What Type of Magnesium Do I Need? A Quick Guide to Forms and Types

  • By Rebecca Kesner
  • 8 minute read
Multiple types of magnesium pills in different shapes and against a pink background. Suggesting the question of What Type of Magnesium Do I Need?

Got a migraine? There's a magnesium for that.

Want something to help with mood and relaxation? There's a magnesium for that.

Want better memory and brain function? There's a magnesium for that.

According to TikTok, it's the elixir of life.

Unfortunately, TikTok can't always be trusted as a source for evidence backed advice.

Before we attempt to wow our friends with the latest biohacking insights, we may need to fact check that content first.

Because getting our magnesium mixed up, can be the difference between spending more time in bed or more time in the bathroom.

So, "What type of magnesium do I need?"

Well, it depends on what you need it for.

By the end of this piece, you'll understand the different magnesium types, how much magnesium you need, know your chloride from your oxide, and discover which type really helps you sleep.

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Key Benefits and Functions of Magnesium

A magnifying glass over a wooden cube with 'Mg' the chemical symbol for Magnesium on it.

Magnesium is non-negotiable for maintaining good health. It's critical for over 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies. From muscle and nerve function to energy production. We can meet our daily requirements either through food, dietary supplements, or both.

To get an idea of why magnesium is important, here's a breakdown of how our body uses it:

Muscle Maintenance

Magnesium plays a direct role in your muscular health. (1) It helps regulate muscle contractions by acting as a natural calcium blocker to help your muscles relax after contracting. If you suffer from leg cramps, it's worth getting your magnesium levels checked.

Mood and Relaxation

Magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitter activity and the release of stress hormones. This helps foster a calm and balanced nervous system. Resulting in improved mood, reduced anxiety and enhanced overall mental wellbeing. (2)


Magnesium is a key player in converting the food you eat into energy. ATP, the main molecule for storing and transferring energy in cells, must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active.

Blood Sugar Control

Magnesium assists in insulin action and blood sugar regulation, making it an important factor for those managing conditions like diabetes. (3)

Heart Health and Blood Pressure

Magnesium supports cardiovascular health by aiding in the regulation of blood pressure, maintaining heart rhythm, and supporting normal vascular function. (4)

Brain Health & Cognitive Function

Magnesium is essential for brain health and cognitive function. It plays a vital role in neurotransmission, synaptic plasticity, and energy metabolism. Magnesium l-threonate stands out as a magnesium form that effectively raises brain magnesium levels contributing to better memory and brain function. (5)

Strong Teeth and Bones

Magnesium plays a key role in mineralization processes, enhancing the strength and integrity of bones and teeth. (6)

Forms of Magnesium Supplements

Let's get into the different types of magnesium supplements. From the most bioavailable form, to those formulated to meet your specific needs. Whether you're aiming to improve sleep, enhance bone health, or support muscle recovery, we'll explore how each type of magnesium supplement can help (or hinder) you on your wellness journey.

Magnesium Oxide

Powdered magnesium oxide.

This is magnesium combined with oxygen. You may find it in your multivit, and if you do, you might want to reconsider your multivitamin choice. Magnesium oxide is possibly the least favorable form of magnesium due to it being poorly absorbed by the body.

So, if you do have a deficiency and you need to supplement magnesium, there are better forms out there which are more bioavailable.

Magnesium Citrate

Bound with citric acid found in fruits, if you're looking to replenish low magnesium levels, this is the one for you. Magnesium citrate is one of the most common forms of magnesium supplements, and gets top marks for bioavailability, meaning your body can easily absorb it. (7)

If you are low on magnesium, you may also find yourself getting more migraines. This is because a magnesium deficiency can affect brain function and blood vessel behavior. Studies suggest that magnesium supplements may help relieve headaches including tension and cluster headaches. (8)

Be mindful of your dosage here. Magnesium citrate also has a natural laxative effect. It can be taken at higher dosages if you need a little help with constipation.

