Magnesium is a critical element for the human body, required in over 300 bodily processes; (1) unfortunately, intake for around half of Americans does not include enough Magnesium. (2) Recent research shows that Magnesium deficiency may be a leading driver in chronic diseases. (3) For these reasons, Magnesium supplementation may be necessary for most people, and it’s foolhardy to think you’re the exception. Out of the various Magnesium supplements in the market, Thorne’s Magnesium CitraMate is our top choice due to its edge over the competition through the use of superior ingredients and top-notch quality control.
Our Pick : Thorne Magnesium CitraMate
Thorne won us over with their dedication to quality control with the Thorne Magnesium CitraMate requiring testing at 4 different stages of the manufacturing cycle. This gives us confidence that the supplement is pure, free from heavy metals and contains exactly the amount of Magnesium in a capsule as is mentioned on the label.
Furthermore, they also use the two best forms of Magnesium in their supplement, a blend of Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Malate. This serves as the perfect combination, because it has high absorption with little to no side-effects, unlike some other forms of Magnesium commonly found in supplements.
Benefits Of Magnesium
As previously mentioned, Magnesium is involved in more than 300 chemical processes in the human body. (4)
It is crucial for brain health, muscular development, repairing DNA and healthy sleep.
Furthermore, it also prevents chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease.
Let’s take a look at these one by one.
Magnesium And Sleep
One of the most important, yet indirect, ways that Magnesium keeps us healthy is by increasing the quantity and quality of our sleep.
In fact, insomnia or prolonged sleep deficiency can cause chronic illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke. (7)
Magnesium increases sleep quality in a few different ways.
First, Magnesium reduces physical and mental stress. (8) This helps you calm down and relax.
| Study 1) 46 elderly people were divided into two groups. For 8 weeks, the first group was given Magnesium and the second group was given a placebo. |
Compared to the placebo group, the Magnesium group had significantly better sleep quality and quantity and also fell asleep at quicker rates; in addition, the Magnesium group also had higher levels of melatonin and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). (13)
Study 2) 43 people with insomnia were divided into two groups. The first group was given Magnesium, Zinc and Melatonin, and the second group was given a placebo.
The Magnesium group had significantly better sleep quality, higher alertness the following day, longer sleep duration and an easier time falling asleep compared to the placebo group. (14)
Maintains Healthy Brain Function
Among other things, this is because of Magnesium’s ability to activate the neurotransmitter GABA, which calms the mind down. A calmer mind is less prone to overthinking and neurotic behavior.
However, the exact mechanism by why Magnesium performs so well against depression is still currently not understood.
| Study 1) In a study lasting 12 weeks, 23 magnesium deficient, elderly patients with type 2 diabetes were divided into 2 groups. The first group was given 450mg of Magnesium and the other was given 50mg of the antidepressant, Imipramine. |
After 12 weeks, it was found that the Magnesium reduced symptoms of depression just as much as the antidepressant. (18)
Study 2) 126 adults with mild to moderate depression were given 248mg of Magnesium. Out of the 126, 112 people managed to complete the trial.
At the end of the 6 weeks of Magnesium treatment, all 112 people had significant improvements in their depression and anxiety. (19)
Study 3) By using the data on 8,894 US individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a relationship between low Magnesium intake and depression was identified.
After excluding other factors that might influence the results, it was found that people with low Magnesium intake had significantly higher instances of depression. (20)
Allows The Body To Use Vitamin D
There are many nutrients whose absorption and activation depends on the availability of other nutrients. Vitamin D is a prime example.
This means that, when someone has low Magnesium, not only do they suffer from Magnesium deficiency, but they also suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to contribute towards chronic diseases and early death. (23)
The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include:
- Getting sick easily
- Tiredness, fatigue and lack of energy
- Pain in bones, back and joints
- Hair loss
- Hormonal imbalances
It is a fact that Vitamin D and Magnesium are two of the most common deficiencies in the developed world because of our modern day diet and lifestyle.
Supplementation of both these nutrients is highly recommended.
Supports Optimal Testosterone Production In Men
Magnesium increases testosterone levels in 3 ways.
As we’ve already mentioned, Magnesium activates Vitamin D and allows the body to use it. Vitamin D is essential to normal testosterone production in men.
The second way that Magnesium increases testosterone is through its interaction with a protein present in our bodies called SHBG. The problem with SHBG is that it traps testosterone, making it unavailable for the body to use.
