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cyos   09 Oct 2020

What type of Magnesium is best for you?


Every cell in our body contains magnesium and requires it to be able to function. Magnesium helps convert food into energy, helps repair DNA, helps with muscle movements, helps regulate the nervous system and the body’s neurotransmitters, helps create new proteins from amino acids and those are just the biochemical reactions!

Magnesium also does so much more;

  • Helps boost exercise performance
  • Plays a critical role in brain function with depression and anxiety
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Can prevent migraines
  • Is anti-inflammatory
  • Improves PMS in women 

It is important to be aware of how much magnesium you’re consuming and to keep an eye out if you think you may be deficient. Most cases of magnesium deficiency go undiagnosed. Chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop magnesium and the amount of refined and processed foods available to us means the vast majority of people in modern society are at risk of a magnesium deficiency [14]. Magnesium is extremely important for our body to function, it’s necessary for over 300 enzymes in the human body, with 90% of total body magnesium being contained to the muscles and bones [14]. Subclinical magnesium deficiency increases the risk for numerous types of cardiovascular disease. 

Studies show that around half (48%) of the US population consume less than the recommended amount of magnesium from food [15]. The US Department of Agriculture found that the average intake for men and women is between 228mg/day and 323mg/day which is below the recommended intake. The most recently published review on magnesium concluded: ‘Approximately 50% of Americans consume less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for magnesium, and some age groups consume substantially less.’[14]

Magnesium deficiency can be a result of many factors such as kidney failure, alcohol consumption, malabsorption issues (Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease gastroenteritis, idiopathic steatorrhoea) and diabetes. One study found that over 42% of young (aged 15-18 years) sportsmen are magnesium deficient [16]. Another study concluded ‘….athletes suffer from a magnesium deficiency, partially due to physical exercise. At a minimum, approximately 15mg of magnesium is lost in sweat per day, but losses are probably greater especially in conditions of increased perspiration (exercise, heat and humidity) [17].

Let’s look at FOUR different types of Magnesium:

We are going to take a deeper look into each type of Magnesium and so you can better determine which type might be most beneficial for you.

Magnesium Citrate

This is the best type of magnesium for:

  • Constipation
  • To relieve migraines
  • PMS symptom relief 
  • To replenish low magnesium levels 

Magnesium Citrate is one of the most common magnesium types and is a form of magnesium that is bound with citric acid. The acid is found naturally in citrus fruits and is typically taken orally to replenish low magnesium levels. Citric acid is a mild laxative, which makes magnesium citrate a great choice for individuals with constipation. Magnesium Citrate is then able to create excess water in the small intestine, taking it usually results in a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 3 hours of taking. This formulation of magnesium is one of the most bioavailable, meaning it’s more easily absorbed by your digestive tract. It is often used to clean stool from the intestines before surgery or bowel procedures such as a colonoscopy. It can also assist with relief of constipation.

Magnesium Gluconate

This is the best type of magnesium for:

  • Assisting with low blood magnesium
  • Pregnancy related hypertension
  • Reducing premature uterine contractions 
  • Best taken with a meal or just after eating

Magnesium Gluconate is the most bioavailable source of magnesium and is most commonly taken orally as a mineral supplement. It is taken to treat low blood magnesium which can be caused by kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea and some other conditions. Magnesium Gluconate has been studied in the prevention of pregnancy-related hypertension [1] showing promising results and has shown results in reducing premature uterine contractions. Although magnesium is available in the form of sulphates, lactate, hydroxide, oxide and chloride, magnesium Gluconate is recommended for oral supplementation as it appears to be the best absorbed. 

A study was conducted on the effects of oral low-dose Magnesium Gluconate in prevention of pregnancy induced hypertension and its mechanism. A randomised double-blind study was carried out with 51 pregnant women. They were separated into groups and either given low-dose Magnesium Gluconate (3d/day) or placebo from the 28th week of gestation to delivery. The results found that low-dose Magnesium Gluconate may efficiently prevent PIH in high risk women. [13]

Magnesium Glycinate

This is the best type of magnesium for:

  • Sleep quality
  • To take at night time
  • Helps to reduce inflammation in the body
  • To support muscle health
  • For high absorption

Magnesium glycinate is a popular type of magnesium supplement as it is very gentle and beneficial for the body, it is a great alternative for people who are sensitive to magnesium oxide or citrate as it is less likely to have a laxative effect. In this form, magnesium is bound to glycine, a non-essential amino acid involved in protein synthesis and transmission of chemical signals in the brain. Glycine is sometimes used as a standalone dietary supplement to improve sleep and treat a variety of inflammatory conditions [3], when combined with magnesium used for its calming properties. Magnesium Glycinate has very good absorption levels so your body can make the most of it once ingested. Magnesium glycinate can also help maintain bone density, promote mental calm, relaxation, promote good quality sleep, control blood sugar, decrease abnormal heart rhythms and reduce PMS symptoms. 

In a double-blind randomised clinical trial on 46 elderly subjects, magnesium glycinate was found to subjectively improve insomnia. The subjects were placed in either the magnesium or placebo group and received 500mg of magnesium or placebo daily for 8 weeks. Questionnaires were conducted on insomnia severity, physical activity, and sleep log were completed at baseline and after the intervention period. Supplementation of magnesium was found to improve subjective measures of insomnia, sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset latency, early morning awakening, and likewise, insomnia objective measures such as concentration of serum renin, melatonin, and serum cortisol in elderly people. [11]

Some studies have also presented promising results in showing rapid recovery (less than 7 days) from major depression by supplementing 125-300 mg of magnesium glycinate with each meal at night. [12]

Magnesium L-Threonate 

This is the best type of magnesium for:

  • Brain health and cognition
  • Ideal magnesium to take in the morning
  • Depression and Age related memory loss.

Magnesium L-threonate is the salt formed from mixing magnesium and threonic acid. It was specifically created to cross the brain blood barrier [5] and to enhance brain plasticity [6] is often used for its potential brain benefits. It may help assist with certain brain disorders, depression and age related memory loss. 

One study on participants aged 50-70 who reported concerns with memory, concentration, anxiety and sleep were given Magnesium L-threonate for 12 weeks. Before supplementation they were evaluated in four aspects of cognitive ability and notes were made. After supplementation they were retested and all participants had performed significantly better in all four cognitive areas. Magnesium L-threonate also had significantly reduced their biological brain age and on average their brains functioned as if they were 9.4 years younger than when the study began [7]. More studies need to be conducted but animal research suggests it may be the most effective type for increasing magnesium concentrations in the brain [4].



Magnesium is often called the ‘master mineral’ as it’s very important for a healthy brain and the nervous system. Up to two-thirds of people in the Western world don’t meet their magnesium needs through diet alone [9]. Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions that are essential to human health. It exhibits anti- anxiety, anti-stress, anti-depressive and neuroprotective properties so it’s no wonder why people find supplementing with magnesium beneficial. 


[1] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9642379/

[2] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24696187/

[3] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28337245/

[4] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23876043/

[5] – https://medicalxpress.com/news/2010-01-magnesium-supplement-boost-brainpower.html

[6] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6623582/

[7] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927823/

[8] – https://bebrainfit.com/magnesium-l-threonate/

[9] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29093983/

[10] – https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB13749

[11] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23853635/

[12] – http://www.medicinabiomolecular.com.br/biblioteca/pdfs/Doencas/do-1848.pdf

[13] – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9642379/

[14] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5786912/

[15] – Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev 2012;70:153–64. 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x

CYOS blog content is for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Always consult with your doctor or medical professional before using any dietary supplements or if you suspect you have any medical concerns or issues.




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