magnesium with citric acid, which is naturally found in citrus fruits. 

This form of magnesium is highly bioavailable, meaning the body easily absorbs it. It is one of the most common magnesium supplements on the market. 

However, magnesium citrate has laxative effects. For this reason, it is often used (at higher doses) to treat constipation

Magnesium L-threonate

Magnesium L-Threonate is magnesium combined with threonic acid - a sugar acid derived from the metabolic breakdown of Vitamin C.

It is one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium. The body absorbs it very well, making it one of the most effective forms for increasing magnesium levels.

Magnesium L-threonate is also believed to be helpful for brain health and cognitive function. Studies have shown that it helps protect against brain cell death in animals. So, in addition to raising magnesium levels, people may take magnesium L-threonate for its cognitive benefits.

Our Magnesium L-Threonate is super clean and contains active functional ingredients, including the patented Magtein form of magnesium L-Threonate.

Magnesium taurate

Magnesium taurate is magnesium combined with the amino acid taurine. Taurine enhances magnesium absorption, so magnesium taurate is well-absorbed by the body. Magnesium taurate also helps regulate blood sugar and manage high blood pressure.

A study of patients with Type II diabetes showed that magnesium and taurine help regulate blood sugar. Another study investigating the role of taurine in vasculature demonstrated that magnesium taurate supports healthy blood pressure.

Magnesium malate

A descriptive image of what Magnesium Malate is and its main benefits such as easy absorption, low laxative effects and combats fatigue.

Magnesium malate is magnesium combined with malic acid, which is found in fruits and wine. 

A study investigating the bioavailability of magnesium compounds found that magnesium malate is better absorbed than popular forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. So, magnesium malate is easily absorbed by the body, making it a good option for replenishing magnesium levels. 

It is also a gentle form of magnesium with relatively less laxative effects. Thus, it may be fine for individuals who want to raise their magnesium levels without gastrointestinal side effects.

Malic acid helps the body produce energy from food. Thus, magnesium malate can also be used to combat fatigue and is often recommended for treating fibromyalgia.

Magnesium lactate

Magnesium lactate is magnesium combined with lactic acid, a compound naturally produced by the muscles. It is less popular as an over-the-counter dietary supplement, but the body absorbs it well, making it great for replenishing magnesium levels. 

Studies also show that magnesium lactate is gentler on the digestive system than many other forms of magnesium. It is best for people who do not tolerate other forms of magnesium or need very large doses of magnesium.

Magnesium orotate

Magnesium orotate is magnesium that is combined with orotic acid, a natural substance required for RNA, DNA, and glycogen synthesis.

Like magnesium glycinate, magnesium orotate is easily absorbed by the body and does not have strong laxative effects. So, it’s excellent for raising magnesium levels and won’t cause gastrointestinal distress. 

Research suggests that magnesium orotate may promote heart health because it improves energy production in the heart and blood vessel tissues. Studies that investigated the use of magnesium orotate in managing severe congestive heart failure found it effective for symptom management and survival.

Magnesium oxide

Magnesium oxide is magnesium combined with oxygen. It has a high elemental magnesium content but lower bioavailability than other forms of magnesium, meaning the body poorly absorbs it.

Its poor absorption makes it less ideal for supplementation to raise magnesium levels. It also has laxative effects, so it’s more frequently used to relieve heartburn, indigestion, and constipation.

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is a magnesium salt that combines magnesium and chlorine. This form of magnesium is absorbed well in the digestive tract, so it is suitable for treating low magnesium levels.  

Magnesium chloride is also found in topical magnesium products (like oils and lotions). These products are usually used to soothe and relax muscles.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate (also called Epsom salt) is magnesium that is combined with sulfur and oxygen. 

This form of magnesium is less ideal for supplementation as the body does not easily absorb it. It also has strong laxative effects. Thus, you can take it as a treatment for constipation. However, it’s primarily used externally. People often dissolve magnesium sulfate in bath water to aid muscle relaxation and relieve soreness.

Also read: Magnesium and Water Retention: Myth or Fact? (Explained!).

What is the best form of magnesium in supplements?

The forms of magnesium that the body easily absorbs are the best for dietary supplements. These include:

  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium L-threonate
  • Magnesium orotate

Our 4-in-1 Magnesium Complex contains some of these highly bioavailable chelated forms of magnesium. They are easily assimilated into the body when taken as directed. 

How to choose a magnesium supplement

To choose the right magnesium supplement, you should consider the following:


To maximize the effectiveness of magnesium supplementation, choose an option with bioavailable magnesium forms easily absorbed by the body (like magnesium glycinate and magnesium L-threonate). 

Bioavailability is the proportion of the magnesium that is absorbed and utilized by your body when you take the supplement. Thus, bioavailability affects the effectiveness of dietary supplements. 

Higher availability ensures that a larger percentage of your magnesium intake is absorbed and made available to your body, giving you more health benefits from your supplement.

Digestive tolerance

To avoid gastrointestinal upset, choose a magnesium supplement with a form of magnesium that has less laxative effects.

Some forms of magnesium may have strong laxative effects, which can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system or take them in high doses.

Consider magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate. Both are easily absorbed by the body, making them excellent for raising magnesium levels. However, while the citrate form has laxative effects and can cause digestive upset, the glycinate form does not. 

So, if you have a sensitive digestive system and want to improve your overall wellness without the distraction of unwanted side effects, choose magnesium glycinate over magnesium citrate.

Health goals

The different forms of magnesium offer different health benefits. So, the best magnesium supplement depends on the benefit you aim to achieve.

Remember that the different forms of magnesium feature elemental magnesium bound to another element or compound. The bounded element/compound itself may support a specific body function, enabling the magnesium supplement to support specific health issues. 