Magnesium stops SHBG from entrapping testosterone, thereby increasing the bioavailable amount of testosterone in a man’s body. (26)
Finally, Magnesium has positive effects on sleep quality and quantity. Clinical studies indicate that men produce most of their testosterone in their sleep.
In fact, testosterone levels dip by a staggering 15% only after a week of sleep deprivation. (27)
| Study 1) This study took two different groups of men and gave them Magnesium supplementation. The first group were all athletes and the second were inactive people. |
After 4 weeks of supplementation, both total testosterone and free testosterone significantly increased in both groups. The increase was higher in the athletes. (28)
Study 2) 399 elderly men over 65 years of age were given Magnesium. At the end of the study, it was observed that testosterone levels significantly increased in all men.
Along with testosterone, IFG-1 levels also increased. IFG-1 is another hormone responsible for building and maintaining muscle. (29)
Improves Exercise Performance And Muscle Strength
Magnesium is essential to exercise performance and muscle strength.
This is because Magnesium improves oxygen uptake, energy production and muscle health. (30)
In fact, if Magnesium levels are low, then Potassium levels remain depleted even after Potassium supplementation. (33)
| Study 1) 53 male patients were divided into 2 groups. One group was given Magnesium and the other was given a placebo over 6 months. |
At the end of the trial, the Magnesium group had significantly higher VO2 Max compared to the placebo group. VO2 max is the rate at which an individual’s muscles can use oxygen. It is a very good measure of maximum exercise capacity. (38)
Study 2) 124 healthy women were divided into a Magnesium and a placebo. At the end of 12 weeks, both groups were subjected to the SPPB test. The SPPB test is used to evaluate a person’s lower body strength.
Both the Magnesium and the placebo group had the same average SPPB scores at the beginning of the trial. However, after only 12 weeks, the Magnesium group performed significantly better than before. There were no changes in how the placebo group performed. (39)
Study 3) 23 competitive triathletes of swimming, cycling and running were divided into a Magnesium and a placebo group. All the athletes were asked to complete a 500m swim, 20km bicycle race and a 5km run without break, both before and after the trial ended.
After 4 weeks, the Magnesium group significantly increased their swimming, racing and running speeds compared to the placebo group. The Magnesium group also had significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (40)
Protects Against Type 2 Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
Type 2 diabetes is caused by Insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone responsible for clearing out sugar in the blood. When insulin resistance happens, insulin stops working and blood sugar levels rise.
High blood sugar severely damages nerves and blood vessels, and increases the likelihood of strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure.
Magnesium plays an essential role in allowing insulin to do its job. Your cells have insulin receptors that require Magnesium to absorb sugar from your blood.
So, it comes as no surprise that up to 48% of people with type 2 diabetes are Magnesium deficient. (41)
Likewise, a massive study that followed 4,497 Americans over 20 years concluded that people who consumed the least Magnesium were 53% more likely to develop Diabetes. (42)
| Study 1) This review combined the results of 9 different studies on Magnesium and type 2 diabetes. A total of 370 people with type 2 diabetes were given 360mg of Magnesium every day for 4-16 weeks. |
After an average duration of 12 weeks of Magnesium supplementation, blood sugar levels decreased across the board; in addition, levels of the good cholesterol, HDL, increased significantly. (43)
Study 2) 54 people with type 2 diabetes were either given a placebo or 300mg of Magnesium over 3 months. Blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol were measured at the beginning and at the end of the study.
After 3 months, the Magnesium group had significantly lower blood sugar and blood pressure than the placebo group. Their cholesterol numbers also improved significantly. (44)
Improves Heart Health & Reduces Inflammation
Adequate intake of Magnesium is associated with a longer life. This is because, along with keeping blood sugar under control, Magnesium also protects against heart disease.
On the other hand, lower levels of Magnesium have been linked to earlier deaths from all causes, especially those at the hands of heart disease. (47)
The other way that Magnesium protects against heart disease is by reducing inflammation in the body.
| Study 1) In a massive review of 40 different studies, involving more than a million people, the effect of increasing Magnesium intake was analyzed. |
Over the course of 30 years, the data from these 40 studies showed that increasing Magnesium intake was associated with a 22% reduced risk of heart failure and a 7% reduced risk of strokes. (55)
Study 2) A total of 68 people with heart disease, lasting more than 6 months, were divided into a placebo a Magnesium group. Various heart health tests were carried out both at the beginning and at the end of study.
