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Forms of Magnesium

After looking into magnesium for months, what I came away with is that magnesium comes in two types:
- soluble forms/organic (aspartate, malate, glycinate, citrate and succinate etc.)
- insoluble forms/inorganic salts (chloride, carbonate, oxide).

Overall, the chelated magnesium and magnesium glycinate are often referred to as being very absorbable.

The soluble ones are pretty equally absorbed and as a group are much better absorbed than the insoluble group. Of the insoluble group, the oxide is the best absorbed. The insoluble group is far more likely to cause loose stools/diarrhea than the other group. If magnesium nutrition is what you want, go for the soluble group. If constipation is the issue, then some insoluble forms are okay. The loose stool effect (if not wanted) can be minimized by taking the magnesium with food.

Most of the products I saw on the shelves at the store were a mixture of magnesium types. Sometimes I would see a bottle of a specific type of magnesium, such as Magnesium Citrate. But the ones marked just Magnesium were usually a mixture. And some had as many as 4-5 different types in the mixture.

Although I have spent some time looking at magnesium sources, there seems to be varied opinions. Here is a reputable source from a book on nutrition:

"Magnesium chelated with amino acids is probably the most absorbable form. Less
absorbable forms include magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium
carbonate. Magnesium oxide is probably somewhat better than magnesium carbonate
(dolomite). The newly available salts of magnesium aspartate or citrate, both known as mineral transporters, have a better percentage of absorption."

What chelate form means:
"Magnesium Chelate (Amino Acid): A chemically reacted magnesium ion, bound to 1 or more amino acids, thus allowing the magnesium to enter through the intestinal wall via the amino acid pathway rather than active magnesium diffusion. A true reacted chelate differs from simply mixing the amino acids and minerals which is often referred to as "chelated"."

You need to balance out how absorbable a product is versus the quantity of the mineral that is in it versus the price.

Magnesium in the Body

Many times the chelated forms of anything are very absorbable and this explains
why. Next is a link to a short summary of magnesium and its role in the body:

An even shorter summary:

Recommended Dosing

Always double check dosing with a proper health care practitioner for your personal situation.

Recommended Daily Allowances:
350 mg/day for adult males over age 18
280 mg for females over age 18
320 mg for adult females - pregnant
355 mg for females lactating 0-6 months
340 mg for females lactating 6 months+
400 mg for males ages 15-18
300 mg for females ages 15-18
270 mg for males ages 11-14
280 mg for females ages 11-14
170 mg for children ages 7-10
120 mg for children ages 4-6
80 mg for children ages 1-3
60 mg for infants ages 0.5-1.0
40 mg for infants ages 0-0.5

These amounts are for healthy people. A person in an unwell or deficient state would need more. Most places recommend a 2:1 calcium:magnesium ratio for regular function, not including a deficient state. When I was researching this, I looked up the amounts in a reference book in the HFS. The average recommended amount was generally 1000 mg/day for ADHD, anxiety disorder, migraines, sleep disorders, autism and some of the autoimmune disorders. These are probably for an adult and so a child should have 1/2 or 1/3. This puts it around 300-500 mg/day. I haven't found an upper limit to magnesium, and have read several places there is no known toxicity.

Also, we saw again and again that there was not a toxicity problem because the body does not store magnesium as it does calcium. The body excretes what is not used. Your upper limit will be when you notice continuous loose stools.

Here is a link to children's doses for vitamins, minerals and herbs. You may need to piece the url together since it is so long:

NOTE: Excessive magnesium inhibits calcium and excessive calcium inhibits magnesium - although I didn't seen any amount as given as "excessive" for magnesium. Calcium had the number of 2500 mg/day most likely for an adult - from the Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements at the HFS. It is a balancing act.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is associated with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, and a bunch of other ailments. Supplementing with magnesium has helped many of these conditions in clinical studies.

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are irritability, tantrums, seizures, insomnia, muscle cramps/twitching, hyperactivity and poor digestion among others. Magnesium is needed for proper electrolyte function, over 300 enzyme functions, and calcium absorbtion.

I also found it very interested to read that one of the primary sources of dietary magnesium is whole grains and cereals. If one goes 100% gluten free, you may be losing a main source of magnesium, and could go deficient especially if you are also supplementing with extra calcium to make up for the casein free part.

Higher amount of magnesium may cause a laxative effect (milk of magnesium, epsom salts).

Clinical indications of magnesium deficiency were associated with the following:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Autism
  • Auto immune disorders- all types
  • Cerebral Palsy- in children from magnesium deficient mothers
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Constipation
  • Crohn's disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gut disorders- including peptic ulcer, Crohn's disease, colitis
  • Food allergy
  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hypertension
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Migraines
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness, fatigue
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • PMS
  • Psoriasis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stress
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Tension
  • Ulcerative colitis


Natural Calm
Natural Calm is a very absorbable magnesium citrate powder that you dissolve in water and drink. It has a very mild citrus/orange taste. Here is the site for Natural Calm
magnesium and you can get it at your health food store. They now have several flavors and offer individual travel size-type packettes:

Even if you aren't interested in this product, it has LOADS of information on magnesium, how is affects different conditions, how calcium and/or magnesium
deficiencies are created AND you can ask for a free sample to be sent. I got a free sample in the HFS and, if it is the same sample, it contains 3 full teaspoons which is 1 serving. Although for a child you would give at least half and start lower. The price on the web site is the same as it is at my HFS.

