There’s one simple super nutrient involved in virtually every vital process (over 600) in your body. Approximately 80 percent of the world needs more of.
Some of its functions include:
- Generating energy and facilitating relaxation
- Crushing everyday stress preventing you from performing your best
- Rapid learning and better memory retention
- Production of feel-good neurotransmitters
- Regulating 325 different enzymes
- Repairing genes
- Promoting heart and endothelial health
- Keeping inflammation within healthy ranges
- Burning fat, insulin sensitivity, and thyroid (the metabolic hormone)
- Producing testosterone
- Acting as antioxidant defense
- Protecting the brain and adrenals
And it alleviates symptoms of dozens of dangerous conditions.
As a supplement, it’s well-researched, impactful, easy to find, and cheap.
This mineral is magnesium, and it’s a favorite among doctors, scientists, longevity researchers, health professionals, and personal trainers.If magnesium were patentable it would be a billion-dollar drug Click To Tweet
But not all products on the market are equal. Without knowing what to look for, you could do more harm than good.
This review will help you make a smart choice. I’ll cover the benefits, drawbacks, optimal forms and timing, best brands, and a thorough review of the best magnesium products available. By the end, you’ll have all the background you need to buy the best magnesium supplement for your unique life.
Magnesium is one of thirteen essential minerals in the human body. Your body requires ample minerals to perform its basic functions. Minerals come from the Earth, and are uptaken by plants and animals. We get most of our intake via food. Even slight deficiencies cause vital functions in the body to begin failing."Up to 85% of doctors visits can be attributed to magnesium deficiency" – Carolyn Dean Click To Tweet
Essentially, minerals promote:
The body cannot self-balance without adequate minerals. Magnesium alone is involved in over 600 different biochemical reactions. Consistent intake leads to peak physical and mental performance.
Minerals help the body:
- Produce energy
- Cellular repair
- Wound healing
- Sleep faster and deeper
- Enhance the heart, reduce blood pressure, help prevent disease
- Optimize the nervous system
- Power your muscles and movement
- Strengthen the immune system
- Build strong bones and teeth
- Hormone production
- Repair DNA
- Promotes skin health
Widespread deficiency plagues modern humans for several reasons:
- Magnesium-depleted soils. Pesticides, herbicides, and nitrogen fertilizers kill the rich soil ecosystem resulting in low-mineral crops.
- Anti-nutrients prevent absorption. Oxalic acid in greens, phytic acid in seeds and grains, tannins in teas, and certain chemicals in waters all bind to magnesium and render it unabsorbable.
- Delicate. Cooking, especially at high heat, destroys magnesium.
Here’s the thing…You can survive with sub-optimal magnesium levels, but you won't thrive. Click To Tweet
For more information, check out this article on why everyone is magnesium deficient.
Or listen to my interview with a magnesium expert:
Why magnesium blood tests are useless
Standard blood testing does not accurately indicate how much usable magnesium you have in your body.
General wellness panels measure what’s called “serum blood magnesium”.
Serum blood magnesium tests include the magnesium in your bones, cells, and tissues. We care most about the magnesium available for your body to use.
The body’s innate intelligence closely regulates magnesium levels. As soon as magnesium in the bloodstream declines, the body pulls it out of cells to stabilize.
Thus, a serum test may falsely show normal levels.
Several better tests exist:
- Ionic magnesium
- RBC magnesium
For ease and cost, I prefer the highly accurate RBC magnesium test which comes included in advanced blood panels (such as InsideTracker). If you care about optimizing your health and performance, you’ll want to check out my InsideTracker Ultimate review.
Today, even the cleanest whole-foods diet lacks adequate magnesium. Unfortunately for those following keto or paleo, grains and legumes are some of the best sources.
Supplementing magnesium is especially important on keto, while fasting, and for those that need to accelerate growth and recovery.
Serum magnesium levels follow a diurnal pattern. It should naturally spike in the morning and evening. You can take it with or without food. If you experience any of the below side effects, research suggests that consuming with food can prevent them.