After intravenous Magnesium supplementation, the Magnesium group showed significant improvement in their heart health. The study concluded that Magnesium supplementation is an effective way of reducing and even stopping irregular heartbeats. (56)
Study 3) A total of 62 men and women, between the ages of 18-65, were given Magnesium or a placebo over 3 months. CRP levels for all patients were recorded at the beginning of the trial. CRP is one of the leading markers for inflammation.
At the beginning of the trial, CRP levels were found to be similarly distributed between both groups; however, at the end of the 3 months, the Magnesium group had significantly lower CRP levels compared to the placebo group. (57)
Lowers Blood Pressure
In a national survey, it was found that 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. (58)
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is bad for many reasons. With prolonged hypertension, blood vessels weaken, start leaking and may eventually rupture.
Damaged blood vessels in turn can cause all sorts of problems like heart attacks, strokes, internal bleeding and kidney failure.
This is why it is extremely important to manage and reverse high blood pressure through lifestyle factors, such as diet and nutrition.
One of the most effective ways you can lower your blood pressure is through increasing your Magnesium intake. (59)
Many studies have found that Magnesium supplementation decreases blood pressure, even when other lifestyle factors remain the same. This decrease is more obvious in people who already have high blood pressure. (60) (61)
| Study 1) This review analyzed 22 studies that looked at how Magnesium effected the blood pressure of people with hypertension over 3-24 weeks. |
When the data for all these studies was compiled, it showed that Magnesium did indeed reduce blood pressure in these individuals. In fact, it showed that the reduction was greater in proportion to the amount of Magnesium ingested.
In other words, the higher the Magnesium intake, the greater the reduction in blood pressure. (62)
Study 2) This was another review of 34 different studies involving 2,028 participants. An average of 368mg of Magnesium supplementation was given to the participants every day.
After an average duration of 3 months, the blood pressure of the participants reduced significantly across the board. (63)
Prevents & Treats Migraines
12% of the US population suffers from migraines. Migraine headaches can be crippling and paralyzing. They can cause nausea, vomiting, extreme pain and light sensitivity.
Fortunately, increasing Magnesium intake is a simple and scientifically proven way of preventing migraine headaches. (64)
| Study 1) 70 people with migraine headaches severe enough to visit the emergency department were divided into two groups. The first group was given Magnesium and the second group was given a common migraine medication. |
At the beginning fo the trial, both groups reported the same severity of pain. Pain symptoms were recorded after 20 minutes, 1 hour and 2 hour intervals after treatment.
Not only was the Magnesium more effective at reducing pain, it also outperformed the migraine medication by being quicker to act. (68)
Study 2) In a review of all the studies done on migraines and Magnesium supplementation between 1990 to 2016, five clinical trials fulfilled the strict selection criteria.
The review found that Magnesium is both safe and effective in treating migraine headaches. (69)
Do You Have A Magnesium Deficiency?
According to a survey conducted by the US department of Agriculture, (70) almost half (48%) of the American population does not consume enough Magnesium.
This is because the typical American diet lacks the kind of foods that are rich in Magnesium, i.e. vegetables and nuts.
On top of that, the typical American diet is rich in grains, especially refined grains like bread, wheat, rice and flour. Grains contain Phytate or Phytic acid. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that reduces the absorption of Magnesium by up to 60%. (71)
This means that along with consuming less Magnesium than we should, the little Magnesium we do eat is passed on without being absorbed.
People with the following diseases or disorders are even more prone to Magnesium deficiency:
- Celiac Disease (72)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s Disease. (73)
- Short Bowel Syndrome (74)
- Type 2 Diabetes due to increase loss of Magnesium in the urine (75)
- Alcohol dependence (76)
Old people are also especially prone to Magnesium deficiency. (77)
Lastly, athletes lose up to 20% more Magnesium than inactive people because they lose Magnesium in their sweat. (78)
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms
Without adequate levels of Magnesium, the human body starts falling apart.
Symptoms depend on the severity of Magnesium deficiency, as well as how long the condition has gone untreated.
