A scientific study on magnesium and some advice on when to take magnesium supplements and which ones to choose: we tell you what is the best form of magnesium for magnesium supplements and why.


Magnesium is a typical intracellular ion that takes part in numerous metabolic reactions. The human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, of which 99% at the intracellular level and the remainder in the extracellular fluids in the form of free ion or complexed with membrane phospholipids that with nucleotides or bound to albumin, ATP, phosphocreatine and myosin. 90% is contained in bones (60-65%) and muscles (25-30%), while only 5-7% in other cells.

When introduced with food, magnesium:

  • it is mainly absorbed in the intestine;
  • about 55% is released in the plasma in free form and 13% in complexed form with citrate, phosphate ..; the remaining part is mainly linked to albumin;
  • after absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, the magnesium, in pool, can follow different destinies: reach the various parts of the body to perform the many functions in which it is involved, be deposited in the bone tissue, be eliminated in the urine.

Magnesium homeostasis is ensured by the integrity and efficiency of the absorption process and by excellent renal function: parathyroid hormone (PTH) responds to changes in palsmatic magnesium concentrations with the same mechanism with which it regulates calcium homeostasis: in For example, in the case of a reduction in the plasma concentration of magnesium, there is an increase in the concentration of plasma PTH which determines the reabsorption of the mineral in the kidney and its release in the bone.

Most of the absorbed magnesium that is not retained by the body is eliminated mainly in the urine. The kidneys have the ability to ultrafiltrate 75% of plasma magnesium; of this, in conditions of good renal function, about 95% is reabsorbed. The kidney tends to store magnesium more efficiently the lower its concentration in the plasma. The magnesium eliminated in the faeces consists mainly of non-absorbed dietary magnesium (equal to about 70-80% of that introduced) and minimally from that secreted with bile and pancreatic and intestinal juices.

Magnesium properties and benefits

Magnesium is essential for life as an essential constituent of all living cells and even within our body, magnesium participates in chemical processes that play a vital role. Magnesium, even if in infinitesimal doses, is present in about 99% of cells, in which it plays a decisive role:

  • regulates the permeability of the cell membrane to minerals. This regulation is very important because it also allows, among other things, the transmission of nerve messages and the contraction of muscles. Magnesium is therefore decisive in the regulation of neuromuscular excitability.
  • it is essential for metabolism, as it is a necessary element for the proper functioning of over 300 enzymes (which promote and accelerate important biochemical reactions in the body). It allows metabolic reactions and allows the production of energy in the form of ATP starting from sugars and fats, it is essential for the use of energy at the level of nerve and muscle cells, and is also an effective alkalizer (counteracts acidity) .
  • it allows the production of antibodies and allows the body’s self-defense mechanisms, through the action of white blood cells, which engulf foreign bodies and pathogenic microorganisms. Magnesium also hinders the penetration of toxic substances into the cells.

So here are the magnesium benefits:

  • blood circulation: regulates cardiac activity; dilates blood vessels, helps keep blood pressure low, counteracts atherosclerosis;
  • bones: takes part in the assimilation and fixation of calcium in the bones, helping to strengthen the skeletal system;
  • brain: improves brain circulation and promotes attention span, fights states of hyperexcitability and nervousness, fights depression and promotes sleep;
  • muscles: it is useful for people who perform intense physical or sporting activity because, in addition to providing energy, it helps fight fatigue, cramps, lactic acid;
  • digestion: normalizes the intestinal situation as it draws water into the intestine and facilitates the evacuation of stool; stimulates the biliary system and increases the supply of bile to the intestine, thus facilitating digestion and increasing intestinal peristalsis;
  • skin: has a purifying effect on the skin.

Magnesium in the diet

Magnesium is widely distributed in foods of both animal and vegetable origin. Main sources are legumes (including soy, beans, lentils), dried fruit (almonds, walnuts ..), cereals (especially wholemeal ones). Discrete quantities of magnesium are also present in cheeses, meat, fish. Even mineral waters can bring considerable quantities. Usually in the Italian diet it is estimated that the average magnesium content is estimated at around 246-262 mg / day, obtainable from:

  • vegetables especially those with green leaves such as spinach but also in beets and vegetables; (30%)
    whole grains and derivatives; (29%)
  • dried fruit (such as in cashews, dates, apricots and dried figs and in bitter cocoa powder) and fresh fruit (bananas, oranges, plums, apples and pears); (15%)
  • eggs, meat and fish; (14%)
  • milk and derivatives; (12%)
  • water (average intake with water, 1 liter: 1-50 mg / day).