This is a basic breakdown of the forms of magnesium and whether you need to take them on an empty stomach for maximum absorption.
|Inorganic salts (taken on an empty stomach)||Organic salts (taken with or without food|
When I do an extended fast (2-7 days), I double down on magnesium intake. If you sweat or push yourself while fasting, minerals help the body recover faster and normalize stress hormones. I like to take magnesium alongside Celtic sea salt and another potassium-rich salt.
What to look for in a magnesium product
Sadly, many of the most popular magnesium products don’t work. Including the ones with fancy labels and cool colors. They have the same glaring problems as other dietary supplements.
Since any product won’t do, here’s what I look for when I come across new magnesium:
- Amount of elemental magnesium
- Any fillers, binders, excipients
- Third-party verification. United States Pharmacopeia or the National Products Association
- Serving size and type of product
- Synergistic ingredients added to the formula
- Form of magnesium (and the corresponding percent of elemental magnesium absorbed)
That last one warrants special attention.
How to make magnesium supplements work better (and reduce potential side effects)
Back in the days of mineral-rich soil, we’d naturally get plenty of magnesium along with other vitamins and minerals.
Man-made supplements generally don’t absorb as well as whole-foods sources.
Vitamin B6 helps carry magnesium into our cells. Most people, however, don’t have the genes to do the conversion efficiently. Plus, those with unhealthy livers have an even harder time transporting magnesium into cells. The better activated form called P5P (Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate) skips the conversion process. P5P is responsible for 30 essential enzymatic reactions, this includes generating the brain’s serotonin and dopamine.
If you get diarrhea or other symptoms of poor absorption, it indicates that you’re consuming more magnesium than the body can handle. Choosing a product with P5P can help.
Most Effective Forms of Magnesium
I’ve counted over 9 different forms of magnesium. Each with specialties and drawbacks. What follows is the background on the best commercially available forms of magnesium:
|Magnesium Type||Absorption||Uses & Benefits||Side Effects||Price||Value||Other Notes|
|Oxide||Low||Filler in supplements||Diarrhea||Very Cheap||Low||Generally not recommended|
|Aspartate||Potentially neurotoxic||Moderate||Low||Found in a supplement called ZMA|
|Glycinate||14%||Great for sleep, relaxation, recovery, anti-anxiety, depression, and symptoms of excess stomach acid (upset stomach, heartburn, acid indigestion)||None||Moderate||Great|
|Citrate||25-30%||Citric acid chelates calcium and oxalates which helps prevent kidney stones. Also improves arterial stiffness and reduces obesity. May increase athletic performance by reducing lactate accumulation.||Diarrhea||Cheap||Good||One of the most common forms recommended|
|l-Threonate||Low||Crosses the blood-brain barrier where it improves memory, attention, and processing speed. Limited research suggests it can help with cognitive dysfunction, sleep disorders, and anxiety.||None||Expensive||Medium||Study found L-threonate reduced measures of brain age by nine years.|
|Orotate||Good||Particularly beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Might improve improving athletic performance, endurance, heart health, and metabolic health.||None||Expensive||Low|
|Chloride (oil)||Great||Near instant effects.Increases stomach acid, boosts energy and endurance, promotes relaxation and sleep, and most notably, reduces muscle soreness, pain and cramping.||Itchiness for the first few applications||Moderate||Great||Very high absorption, due to the form and transdermal delivery method. My favorite form of magnesium.|
|Sulfate (Epsom salt baths)||Great||Near instant potent, full-body effects.Increases stomach acid, boosts energy and endurance, promotes relaxation and sleep, and most notably, reduces muscle soreness, pain and cramping.||Deep relaxation||Moderate||Good||Very high absorption, due to the form and transdermal delivery method.|
|Malate & Dimalate||Great||Can help improve migraines, depression, the respiratory system, metabolic health, mood, blood sugar control, exercise performance, and chronic pain.||None||Cheap||Great||My second favorite. Found naturally in certain fruits.|
|Taurate||Great||Can benefit the brain, improveheart health, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation.||None||Moderate||Medium||Often combined with L-threonate.|
|Sucrosomial (liposomal)||Great||Supports energy production, strengthening the immune system, improving bone health and skeletal development.||None||Expensive||Medium||Liposomal supplement technology is more expensive but vastly increases absorption. Unknown if this is worth the cost for magnesium.|
|Hydroxide||Low||Used as a laxative and to buffer stomach acid.||Laxative, reduces stomach acid||Cheap||Low||Poorly absorbed due to low solubility in water. Found in milk of magnesia.|
The rough calculation of the actual amount of magnesium you absorb is:
dose x elemental magnesium x absorption rate of the specific type
Your body uses different forms of magnesium differently.