Early Magnesium deficiency symptoms are:
- Poor sleep
- Depression, mental disorders
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Low testosterone
When Magnesium deficiency gets prolonged and severe:
- Frequent muscle twitches and cramps
- Abnormal/irregular heart rhythm
- Heart disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Osteoporosis (Weak Bones)
- Severe personality changes
- Type 2 diabetes
RDA Magnesium (Recommended Daily Allowance)
This is the RDA for Magnesium according to the Institute Of Medicine and the Food and Nutrition Board: (79)
|Birth to 6 months||30mg||30mg|
What Is The Best Form Of Magnesium?
There are many different forms of Magnesium supplements, some better than others.
It is the cheapest form of Magnesium supplementation; unfortunately, it is also the worst. The body can only absorb 4% of this form of Magnesium. (80)
This form is also poorly absorbed by the body and should be avoided.
It has laxative properties so you may find yourself going to the toilet more often.
This form is well absorbed by the body and easy on the stomach, though the Glycine found in Magnesium Glycinate can have unpredictable effects.
Although most people report enhanced feelings of calmness, some report chronic wakefulness.
This is because Glycine is neurotransmitter; as such, its effects on the brain are complex and vary from individual to individual, so caution should be exercised.
It is the most expensive form of Magnesium.
This form is well absorbed by the body and also seems to have energy-boosting properties.
Magnesium Malate has a relatively small amount of elemental Magnesium; 1,250mg of Magnesium Malate will deliver only about 140mg of actual Magnesium (the rest is Malate).
This makes Magnesium Malate capsules very large and inconvenient to swallow.
This form is easily absorbed by the body.. Aspartate/Aspartic Acid causes Excitotoxicity, which causes overstimulation in the brain and nerve damage/death.
It can also cause headaches, sleep disorders and seizures. (83)
Magnesium L Threonate:
Magnesium L Threonate is the only form of Magnesium supplementation that can cross the blood-brain barrier, which means that it is directly absorbed into the brain.
It seems to have positive neurocognitive effects on memory, learning and anxiety. (84)
However, more research is required to understand the long-term effects of this form. Caution must be exercised with anything that can have a direct impact on the brain.
Due to their high absorption and low side-effect potential, Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Malate are the two best forms of Magnesium in supplements.
Our Pick : Thorne Magnesium CitraMate
Top-notch Quality Control & Product Purity
Thorne Research perform quality control checks at 4 different stages of the manufacturing process, starting from when the supplement is in its raw ingredient form and ending all the way up to the final product.
They comply with the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), set up by both the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.
What this means for you, as the end user, is that you can take this supplement for the rest of your life if you wanted without ever having to worry about heavy metal contamination, label inaccuracies or the inadequate quality of ingredients.
Contains The Best Form of Magnesium
Thorne’s Magnesium CitraMate takes the two best forms of Magnesium and blends them into one capsule.
It is 60% Magnesium Malate and 40% Magnesium Citrate.
Magnesium Malate is also very easily absorbed (87) with the added benefit of energy boosting properties.
What really sets Magnesium Malate apart from other forms is the fact that it has little to no side-effects.
The only reason we don’t recommend 100% Magnesium Malate is because a Magnesium Malate capsule is much larger than any other form of Magnesium, making it highly uncomfortable to swallow.
By combining Magnesium Malate with Magnesium Citrate, Thorne has maximized convenience and effectiveness, while minimizing the common side-effects of Magnesium.
Does Not Contain Magnesium Stearate
Almost all Magnesium supplements, with the exception of Thorne and Pure Encapsulations, contain Magnesium Stearate.
Its purpose is to stop ingredients from sticking to industry equipment.
Although Magnesium Stearate is very common in all sorts of supplements, it has recently become the focal point of a lot of heated debates, with some people claiming that it is a toxin and others claiming that it is a harmless ingredient.
One of the reasons for this disagreement is the lack of research that’s gone into Magnesium Stearate.
What is true is that Magnesium Stearate can cause a very severe allergic reaction.
To be on the safe side, we recommend avoiding this ingredient altogether. While there is a possibility that it may be completely safe for most people, it’s better to remain cautious and go for supplements that do not contain this ingredient, whenever possible.
Disclose the exact percentage of Malate and Citrate
The only real contenders for our recommendation for the best Magnesium supplement were Pure Encapsulations and Thorne Research. Both these brands make a Magnesium Malate + Citrate blend.
