Magnesium glycinate, citrate, oxide, lactate, and more, it’s important to know the difference.

What’s the difference between common forms of magnesium?

With many brands of magnesium on every grocery and health store shelf, it can be hard to identify which magnesium supplement compound is the right one for you. While you may be able to recognize your need for more magnesium intake, there are clear and specific differences between the different types you can purchase.

It is important to educate yourself on the various compounds of a mineral supplement, as you don’t want to make the mistake of taking one that is not geared towards your specific needs. You also should be aware of which compound you are taking because each supplement presents a different set of side effects.

Key terms to know:

Concentration: In chemistry, concentration refers to the abundance of a solute in a solution or solvent. For the purposes of this article, concentration refers to how much magnesium is in the compound compared to other substances.

Bioavailability: Bioavailability refers to the proportion of a drug or other substance that is absorbed into the systems circulation, therefore having an ‘active’ effect.

Common Forms of Magnesium

Magnesium glycinate is most commonly known as a calming amino acid. What makes magnesium glycinate different from other forms of magnesium is that glycinate has a less aggressive laxative effect on the digestive system. The compound is also considered an option for pain relief.

Magnesium citrate has low concentration but high bioavailability. This compound is typically used to induce bowel movements, as well as decrease risk for kidney stones.

Magnesium oxide is also referred to as “magnesia”. Used therapeutically for relief of acid reflux, and as a laxative, magnesium oxide will undoubtedly cause disruption in the bowel. This compound of magnesium is highly concentrated but has poor bioavailability.

Magnesium orotate is created through the mineral salts of orotic acid. Orotates penetrate cell membranes and enable the proper delivery of magnesium. Magnesium orotate is most known for benefiting cardiovascular health.

Magnesium taurate is designed to treat cardiovascular issues and is known to prevent further damage during heart attacks. While effective, this compound of magnesium is not known to provide more general health benefits.

Magnesium malate is predominately used to treat chronic fatigue, as well as other fibromyalgia symptoms; however, this compound may cause unwanted stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Magnesium lactate acts as a mineral supplement for those treating digestive issues. Please note that those who suffer from any kidney related problems should not consume magnesium lactate.

Fun types of Magnesium:

Magnesium Sulfate

Sound familiar? That’s because magnesium sulfate is also known as: ‘Epsom Salt’. Yes – the kind you use for relaxing in the bath. Epsom salts are not to be consumed for mineral supplementing. If consumed, this form of magnesium has a powerful laxative effect and can lead to magnesium poisoning.

Magnesium Carbonate

Magnesium carbonate is an inorganic white salt, also known as chalk. This type of magnesium is used in flooring, fire extinguishers, and cosmetics. Magnesium carbonate is often added to salt to keep from sticking together in humid weather. Magnesium carbonate can also be used a laxative but is less popular than other forms of magnesium for bowel loosening.