For example, magnesium glycinate or malate is more suitable if you supplement to support sleep or relaxation because of their claiming effect. However, if you want cognitive support, magnesium L-threonate is more suitable because of its cognitive benefits.

Additional ingredients

Some magnesium supplements may include additional ingredients that complement the magnesium's effect or offer more health benefits. Thus, when choosing a magnesium supplement, look for any additional ingredients (and check whether they align with your health goals).

For example, consider the Why Not Natural Magnesium L-Threonate supplement. It comes with L-theanine and apigenin, making it a premium 3-in-1 supplement with more health benefits than the regular magnesium L-threonate supplement.

L-theanine increases alpha brain wave activity, complementing L-threonate’s brain support. On the other hand, apigenin is a calming compound, ensuring that the supplement also helps reduce stress levels, stabilize mood, and support overall relaxation.

WhyNotNotNatural Premium 3-in-1 Magnesium L-Threonate Supplement promotes memory, sleep, and relaxation.

Purity and quality

Sadly, most magnesium supplements come with a lot of junk, such as fillers, excipients, and other unnecessary ingredients that add no value. For this reason, when choosing a magnesium supplement, it’s important to check that it is pure.

Pure and natural are the hallmarks of Why Not Natural supplements. Our supplements are free of junk and contain only active functional ingredients that will benefit you.

What are the possible side effects of magnesium?

Magnesium supplements are safe for most people because the body usually excrete excess magnesium in urine.

However, high doses (especially of the lower bioavailable forms) may cause mild symptoms like stomach upset or diarrhea in some people.

Although it is rare, people who have kidney problems or consume very high doses of magnesium may experience magnesium toxicity. Signs of magnesium toxicity include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Urinary retention

Recommended magnesium dosage

The daily recommended magnesium dosage depends on age as follows:


Recommended daily amount

Birth to 6 months

30 mg

7 to 12 months

75 mg

1 to 3 years

80 mg

4 to 8 years

130 mg

9 to 13 years

240 mg

14 to 18 years

410 mg (male)

360 mg (female)

400 mg (pregnant female) 

19 to 30 years

400 mg (male)

310 mg (female)

350 mg (pregnant female)

31 and above

420 mg (male)

320 mg (female)

360 mg (pregnant female)


Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the different forms of magnesium in supplements: 

Which is more effective, magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate?

Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are easily absorbed by the body. However, magnesium glycinate is more suited for many people because, unlike the citrate form, it does not have laxative effects, so you can use it to raise magnesium levels without worrying about digestive upsets.

Is magnesium taurate better than glycinate?

Magnesium taurate and magnesium glycinate are bioavailable forms of magnesium that are excellent for raising overall magnesium levels. However, the glycinate form supports relaxation and sleep, while the taurate form supports blood sugar regulation and high blood pressure management. 

Should I choose magnesium oxide or citrate?

While magnesium citrate is easily absorbed by the body, magnesium oxide isn’t. So, magnesium citrate is better than magnesium oxide in supplementation for raising magnesium levels.

What is the key difference between magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate raises magnesium levels without laxative side effects. It also calms and relaxes the body, so it’s an excellent choice for supporting relaxation and sleep. However, magnesium citrate has strong laxative effects, making it the choice for individuals with digestive problems like constipation.

What are the signs of a magnesium deficiency?

The few signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Tingling or numbness (especially in the hands and feet) 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Is magnesium more effective in powder form or tablet form?

Both powder and tablet magnesium supplements are effective when taken appropriately and in the right amounts.

However, powder-form magnesium supplements (when dissolved in water) can be absorbed quicker by the body for faster effects. On the other hand, tablet-form magnesium supplements offer convenience as mixing is not required before taking them.

What is the best time to take magnesium?

The best time to take magnesium can vary depending on your health goals. For example, when taking magnesium to promote sleep, it is best to take it in the evening, about one hour before bedtime. But when taking magnesium to support muscle function, it is best to take it in the morning so it can help muscle function during the day’s activities. 

Who should avoid taking magnesium?

People with kidney disease should avoid magnesium as their kidneys may be unable to excrete excess magnesium effectively, leading to dangerously high levels of the mineral in their bodies. People with heart disease should also avoid taking magnesium, as magnesium can worsen certain heart conditions and interfere with medication used to treat heart disease.

Is magnesium harmful to the liver and kidneys?

Magnesium is considered safe for the liver and kidneys when taken at recommended doses.

Which vitamins should not be combined with magnesium?

There are no significant interactions between magnesium and vitamins, so you should be able to combine magnesium with vitamin supplements like vitamins D, C, B6, and B12.

That said, minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron can affect magnesium absorption, so you should not combine magnesium with these minerals.

Also read: Can You Take B Complex and Magnesium Together? (Health Benefits Explained)

Can I take magnesium supplements daily?

Yes, you can take magnesium supplements daily. In fact, the National Institute of Health recommends taking a certain amount of magnesium daily (320 mg for adult females and 420 mg for adult males) to meet the body’s magnesium requirement.

Takeaway: Choose the right form of magnesium for your health goals

Magnesium supplements are not made equal as they feature different forms of magnesium. 

This article explains the different types of magnesium in supplements and outlines how to choose the right magnesium supplement to support your health goals. This includes considering ease of absorption, digestive tolerance, specific health goals, additional ingredients, and purity.

Very few dietary supplements tick all the right boxes. Our magnesium supplements feature the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, ensuring your body can easily absorb and utilize the magnesium. It is gentle on your digestive tract and 100% pure and natural. 

Ready to support your overall health with the best magnesium supplement? Get the Why Not Natural 4-in-1 Magnesium Complex today!

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