However, Thorne takes the cake, because, unlike Pure Encapsulations, they disclose the exact ratio of Magnesium Malate to Citrate.
|Allergic Reactions||Free from GMOs, Gluten, Nuts, Dairy, Soy, Egg, Wheat, Barely, Rye, preservatives, artificial colors, flavour and sweeteners. Contains corn products. Microcrystaline cellulose is sourced from corn products so do not consume if you are allergic to corn.|
|Vegan||100 % Vegan.|
|Absorption||Very easily absorbed. Avoid taking this supplement with grains like wheat, rice, flour or bread because these foods can reduce Magnesium absorption.|
All Magnesium supplements, including this one, can interact with antibiotics, diuretics, Bisphosphonates, muscle relaxants and blood pressure pills.
If you’re taking any of these medications, then consult your doctor before starting Magnesium supplementation.
As for antibiotics, you can safely take this supplement once your antibiotic course is over.
Take 2 capsules every day, at different times, to get 270mg of Magnesium. By dividing your dose into two different times, you minimize the chances of experiencing any side-effect.
2 capsules per day is enough for most people since they can get the remaining Magnesium from their food.
However, if you’re severely Magnesium deficient or do not eat foods rich in Magnesium, you can also take 3 capsules every day at 3 different times.
Try not to take this supplement with grains such as wheat, rice, flour or bread, because the phytic acid in these foods can decrease Magnesium absorption. (88)
A good time to take Magnesium is with protein rich foods like chicken or red meat to maximize absorption.
Magnesium is most effective when taken in synergy with Vitamin D.
Magnesium Rich Foods
The most Magnesium rich foods are vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and fruits. Whole grains also have a lot of Magnesium; however, the phytic acid in grains interferes with Magnesium absorption. (89)
We’ve gone through the USDA food composition database to give you the estimated amount of Magnesium present in various foods: (90)
|Food||Weight (g)||Measure||Magnesium (mg)|
|Spinach (cooked & boiled)||180||1 cup||157|
|Brazil nuts (Without Skin)||133||1 cup||500|
|Sesame Seeds||144||1 cup||505|
|Black Beans||194||1 cup||332|
|Kidney Beans||184||1 cup||294|
|White Beans||202||1 cup||384|
Magnesium, taken in the right doses, has minimal side-effects.
In fact, the only observed side-effect of normal doses of Magnesium are stomach issues. This is mostly limited to mild diarrhea, which settles once the body gets used to the increased Magnesium intake.
In rare cases, nausea and vomiting may occur. (91) This usually happens when someone takes too much Magnesium at one time.
The best way to reduce the side-effects from Magnesium supplements is by choosing the right form of Magnesium, and then taking only one capsule at a time, 2-3 times a day.
Interactions With Medicines
There are several types of medications that interact with Magnesium. If you’re taking any of these medications, consult your doctor before starting Magnesium supplementation.
Some antibiotics affect muscles, and Magnesium also has significant effects on muscles; furthermore, Magnesium can also lower the absorption of certain Antibiotics.
It’s best to discontinue Magnesium supplementation during an Antibiotic course.
Also called “water pills”, diuretics can reduce the amount of Magnesium excreted in the urine. This may cause a buildup of Magnesium in the body. This is commonly found in potassium-sparring diuretics.
Other forms of water pills have an opposite effect. They increase the amount of Magnesium lost in the urine, which may cause a Magnesium deficiency. This usually occurs with thiazide diuretics and loop diuretics.
Consult your doctor if you’re not sure about what kind of diuretic you’re taking.
This is used to treat diseases that weaken the bones, such as Osteoporosis. Magnesium can decrease the absorption of these medicines.
Consult your doctor about taking Magnesium if you’re on Bisphosphonates.
Magnesium relaxes muscles, so taking too much of it along with muscle relaxants may cause drowsiness, fatigue, weakness and dizziness.
Blood pressure pills:
Magnesium has been shown to be very effective at lowering blood pressure. Taking Magnesium along with blood pressure medicine might cause the blood pressure to go too low.
Consult your doctor.
As necessary as Magnesium is, there is a such a thing as taking too much Magnesium.
In healthy individuals, taking more Magnesium than the recommended daily allowance is not a problem because our kidneys are very good at flushing out excess Magnesium.
However, extremely high doses, of more than 5,000mg/day, can cause Magnesium toxicity.
The symptoms of severe Magnesium toxicity include:
- Excessive nausea and vomiting
- Slow heart rate
- Dangerously low blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Irregular heartbeat
Having said that, Magnesium toxicity is extremely rare. Outside of Magnesium toxicity, all the research shows that Magnesium, whether taken through food or supplements, is extremely safe.