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Oral Magnesium Supplementation

 Oral Magnesium supplements

NOTE: Oral supplementation may take up to 6 months to see positive results / Transdermal application raises Mg levels in weeks - depending on your condition; many systems, muscles, bone, immune system, nerve system and brain, will begin to change with magnesium supplementation.

What makes a good ORAL magnesium supplement?

We take a Magnesium supplement for its magnesium ions (mg++)

All magnesium supplements are molecules of magnesium ions bonded to a companion substance (called a ligand) - examples include magnesium chloride, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate. To free the magnesium ion (Mg++) for transport through the intestinal wall to the bloodstream, the body needs to be able to break the bond(s) between the magnesium ion and its "companion". The bonds of some supplements are broken more easily than others, which affects the bioavailability of the magnesium in the supplement..

(1) Bioavailability

This subject of Mg bioavailability has been quite challenging! - there are few pertinent human studies (of which, participant numbers are low and many are carried out by manufacturing companies with a bias for their own product; veterinary studies used animals on mineral-deficient diets, which slants results) and there are many factors involved in the body that reduce or encourage the metabolic utilization of a nutrient; also,  I didn't put much stock in the rat or cow studies, since our digestive systems are so different and the variable conditions in our gut are strongly affected by our diet.

A good ORAL magnesium supplement is one that is absorbed effectively through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream / lymph in a form utilizable by the body's cells -  the magnesium ions in a good magnesium supplement molecule must be able to be separated (dissociated) from its companion (ligand). Eg. In magnesium oxide (MgO), the mg++ ion must be separated from its oxygen ion

-    However, it may be better to have an oral supplement that doesn't separate/dissociate too easily - A supplement that dissociates whilst in the stomach may meet and bond with drugs or phytates, oxalates, phosphorus, carbs, fats or amino acids in food. Phytates bind strongly to magnesium (also calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, chromium and manganese) making it much harder or impossible to separate the magnesium ion for absorption. The main benefit of the medium strength bonds of such as amino acid chelated magnesium, seems to be in preventing magnesium making stronger bonds with other binding agents, such as phytates, but still having weak enough bonds to separate for intestinal absorption further along the GI tract. It is also postulated (as yet no studies) that the chelated magnesium amino acid molecule is absorbed intact.

Note: there is mention that consumed oxalates (in spinach, rhubarb, french fries, bran flakes, nuts) also bind with Mg, but current studies do NOT support their negative effect on magnesium absorption

-   Take mg supplement away from phytic acids in foods - to prevent their almost inseparable binding of the magnesium ion in the intestine, thereby making magnesium unavailable for absorption through the gut wall..

-   Ensure a sufficiency of vitamin D - shown to improve magnesium absorbability; best obtained by taking a daily sunbath.

Vitamin D –The Sunshine Vitamin

 -   Split high daily doses  -100-200 mg at a time work more efficiently; Do not take more than 300-400 mg. of an oral Mg supplement at one time, which may result in diarrhea.

-    Need for sufficient stomach acid - if the magnesium ion is readily separated from its supplement molecule, this can occur in the stomach via hydrochloric acid (HCl); HCl production falls as we age and a betaine HCl supplement may be required to better utilize dietary and/or supplementary magnesium

-    Avoid any factors that cause magnesium loss or reduce its absorption - and there are many:

  Why are we magnesium deficient?

-   Carbohydrates, such as fructose and fermentable carbohydrates (comprised of short-chain sugar molecules) improve mg absorbability - by feeding intestinal bacteria; Eg. bananas, plums,

-   Take mg supplement with a meal, but not one containing phytate (see above) - the supplement molecule needs the stomach acid to help separate the magnesium from its companion, and eating food stimulates stomach acid production. HCl production tends to decrease with age and since the break down of the molecule is key to effective digestion, it may be necessary to take a betaine hydrochloric acid supplement;

-   Avoid drugs/antacids that reduce stomach acid or prevent stomach acid production - these otherwise impair your ability to digest and absorb any nutrient, including magnesium

-   Don't use enteric-coated (time-release) tablets - studies have shown time-release tablets are less absorbed than immediate release supplements, The tablet must be able to disintegrate / dissolve in time for effective absorption in the intestines

Fine KD, Santa Ana CA, Porter JL, Fordtran JS. Intestinal absorption of magnesium from food and supplements. J Clin Invest 1991;88:396-402.

