Types of Magnesium and What to Use Them For

Types of Magnesium and What to Use Them For

May 31, 2022Anne Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND

Magnesium is an important mineral our body needs each day because it is necessary for more than 300 metabolic reactions to take place. This includes our nervous system, muscles, bone health, energy production, immune system and heart health. We need to eat a variety of foods to meet our magnesium needs each day, which is around 400 mg for men and 300 mg for women. Good food sources of magnesium include leafy greens, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, nuts/seeds, legumes, tofu, wheat germ, oat bran and cacao or dark chocolate. Unfortunately around 45-50% of us do not eat enough of these foods each day, which can lead to decreased energy/chronic fatigue, muscle cramps and muscle pain, headaches, anxiety/depression, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis. In some cases, supplementation may be helpful for those not eating enough foods rich in magnesium who are experiencing some of these symptoms. As always, please consult with your medical provider before taking any supplementation. And as a registered dietitian, I always recommend food first to get the most absorbable magnesium in your diet

Magnesium Citrate

  • General magnesium supplement for low levels
  • Good bioavailability, easily absorbed
  • May stimulate the gut and have a gentle laxative effect with lower doses
  • Supplement to try: Thorne Magnesium CitraMate

Magnesium Glycinate

  • A combination of magnesium and the amino acid glycine
  • Good bioavailability, easily absorbed
  • This chelate complex is gentle on the stomach, least likely to have laxative effect
  • Promotes restorative, restful sleep

Magnesium Malate

  • General magnesium for low levels
  • Good bioavailability, easily absorbed
  • Helpful for people with fatigue, soreness

Magnesium Oxide

  • Most common form available, general magnesium for low levels
  • Lower bioavailability, not as easily absorbed and may need higher amounts
  • May stimulate the gut and have a laxative effect
  • Supplement to try: Nature Made Extra Strength Magnesium

Magnesium Sulfate

  • Epsom salt, general magnesium for low levels
  • Easily absorbed through the skin, difficult to regulate absorption
  • Higher probability of stimulating the gut and having a laxative effect
  • May relax muscles and help with soreness
  • Supplement to try: Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt


Want to work with a Hy-Vee dietitian and determine what type of magnesium is right for you? Go to the Hy-Vee Dietitian website and from there you will find the dietitian who covers your area and can move forward with setting up an appointment for a FREE Discovery Session. This session allows us to learn more about your health and wellness goals and discover which of our many services will be the best fit for your needs.

*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

About the Registered Dietitian  

Anne Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND, has more than 21 years of experience as a registered dietitian and 13 years of experience as a Hy-Vee dietitian. Anne graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended Iowa State University for her dietetic internship. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she has serve as president and was the recipient of the Medallion Award and of the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award.

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