Are you confused about the many different types of magnesium compounds? Many people tend to lump all types of magnesium together. However, all magnesium compounds are not
created equal. The effect of taking each type of magnesium can be quite different, both in benefits and in possible side effects, or desired effects. There are types of magnesium that can greatly aid in constipation, while others aid in the area of restlessness, nervousness, etc. Magnesium compounds differ with regard to how well they cross into the blood-brain barrier.
One thing I will say out of the gate: if you have any kidney problems or neurological diseases which cause poor muscle tone (such as myasthenia gravis), please speak to your health professional before starting any magnesium supplementation. For people with these issues, magnesium supplementation may be contraindicated. If you have a history of bowel obstruction and are experiencing constipation, please seek medical help before attempting to treat yourself. If you have constipation and are also not having any flatus (gas) please see a health professional immediately to make sure you do not have a bowel obstruction and not just constipation. If you have chronic constipation, please make sure to see your health professional to make sure you do not need further work-up such as a colonoscopy or a check for thyroid disease (please see our upcoming article regarding causes of constipation).
When it comes to Magnesium here are some of the differences you might what to consider:
Magnesium hydroxide is the active ingredient in Milk of Magnesia. Most of us know that Milk of Magnesia is a laxative. Magnesium hydroxide does not absorb across the blood-brain barrier and well...literally “goes right through you.” However, if that's the desired effect, then that's what you'll get! Magnesium hydroxide can cause looser bowel movements in doses even as small as 200 mg, although the typical dose is about 400 mg per day taken on a daily basis. Just as an aside, the suggested dosage on a bottle of Phillip's Milk of Magnesia contains a whopping 1200 mg of magnesium hydroxide per teaspoon -- definitely a mega dose which is designed to address major constipation.
If you're a person who's fast and loose when it comes to #2, you probably will want to avoid taking much magnesium oxide unless you have a luxury bathroom you don't mind spending a lot of time in!
can also be helpful for bowel movements but requires higher doses than it does with magnesium oxide. Magnesium citrate is used as part of the preparation for colonoscopies, in which case it is given at a dose of 1.74 grams of 1740 mg provided in an oral solution. This is also often used for major constipation in smaller portions by health professionals. I usually do not prescribe the oral solution generally available over the counter however, because it contains saccharine and other artificial additives.
In my clinic, when recommending magnesium for just daily regularity in my patients with symptoms of mild constipation, I generally recommend 1-3 capsules of our 100 mg Magnesium Citrate
capsules. It is important to start with a low dose and increase gradually, and then cut back when you start to have looser stools. When dealing with patients with symptoms of constipation that are more severe (for instance after using narcotic medications), I generally recommend that patients open 3-4 capsules of magnesium citrate into a cup of very diluted juice (water with a splash of apple or grape juice) and drink daily until constipation subsides.
To summarize, magnesium citrate is well-absorbed, can loosen stools a little (or a lot at high doses), and helps normalize blood vessel tone. It can also normalize the feeling of *
palpitations. Also, because it is quickly absorbed, it is very helpful in situations of dehydration
from vomiting and sweating.
Magnesium sulfate is a magnesium compound containing sulfur and oxygen. Magnesium sulfate is best absorbed through the skin (and not the gut). Have you ever taken a bath in Epsom Salts? Many people swear it relaxes and relieves pain and muscle cramps; the magnesium sulfate is the active ingredient. In hospitals, magnesium sulfate is given to people in intravenous form when they have low blood levels of magnesium.
Magnesium sulfate can also be taken orally as a rapidly
-acting laxative (not recommended).
Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Maleate
These 2 types of magnesium are very similar and are neutral when it comes to bowel function. They will not make your #2 fast and loose. They do not cross well into blood-brain barrier or muscles and nerves (but do so better than the aforementioned types of magnesium).
Magnesium glycinate and magnesium maleate help blood vessel tone (and therefore can help support normal blood pressure), can support normal muscle function after exercise and electrolyte loss, or for those who have cramping. These types of magnesium can also help with feeling of *
palpitations (feelings that the heart skips a beat).
Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate
There is evidence that magnesium amino acid chelate (magnesium complexed with an amino acid and attached to an anion in one or more places),1
may be well-absorbed by the body.2
In addition, amino acid compositions are formulated to affect one or more targeted tissue sites.3
is well-absorbed. It is bowel-neutral in that it will not cause diarrhea but it can still help normalize bowel movements by helping smooth muscle relaxation in the bowel wall. What is unique about magnesium threonate, is that it crosses well into blood-brain barrier and is, therefore, the best magnesium for muscle and nerve relaxation including the feeling of restlessness or *
palpitations. Magnesium threonate is most likely to help with sleep and with feelings of anxiety. Our Magnesium threonate, "SoothingCalm Magnesium Powder
," is also available in capsule form: "SoothingCalm Magnesium Capsules
Magnesium gluconate is available over the counter (OTC). Magnesium gluconate does not appear to absorb very well; it appears to be bowel neutral. Many OTC types of magnesium have additives such as soy, synthetic ingredients used as stabilizers (the same ones used in cosmetics), and artificial color–usually now printed as “Color Added.”
As you can see, all magnesium compounds are definitely not created equal! Please talk with your doctor before starting this, or any other type of dietary supplementation. Visit Doctor Emi's Natural Health Store
to browse our various magnesium compounds.
*Note: If you are experiencing palpitations, please get checked by your physician immediately as palpitations can sometimes be a sign of more serious conditions.
The Doctor Emi Team
ConsumerLab.com Are supplements with amino acid chelated minerals better than those with other forms of minerals? 2017.
Google Patents. Amino acid chelated compositions for delivery to specific biological tissue sites. Abstract US 4863898 A