Ricketts CD. Iron bioavailability from controlled-release and conventional iron supplements. J Appl Nutr 1993;45:13-19.

Rudinskas L, Paton TW, Walker SE. Poor clinical response to enteric-coated iron preparations. Can Med Assoc J 1989;141:565-6.

Walker SE, Paton TW, Cowan DH, et al. Bioavailability of iron in oral ferrous sulfate preparations in healthy volunteers. Can Med Assoc J 1989;141:543-7.

-   Magnesium supplement must be soluble - to be able to release its elemental magnesium content

(2) Percentage of magnesium in the supplement molecule

DIfferent magnesium supplements contain different amounts elemental magnesium in their molecules - E.g. magnesium oxide is 59% elemental magnesium; magnesium citrate is 16%, magnesium orotate is 6.2%, magnesium gluconate is 5.5%;

However, the bioavailabilty of each form can be very different - and has to be taken into consideration;

(3) Is there any benefit or harm from the Magnesium "companion" Substance?

(4) Cost

Magnesium Glutamate and Aspartate may be neurotoxic

Aspartate and glutamate are excitatory neurotransmitters (i.e.brain chemicals that stimulate neurons to fire) - At high doses (consumed either independently or in excess of other protein–containing foods. E.g., as components of food additives or nutritional supplements like magnesium aspartate), they can potentially stimulate neurons to the point of injury or death, called excitotoxicity. In animal studies, neuroscientists found that aspartic acid loads on the same brain receptors as glutamic acid, to cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders as glutamic acid, and to act in an additive fashion with glutamic acid.(Similar brain-receptor “overload”results from consuming mono sodium glutamate and the artificial sweetener aspartame, which contains aspartate)

Aspartame –Excitoxin

MSG –And other forms of neurotoxic free glutamic acid

–   Brain damage in mice from voluntary ingestion of glutamate and aspartate - When glutamate and aspartate were added to the water of laboratory mice, the mice voluntarily ingested enough of these substances to cause brain (hypothalamic) damage

–    Aspartame (containing asparate) exacerbates EEG spike–wave discharge in children with generalized absence epilepsy: a double–blind controlled study

–    Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins.

–    Adverse reactions to aspartame: double–blind challenge in patients from those with depression and mood disorders -“Although the protocol required the recruitment of 40 patients with unipolar depression and a similar number of individuals without a psychiatric history, the project was halted by the Institutional Review Board after a total of 13 individuals had completed the study because of the severity of reactions within the group of patients with a history of depression.”

–   Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment.

 Magnesium asparate worsened depression symptoms, in contrast, magnesium glycinate and taurinate forms markedly benefited depressive symptoms

Quote from study:

“Magnesium glutamate and magnesium aspartate greatly worsened the 59–year old man's depression. . .These magnesium compounds should be considered as neurotoxic to depressives, and perhaps all people, and should not be used during treatment of depression, anxiety or similar hyperemotional disorders.”

 The blood brain barrier (BBB) only partially protects the brain against neurotoxicity - the BBB is a selective filter, which regulates the level of excitatory amino acids in the brain to a degree. However, some structures of the brain, and in particular the hypothalamus, which is involved in regulating appetite, emotions, energy levels, and hormonal balance, are not protected by the BBB. It is ironic that those who most need Mg to counter neuronal excitation, suffering from such as migraines, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, epileptics, should then suffer neuronal damage from the chelate part of the Mg supplement:

Main recommendations for an ORAL magnesium supplement

Prefer Transdermal Magnesium Chloride :) - not as conveniient as an oral supplement, but fast acting and very boioavailable;

Currently updating this section after continuing extensive research into the subject of what is the best form of magnesium for oral use; getting close with my conclusions :)



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