Magnesium is supposed to help with pain, migraines, chronic fatigue, fibro and other conditions. This is supposed to be quickly absorbed. The literature says it can work "in minutes" and so I made some as soon as I got home. About 20 minutes later, my headache was significantly better. It is used by doctors and clinics according to the literature.

Suggestions for mixing Natural Calm if you don't care for hot drinks:

What I did on various occassions was:

  • Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup boiling water to the amount of powder. This istantly dissolves the powder so it disperses into solution. Then add that to cold orange juice or lemonade. Even punch type drink or other juice will do. Because the natural calm is already citrus, it blends well into a citrus drink (no strange taste). You can add it to an appropriate bottle of flavored water.
  • I put the powder into empty capsules and my son just swallowed 2-3 capsules in the morning and then again at night. Eventually he liked swallowing the capsules better so I looked around for magnesium tablet, and that is when we went to the Source Naturals Mag malate. However, I he and I both felt that the Natural Calm was metabolized much quicker (he was old enough to say this because he takes it to relieve constipation. I take magnesium more migraines and muscle relaxing.)
  • You can dissolve the Natural Calm in hot water along with a tea bag - make hot or cold tea this way.

Brainchild Nutritionals Night-Cal

The supplement contains the following, per each 2 Teaspoon Dose of NightCal:
Calcium from Kreb's Chelates450 mg
Magnesium from Kreb's Chelates50 mg
Potasium Alpha Ketoglutarate100 mg
Selenium from Selenomethionine100 mcg
Vitamin D-3 as Cholecalciferol100 IU

The direct link with description is:

Magnesium Article

Here is a link to a pretty thorough, but easy to follow, description of magnesium from HealthWorld Online.

Magnesium article

"Magnesium chelated with amino acids is probably the most absorbable form. Less
absorbable forms include magnesium bicarbonate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium
carbonate. Magnesium oxide is probably somewhat better than magnesium carbonate
(dolomite). The newly available salts of magnesium aspartate or citrate, both known as mineral transporters, have a better percentage of absorption."

It also says that calcium and magnesium should be taken between meals, on an empty stomach for best absorption.

"The many enzyme systems that require magnesium help restore normal energy levels. Because of this function and its nerve and muscle support, magnesium may also be helpful for nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and muscle cramps."

Reference showing how magnesium helps with good sleep.

Magnesium Research 2002 March 15(1-2):49-66

Biorhythms and possible central regulation of magnesium status, phototherapy, darkness therapy and chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion.

Durlach J, Pages N, Bac P, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A.

Biological clock and magnesium status are linked. Central magnesium regulation may be hypothetized. Balanced magnesium status is requested to obtain efficiency of suprachiasmatic nuclei and of pineal gland. Conventional bright light therapy appears as a speedy and efficient antidepressant medication useful for the treatment of various types of depression, and of non migrainous headaches also. Although decrease in melatonin production seems accessory, increases of serotonergy and perhaps of Reactive Oxygen Species constitute the main mechanisms of action. Chromatotherapy emphazizes the effects of short exposure to specific colors. Although the increased production of melatonin constitutes the best marker of darkness, it is only an accessory mechanism of its action.

The psycholeptic sedative effects of darkness, like those of magnesium, rely on direct membraneous and oxidant actions, neural mediated effects (i.e. stimulation of inhibitory neuromodulators such as GABA and taurine), and on antagonism of neuroactive gases (CO and NO). Darkness therapyper se, partial substitutive therapy with melatonin and with their mimicking agents (Mg, L-Tryptophan,Taurine) apply to all the chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion with decreased production of melatonin: sleep disorders, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, some forms of asthma and of sudden infant death syndrome. Further research should assess the importance of the chronopathological forms of magnesium depletion in the physiopathology of these disorders.


Can oral magnesium reduce frequent migrainous headaches in children?

A study was carried out to assess whether oral magnesium can reduce migrainous headache frequency, severity, and associated features in children compared to placebo. They recruited children of ages 3 to 17 years who reported a 4-week history of moderate-to-severe headache with a throbbing or pulsatile quality, associated anorexia/nausea, vomiting, photophobia, or relief with sleep, but no fever or evidence of infection. They received either magnesium (9 mg/kg per day by mouth divided 3 times a day with food) or matching placebo for 16 weeks. Results showed a statistically significant decrease over time in headache frequency and severity in the magnesium group but not in the placebo group. This study shows that treatment with magnesium may lead to a significant reduction in migrainous headache days in children.

Headache.2003 Jun;43(6):601-10

Magnesium article from PDRHealth