Smart manufacturers have begun combining forms for synergistic effects.
One such example is MagTein® (L-Threonate & Acetyl Taurate). This form better crosses the blood-brain barrier, reduces anxiety, supports healthy GABA levels, and improves memory.
The best, however, combine even more. One of my favorite products contains 7 different forms of magnesium (as you learn below).
Note: Check with your healthcare provider before choosing a product
Best Magnesium Products & Brands of 2021
With magnesium, a bigger dose isn’t always better. there are many different types of magnesium — and each plays a critical role in different functions in your body. Certain cofactors and other ingredients create an ever more powerful synergy. The top brands know this and have more complex formulas.
I personally take five different kinds of Mg every day.
Best Overall: BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough
Magnesium Forms: Chelate, bisglycinate, sucrasomal, malate, orotate, taurate, citrate
Dose: 500mg of elemental magnesium
Synergistic Ingredients: Vitamin B6, Manganese, Humic/Fulvic minerals
Contents: 60 capsules
Serving Size: 2 capsules
BiOptimizers has an obsession with using optimal, effective doses of the most researched ingredients. Their team of scientific advisors and experts include Dom D’Agostino, Monia Avdic, PHD, Sabina Halilovic, PHD and some of the world’s greatest supplement formulators. They don’t create products unless they’re able to beat everything else. Such is the case with Magnesium Breakthrough.
Magnesium Breakthrough combines 7 different forms of magnesium in a monoatomic humic & fulvic blend to optimize the mind and body and further optimize absorption. Their formula includes vitamin B6 and manganese for even greater effects (backed by this study).
BiOptimizers produces their products in a USA-based, cGMP-certified facility. You can request a third-party CoA showing purity and safety. Orders over $150 come with the new book From Sick to Superhuman: The Biological Optimization Blueprint. Spend over $400, and they include an additional free bonus gift.
Over the last few years, the BiOptimizers tribe has grown by leaps and bounds. They’re so confident that you’ll like their magnesium that they offer a full 365-day money-back guarantee.
Though they cost more than most products, remember, the most expensive products are the ones that don’t work. This is the best full-spectrum magnesium product available.
Best Threonate-Taurate-Glycinate Combo: Natural Stacks MagTech®
Magnesium Forms: Taurate, l-Threonate, glycinate
Dose: 300mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 90 capsules
Serving Size: 3 capsules
Natural Stacks has sold cutting-edge supplement formulas since 2013. They specialize in brain-boosting nootropics, but have expanded into other facets of human performance optimization. MagTech® is a highly-bioavailable combination (“stack”) of three potent forms of magnesium: Magnesium L-Threonate (100mg of Magtein), Magnesium Taurate (630mg), and Magnesium Glycinate (600mg). All in all, a serving of three capsules provides 200mg of elemental magnesium.
This unique combination merges relaxation and sleep-promoting effects of magnesium glycinate with brain-enhancing magnesium L-threonate and taurate.
Natural Stacks has an “Open Source” transparency program for every batch which allows for the ability to trace ingredients and third-party lab test results. This technology is powered by blockchain and secured by HealthLoq™, ensuring transparent, tamperproof, trusted supplement quality.
