Magnesium is the most widely used dietary supplement among athletes.
And it means a lot if especially those who deliberately push their physical limits, supplement extra magnesium.
Are you training for a marathon and eating 20 bananas a day? Here, too, it's all about the magnesium content of the fruit. Additionally so, because we know that magnesium deficiency can cause cramps.
But magnesium does much more that can affect your ability to cope with strain.
In a nutshell - What does magnesium do for you?
- balance the electrolyte balance
- reduce tiredness and fatigue
- regulate energy metabolism
- support your nervous system
- keep your psyche in balance
- maintain healthy bones and teeth
Not all magnesium forms are created equal?
If you are about to order your summer dose of the mineral (sweating increases the loss of minerals, by the way), you will immediately notice that there is a very untransparent discussion about different types of magnesium.
Which one is absorbed best, is the most tolerable, is the most bioactive, the most elementary...?
This is not a trivial subject. In the meantime, magnesium oil, which is absorbed through the skin, has become an "insider tip" for all those who no longer trust oral magnesium.
The answer is sobering. Researchers came to varying conclusions and the general consensus is: There is no significant difference between the forms of magnesium. At least not in the biological sense.
Organic or inorganic, is that the question?
All types of magnesium are compounds of magnesium and an inorganic or organic anion. Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate are particularly well known. All these forms are called magnesium salts.
They each contain a different proportion of magnesium (compared to the proportion of the counter-ion) in the compound. They also differ in solubility and uptake speed.
In general, there are various factors to consider:
How high is the proportion of elemental magnesium in the compound?
How water soluble is the compound?
How quickly is the compound absorbed? Is it easily gut tolerable? How much magnesium ultimately arrives in the blood?
The discussion is non-transparent because all magnesium salts contain the same magnesium. No matter which one you take, it’s always the same mineral arriving in your blood. However, the bound molecules can contribute to how magnesium is absorbed.
Common problems with magnesium
- Amount of elementary magnesium:
The often unpopular magnesium oxide contains 60% of elemental magnesium and 40% of oxide. Magnesium citrate contains only 11% of magnesium, since citrate is a rather complex organic molecule.
- Taking it at high doses:
If magnesium+X is absorbed in high quantities and is not easily water-soluble, this can have a frequent side effect: Diarrhea. Magnesium is simply washed out because it remains in the intestine for a long time, drawing water. For this reason, it is often recommended to take it in small doses several times a day.
Since the absorption in the intestine is passive, it takes place via a channel in the intestinal wall. The daily intake capacity is thus quickly saturated. So if large amounts have been taken, the absorption rate drops dramatically. Even organic forms above the saturation concentration remain in the intestine and are washed out.
In a test, high and low doses of magnesium were compared in comparison to their intake. Example: With 10 equivalents of magnesium, 65% were absorbed, when 80 equivalents were taken, the absorption was only 11% (measured with magnesium acetate).
- The velocity of the uptake:
Shechter et al also showed in 2012 that although citrate is absorbed more quickly than oxide. However, the oxide was able to replenish the magnesium stores more sustainably in this study.
So which magnesium is recommended?
Many studies have shown no difference between the forms with regard to their bioavailability. In addition, tolerance is usually very individual and different from person to person.
Coudray et al, in an animal model study, found that the magnesium forms magnesium oxide, -sulfate, -chloride, -carbonate, -acetate, -citrate, -lactate and -aspartate did not show significant differences in absorption.
The good properties of magnesium on the body apply to all magnesium salts. In all cases, elemental magnesium arrives in the bloodstream and works its miracles. The only question is how quickly, how well tolerated and at what price do you want magnesium in your cells?
The answer is highly individual and unfortunately still demands your own testing of the possibilities.
You can find out more about liposomal transport and delivery of magnesium on the page "The Revolution".
 Kenneth D. Fine, Carol A. Santa Ana, Jack L. Porter, and John S. Fordtran, (1991), Intestinal Absorption of Magnesium from Food and Supplements, Department of Internal Medicine, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75246
2] See 2.
3] Shechter, M. Comparison of magnesium status using X-ray dispersion analysis following magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate treatment of healthy subjects. Magnes Res. 2012 Mar 1;25(1):28-39. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2012.0305.