Often, however, our health depends not only on the quantity of foods with a high magnesium content but also and above all on the quality.

Magnesium: why follow the recommended intake levels

The Ministry of Health, in the table relating to the “daily intake of vitamins and minerals allowed in food supplements, revision April 2019” establishes 450 mg as the maximum daily intake of magnesium.

1. Magnesium deficiency: how to recognize it
Pathological and nutritional conditions that can cause magnesium deficiency in humans: intestinal insufficiency, biliary insufficiency, renal dysfunction, diarrhea, gastro-intestinal infections, hormonal disorders, hereditary factors, insufficient food intake, alcoholism, energy protein malnutrition.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms: muscle spasm, tremors, slowing of reflexes, behavioral disturbances, increased nervous and myocardial excitability, convulsions, anorexia, nausea, vomiting. Magnesium deficiency also causes:

  • a reduction in PTH secretion and a decreased sensitivity of osteoclasts to changes in blood calcium;
  • a high resorption of citrate in the renal tubules, which leads to an increased risk of developing kidney stones;
  • alteration of lipid metabolism, with increased blood levels of phospholipids and triglycerides, due to a reduced activity of lipoprotein lipase and lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase;
  • increase in the activity of cyclooxygenase and therefore an increase in the level of prostanoids.

2. Magnesium poisoning: how to recognize it

High introductions of magnesium (3-5 gr) induce diarrhea as a certain amount of magnesium hydroxide is formed, normally used as an osmotic laxative (which recalls liquids in the intestine). Reduced myocardial and nerve conductivity also occurs. A lethal toxic dose causes cardiac arrest.

Magnesium intoxication symptoms:

  • mild symptoms: nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, decreased heart rate, kidney retention;
  • moderate symptoms: change in the electrocardiogram trace, slowing of reflexes, mental disorders;
  • severe symptoms: slowed breathing, coma.

Magnesium supplements: when to choose them

  • to counteract fatigue, soothe muscle pain, stimulate intestinal activity;
  • to relieve anxiety and promote concentration;
  • to protect the heart and circulation, for those with hypertension;
  • to counteract insomnia and depression;
  • to facilitate metabolism and purify the skin.

What are the different forms of magnesium in supplements

A fundamental factor in the usefulness of a magnesium supplement is that the magnesium is in the form most easily absorbed by the body. The various magnesium supplements on the market are generally based on magnesium salts, which are divided between organic salts and inorganic salts:

  • among the inorganic forms of magnesium salts we find magnesium chloride, magnesium carbonate, magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) …
  • among the organic forms we remember: magnesium citrate, lactate, acetate, aspartate, pidolate, gluconate, bisglycinate …

It should also be noted that:

  • magnesium citrate is specific for fatigue and in the study: “Magnesium Citrate protects against vascular calcification in an adenine-induced chronic renal failure rat model” it was shown that magnesium citrate reduces calcification in the arteries in subjects with chronic renal failure ;
  • magnesium pidolate is specific in case of dysmenorrhea and menstrual cycle (“Effectivness of magnesium pidolate in the prophylactic treatment of primary dysmenorrhea”), cramps and muscle tension.

What’s the Best form of Magnesium?

We talked about the different forms of magnesium, but now we will explain which is the best form of magnesium, that is, the most assimilable, of all.

According to clinical evidence published on PubMed, in fact, in the clinical study “Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg-depleted rats using a stable isotope approach”, 10 different magnesium salts were compared:

  • inorganic: oxide, chloride, sulphate, carbonate
  • organic: gluconate, aspartate, citrate, pidolate, lactate

According to this study:

  • The best form of Magnesium inorganic is magnesium chloride is the most bioavailable, but with an observation: not if they are administered directly, because they are not of natural origin but obtained through synthesis processes (purification through the use of aggressive solvents such as chloroform), resulting in low bioavailability.
  • The best form of Magnesium organic? the most bioavailable magnesium salt of all is magnesium gluconate, followed by magnesium pidolate and citrate. In light of this, it must be said that magnesium gluconate is among the least used because it is among the most expensive with the lowest magnesium content.
  • The best form of Magnesium is organic or inorganic? According to the study: “Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg depleted rats using a stable isotope approach“, the magnesium inorganic forms were the worst in terms of bioavailability: the magnesium salt that demonstrated the best bioavailability ever was Magnesium gluconate followed by Magnesium Pidolate and citrate.

This is why we have selected the best magnesium supplement with the best form of magnesium for you, which you can find here.

Dr. Laura Comollo

For any clarification or for more information Contact us.

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