Products are produced in a cGMP-Certified facility. Each pill gets encapsulated in a non-GMO, paleo-friendly, vegan, gluten-free vegetable capsule.
In addition to the 4.9-star rating on hundreds of reviews, Natural Stacks offers a 100 percent happiness guarantee. Should you have any qualms, they’ll give you a full refund and let you keep the product within 30 days.
Natural Stack’sMagTech® is the ideal product specializing in optimizing brain function and promoting sleep.
Use the exclusive Natural Stacks promo code URBAN for 15% off.
Best Slow Release: Jigsaw Health MagSRT®
Magnesium Forms: DiMagnesium malate
Dose: 500mg magnesium
Synergistic Ingredients: Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxal-5-phosphate), Folate (as Quatrefolic® 5MTHF), Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin)
Contents: 240 tablets
Serving Size: 4 tablets
Specialty: Extended-release formula
In 2005, Jigsaw Health created a time-release product that uses proprietary Sustained Release Technology to slow the release of Magnesium over 8 hours. This maximizes absorption and avoids digestive discomfort. Since then, they’ve become America’s #1 time-release magnesium trusted by the biggest names in health and wellness, including Wellness Mama, Ben Greenfield, Thomas DeLauer, and dozens of others.
MagSRT® has unique features. First, the formula uses highly absorbable Albion® Labs DiMagnesium Malate. Each serving equates to 500mg of elemental magnesium along with the synergistic active forms of B Vitamin Cofactors (B6, B9, and B12) which further enhances absorption.
Unsurprisingly, their products are manufactured in GMP-Certified facilities and undergo 3rd party label verification. In 2018, they passed the highly-regarded ConsumerLab.com supplement verification. MagSRT is soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and vegan. Should you already take a B vitamin complex, you can get the MagSRT® formula without B-Vitamins as “MagSRT (B-FREE)”.
MagSRT users start feeling a difference within the first week. Backed by a placebo-controlled human clinical trial showing significant improvements. Perhaps it’s the robust third-party verification, or maybe the 90-day money-back guarantee. Either way, they’ve earned a 4.7-star reputation on over 5,482 reviews.
Buy MagRT for the highest-rated clinically validated slow-release magnesium supplement.
Use the exclusive MagSRT coupon code URBAN10 for $10 off.
Life Extension Neuro-Mag Magnesium L-Threonate
Magnesium Forms: L-Threonate
Dose: 144mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 90 capsules
Serving Size: 3 capsules
Specialty: Affordable magnesium L-threonate
I’ve taken Life Extension (LE) products for a decade. LE has a huge catalog of supplements and affordable prices. Though I’m not a fan of their other magnesium products (contains magnesium oxide), Neuro-Mag is one of the trusted vendors of L-threonate.
L-threonate is the magnesium form that best boosts brain performance. Research suggests that it can enhance memory, focus, processing speed, and synaptic connections which accelerates learning.
Due to the low quantity of elemental magnesium, the serving size of L-threonate products is generally around 6 capsules. 3 Neur-Mag capsules contains 2,000mg of Magtein.
Neuro-Mag is non-GMO, produced in the USA, and CoAs are available upon request. I don’t that Life Extension added unnecessary fillers, binders, and excipients (stearic acid, silica, vegetable stearate).
But if you’re looking for a budget-friendly L-threonate supplement, I’d pick Life Extension.
Science Bio Bisglycinate Powder
Magnesium Forms: Bisglycinate
Dose: 200mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 200 grams
Serving Size: 1600mg
Specialty: Great value glycinate powder
When buying a new ingredient, I always check Science Bio first. As I described in my Science Bio review, their quality control is unparalleled. Plus ranging from peptides to SARMS to nootropics to natural ingredients — they carry it all.
