Magnesium Side Effects: What to Look for When Taking a Supplement

by | Read time: 5 minutes

Magnesium is a mineral found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, greens, beans and even dark chocolate. It’s also taken as a supplement, and for good reason. Not only is magnesium essential for health, but it’s also a mineral many people struggle to get enough of. If you are considering a magnesium supplement, or perhaps you’re taking one and are concerned about magnesium side effects that you may be experiencing, it’s wise to learn about the best forms to take and why.

Woman Pondering Magnesium Side Effects While Pouring Supplement Capsules Into Hand

Why take a magnesium supplement?

Magnesium is a vital mineral — the fourth most common in the human body — and is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions while also playing a part in protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and more. It’s also required for energy production and contributes to the structural development of bone. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium “also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm.”

Low magnesium levels are known to leave some people feeling tired and weak and can lead to muscle cramps, irritability, restless legs and mood changes. Research shows that between 56% and 68% of Americans don’t consume the recommended amounts of magnesium from food and beverages on a daily basis. Researchers believe this is due to people eating more nutrient-poor processed food, including refined grains, cooking and boiling foods too much, certain medications, pesticides and alcohol consumption, among other reasons. As well, aging can reduce your ability to absorb magnesium from food by up to 30%, which is why people over 70 are likelier to be magnesium deficient.

Magnesium side effects

Adding supplements to your healthy diet might not always help the way you’d hoped. Magnesium supplements may come with some side effects, namely gastrointestinal-related issues that are less than pleasant. What’s more, supplements can be challenging for your body to absorb and use appropriately in some forms. Some common magnesium side effects include:

  • Loose bowel movements or diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Facial flushing

What to look for in a magnesium supplement

Not all magnesium supplements are the same, especially when it comes to magnesium side effects. Some forms of magnesium are much more absorbable than others, making them easier on your digestive system and less likely to be wasted through bathroom trips.

Most magnesium supplements contain one of the two sources of elemental magnesium, which are inorganic or organic magnesium salts. Inorganic salts like magnesium oxide have minimal bioavailability because they aren’t very soluble. Organic sources of magnesium, like magnesium citrate, have much higher solubility but don’t provide much elemental magnesium.

Organic salts of magnesium are best

Studies show that organic salts of magnesium have higher bioavailability rates than inorganic salts, so looking for magnesium supplements made from organic salts is likely best. These include:

  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Magnesium citrate
  • Magnesium ascorbate
  • Magnesium aspartate
  • Magnesium gluconate
  • Magnesium lactate

The superiority of magnesium glycinate

Of these, the most absorbable form is magnesium glycinate, which also tends to produce fewer adverse side effects like stomach cramps and nausea. What makes magnesium glycinate an ideal form is its stability and high bioavailability as a chelate mineral complex.

It is absorbed differently in the body through a particular channel (dipeptide channel) in the intestine. This means magnesium glycinate does not compete with other ionic metals being absorbed in the small intestine, so the magnesium is protected from certain compounds that can bind and flush it away. For instance, phytates, tannins, roughage and phosphates enter your intestine from foods you eat, such as greens, tea, dairy, beans, nuts and grains.

Moreover, magnesium glycinate doesn’t get in the way of other ionic elements you need for optimal nutrition and is much less likely to cause digestive distress or toxicity from taking too much. In other words, it is a much more tolerable form for most people.

Look for liposomal delivery

One more factor to consider when it comes to minimizing magnesium side effects and improving bioavailability is supplements that offer liposomal delivery. Liposomal delivery utilizes liposomes, which are fat-soluble structures inside and outside of cells. These structures are encased in a lipid (fat) bilayer that supports cellular membrane function and structure and doesn’t dissolve in water.

When liposomes are used to encapsulate supplement ingredients like magnesium, it improves transport to areas in the body that are the most optimal for absorption. This means that the supplement you are taking becomes more bioavailable and can be used correctly in the body, making them more effective. Unsurprisingly, magnesium is one mineral that benefits significantly from liposomal delivery.

Magnesium supplements can fill nutrition gaps—but choose carefully for best results

If you manage to get all of your magnesium needs from healthful foods and don’t have any absorption issues, then you will likely not need magnesium supplements. But if you’re like over half of the population, you may not be getting enough. If you are concerned about this, speak to your healthcare provider, who can help you find ways to improve your nutritional status, test your magnesium levels, and let you know if a supplement is right for you.

If you have the go-ahead to take a supplement, choosing one such as Codeage’s Liposomal Magnesium Glycinate is an excellent choice that may be less irritating to your digestive tract, limiting potential common side effects that can come with magnesium supplements and improving absorption and effectiveness.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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