Pharmacist Blog: Magnesium

Have you ever walked through the aisles of a drugstore and wondered why there were so many types of magnesium? The vast selection and product labeling can be overwhelming, leaving you in a state of confusion. Each type of magnesium is absorbed by the body differently or has other components that contribute to its effects on certain body systems, so deciding which product is best for your needs is something your pharmacist can help with! Let’s start with what magnesium is and what it does in the body.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral that is absorbed through diet or supplementation and plays a role in many important body functions including protein synthesis, bone development, muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and blood sugar control. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, numbness, tingling, and muscle cramps. As we age, our levels decrease due to less dietary intake, less absorption from the gut, and more excretion from the kidneys. Also, certain medications (proton pump inhibitors, oral contraceptives, diuretics) and disease states (diabetes, Crohn’s disease, alcohol dependence) have been shown to increase the risk of developing low magnesium (hypomagnesemia). Supplementation may be beneficial for older adults or for those included in the aforementioned at-risk groups. Now let’s discuss some of the most widely available over-the-counter magnesium choices.

Magnesium Citrate & Magnesium Oxide

One of the most well-absorbed types of magnesium is magnesium citrate. If you have hypomagnesemia AND constipation, this may be a good supplement for you, as depending on the dose, magnesium citrate can cause loose stools. Magnesium oxide is another common formulation, but unlike magnesium citrate, it has poor absorption in the body and will do little to raise magnesium levels. You may want to steer clear of this formulation if that is your intended purpose; however, magnesium oxide will help lower acidity in the stomach, which makes it a decent antacid for indigestion. Magnesium oxide also carries the risk of diarrhea.

Magnesium Glycinate & Beyond

Another formulation that has both good absorption and a lower risk for diarrhea is magnesium glycinate. This form can help with relaxation, muscle cramps, anxiety, stress, and sleep. It can also support blood pressure management and blood sugar management. In general, this would be my “go-to” recommendation for magnesium supplementation. Magnesium also comes in a variety of topical formulations, including magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) and magnesium chloride. These products are usually marketed for relieving sore muscles, muscle and nerve pain, and inflammation, and may be a good choice for those who cannot tolerate oral magnesium.

Choosing a magnesium supplement can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. At Oswald’s, we carry a myriad of magnesium supplements, including topical products and an oral 3-in-1 magnesium product by Ortho Molecular. Come by today so we can discuss your magnesium needs.