Magnesium glycinate goes by many names. Two of which are bisglycinate and diglycinate. This bioavailable form of magnesium is best for relaxation, sleep, stress alleviation, women’s health, and blood sugar management. I take it nightly before bed. Unlike citrate, glycinate does not have a laxative effect.
Science Bio’s facilities are cGMP-Certified, and they go the extra mile to generate a CoA for every raw material in every product batch. Their products are extremely clean, with no additional ingredients, no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no additives. Should you not like the taste (it’s terrible), you can return within their 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you don’t mind the taste, magnesium glycinate powder is the best cost-to-absorption option of all.
Use the exclusive Science Bio coupon code nick10 for 10% off.
Science Bio Malate Powder
Magnesium Forms: Malate
Dose: 500mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 50 grams
Serving Size: 500mg
Specialty: Best malate powder
I’ve bought magnesium dimalate capsules for years due to few manufacturers selling the powder. Doses are generally 3-5 massive pills. The malate powders on Amazon are questionable. Compare the serving size (in one case, 2g) against the magnesium dose (in that case, 400mg). Each serving contains 1,600mg of other ingredients.
Magnesium malate is the ideal source for optimizing energy, immunity, metabolism, respiration, mood, and athletic performance. A perfect morning supplement.
In fact, I’ve heard some people say that they don’t need their coffee after taking mag malate.
Science Bio sells a 50g tub, with 100 servings of 500mg of magnesium each. Nothing else. No fillers, binders, excipients, artificial colors, preservatives, or additives. Produced in a cGMP-Certified facility, and complete with batch-specific CoAs.
If you’re interested in metabolic health and prefer the ability to customize your dose, Science Bio’s Magnesium Malate powder is perfect.
Use the exclusive coupon code nick10 for 10% off.
Source Naturals Magnesium Malate Pills
Magnesium Forms: Malate
Dose: 425mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 360 tablets
Serving Size: 3 tablets
Specialty: Effectiveness to value ratio & travel
When I first discovered the best forms of magnesium, I looked for dimalate. Source Naturals has stood the test of time, selling this exact product since before 2004. Every time I travel I carry this magnesium with me.
This is a chelated form of magnesium, and can readily cross the blood-brain barrier. The malic acid has been shown to bind to aluminum. Magnesium malate does not have the laxative effects of other forms.
Each tablet contains 1,250mg of magnesium malate which is about ~141mg of elemental magnesium. The pills are HUGE. Among the biggest I’ve taken, and one dose takes three.
Again, unfortunately, this product contains inactive ingredients like stearic acid, acacia gum, modified cellulose gum, silica, and magnesium stearate. This is a common issue with large manufacturers. Source Natural products are non-GMO, vegetarian-safe, hypoallergenic, and free of dairy, egg, gluten, corn, soy, wheat, sugar, starch, preservatives, artificial color, flavor, and fragrance.
Note: make sure to get the tablets. There’s another listing with capsules which is a far worse deal.
At about $0.07 per tablet, Source Naturals Magnesium Malate is what I recommend to most people interested in trying magnesium.
Jarrow MagMind L-Threonate
Magnesium Forms: L-threonate
Dose: 144mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 90 capsules
Serving Size: 3 capsules
Specialty: Delivers magnesium to the brain
Jarrow Formulas has become one of the largest supplement manufacturers in the world due to their purity, value, and potency. In 2012, as the research began backing Magnesium l-threonate, they were one of the first to start carrying it.
MagMind uses the popular Magtein® form shown to readily cross the blood-brain barrier and support optimal brain performance. This simple formulation only contains one primary active ingredient — Magtein®. Because of this, Jarrow sells it at a competitive price.
Jarrow’s produces their MagMind in a cGMP-Certified factory. The supplement is non-GMO certified by NSF, vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and shellfish-free. Other ingredients inside the capsules include magnesium stearate (vegetable source), vegetarian capsule (hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, water), cellulose, and silicon dioxide.
I generally prefer Life Extension over MagMind L-threonate except when it’s on sale.
DaVinci Laboratories Tri-Mag
Magnesium Forms: Taurate, glycinate, malate
Dose: 300mg elemental magnesium
Contents: 120 capsules
Serving Size: 4 capsules
Specialty: Cardiovascular support
DaVinci Labs, known for their high-potency liposomal supplement technology, produced the original triple blend of magnesium in 2009.
Tri-Mag contains a 300mg blend of Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Malate. Taurate protects the cardiovascular system, glycinate promotes relaxation and calmness, and malate improves cellular energy generation and supports muscle and nerve function.
Overall, the product is a good balance between the 5-7 type premium magnesium blends, and the cheap single forms of magnesium. One 4 capsule serving contains 300mg of elemental magnesium.
DaVinci produces their Tri-Mag in a GMP-Certified facility, using hypoallergenic ingredients. Every capsule is non-GMO, and free of fillers, binders, and artificial ingredients. Other ingredients include microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable cellulose, vegetarian leucine.
DaVinci Laboratories Tri-Mag nicely balances several optimal magnesium forms with price.
Magnesium Questions & Answers
Possible side-effect symptoms
Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker. Though this is good to block the harms of non-native EMF, it can also interact with certain drugs and medication. While considered extremely safe, magnesium supplementers sometimes report side effects with diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, blood pressure, and social calmness.
Best times to take magnesium
Serum magnesium follows a diurnal rhythm. It is best to take magnesium first thing in the morning (the ideal form is magnesium malate for the additional energy production effects), and in the evening (in the form of either magnesium glycinate, L-threonate, chloride, or sulfate). This helps maximize absorption and best supports the body’s needs.
Benefits of supplementing magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral with a profound impact on your health. Some of the benefits of magnesium include:
- Rapid recovery
- Speeding up wound repair
- Strengthening the immune system
- DNA/RNA repair
- Relaxed alertness
- Energy production
- Building resilience against degenerative stressors
- Accelerating learning
- Enhanced memory
- Boosting mood
- Protecting the heart, adrenals, and brain
- Blunting inflammation
- Weight loss, fat burning, insulin sensitivity
- Optimizing testosterone and thyroid levels
- Acting as an antioxidant
- Sleeping deeper and longer
- Promoting skin health
- Strengthening teeth and bones
For a comprehensive list, see the ultimate guide to magnesium’s health benefits.
Foods High in Magnesium
The foods highest in magnesium include:
- Other greens
The RDA for magnesium was set (and not since updated) decades ago. Since then, factory farming has depleted our soils of nutrients (including magnesium). Cooking and processing further degrade magnesium into a form not readily used by the body. So supplementation is generally still a good idea.
Uses for Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, helping with cramps, hypertension, vasoconstriction (headaches). It’s also a great sleep aid, promotes recovery, increases energy, and enhances the body’s natural resiliency.
It’s used by everyone ranging from professional athletes to kids.
The Top Magnesium Supplements: Final Verdict
Clinical deficiency or not, virtually every modern human lives with sub-optimal magnesium levels.
Without adequate magnesium, you’ll get by but won’t thrive. It’s one of the body’s chief catalysts for recovery, growth, and regeneration.
Like other minerals, it’s highly under-rated.If magnesium were patentable, it would be a billion-dollar product Click To Tweet
Magnesium supplements are cheap, effective, and easy to find.
Though it exerts dozens of benefits on the healthy and sick alike, supplementing magnesium can get complicated.
- Is 7 forms better than 1?
- Which synergistic ingredients should I look for?
- Do I only care about elemental magnesium dose?
Each of the above brands sells potent, high-quality products. I prefer products that contain multiple forms, as they harmonize for greater effects (akin to 1+1=3).
My favorite magnesium products are:
- Best overall: BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough
- Best combo: NaturalStacks MAGTECH®
- Best time release: Jigsaw Health MagSRT
Try any of the above and you’ll understand why magnesium is one of the top health optimization supplements.
Do you take magnesium? Let me know your experience in the comments below!