Yep. This type of magnesium is your ally when it comes to digestive health.

Magnesium citrate draws water into the intestines, which loosens and softens the stool. This in turn aids with the digestive process by promoting bowel movements. It's this osmotic effect that makes magnesium effective as a laxative to alleviate constipation.

Use it wisely though.

It shouldn't be taken daily at high levels. Regularly taking magnesium citrate for constipation can disrupt natural bowel function and lead to dependency. Its potent osmotic effect, while effective, may also cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances if not managed carefully.

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium Glycinate

Of all the types of magnesium out there, this is the one that blew up TikTok. Famed for its calming and restorative properties, this is the go-to magnesium form for enhancing sleep quality and managing stress. Magnesium glycinate is a well absorbed magnesium that is gentler on the stomach than some other forms.

As the name suggests, magnesium glycinate combines magnesium with glycine, an amino acid that is known to have a calming and relaxing effect. Animal studies on glycine have suggested that glycine can improve sleep quality by inducing non-REM sleep and reducing the time it takes to fall into non-REM sleep. (9)

Improving our quality of sleep offers huge benefits to our overall health.

It enhances cognitive functions, supports emotional well-being, and contributes to physical health through restorative processes during non-REM sleep. Additionally, it boosts energy levels and physical performance, while also potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases in the long term.

Glycinate magnesium is ideal for those aiming to soothe their nervous system and ensure a peaceful night's sleep.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium Chloride

A magnesium salt that includes chloride, this is another well-absorbed magnesium form. This superior absorption makes it a good choice as a multi-purpose magnesium supplement. You can use magnesium chloride tablets or capsules to raise magnesium levels. This form of magnesium also plays a key role in detoxification processes, muscle health, and nervous system support.

Magnesium chloride can also be found in topical treatments such as sprays, lotions, creams, and dissolvable bath salts. Studies show that bathing in magnesium salts can improve the skin barrier function and reduce skin roughness and inflammation. (10)

Read about the top 5 magnesium benefits for skin here.

It's worth being mindful of products claiming to be a 'pill-free alternative' to the traditional form of magnesium though. There's not a huge amount of evidence to back up the claims that magnesium can effectively cross the skin barrier. (11) So if you're deficient, this method of delivery is not the most robust. There are better types of magnesium that are more easily absorbed.

Magnesium Taurate

Magnesium Taurate

This is a smart choice for those concerned about heart health. This form combines magnesium with taurine, an amino acid known for its anti-inflammatory and blood pressure regulation. (12) Magnesium taurate is easily absorbed by the body, and at the recommended dosages - doesn't possess the same laxative properties as other forms.

Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium L-threonate stands out as a magnesium form with a unique ability to contribute to better memory and brain function.

This form of magnesium is specifically designed to cross the blood-brain barrier. Making it highly effective for boosting memory, (13) focus, and overall mental clarity.

These cognitive benefits make magnesium l-threonate ideal for those who want to support their brain health as they age. Or anyone looking to sharpen their cognitive abilities.

Magnesium L-threonate is easily absorbed and may also bolster brain proteins like BDNF, sustaining long-term cognitive health.

No other form of magnesium has this same targeted action on the brain.

It often gets overlooked when it comes to brain health, but magnesium should be considered a key player in enhancing memory.

Studies show that Magnesium Threonate (MgT) can significantly increase the levels of certain proteins in the hippocampus which is a part of the brain that deals with memory. (14) This change is linked to better memory performance.

Magnesium also changes how synapses (the connections between brain cells) work, making the transmission of signals between these cells more effective. This improvement in signal transmission helps with both short-term memory (like remembering the name of the colleague you were just introduced to) and long-term memory (like remembering a childhood event).

Choosing the Right Types of Magnesium Supplement

So, now you know your citrates from your glycinates, finding which magnesium supplement is right for you comes down to bioavailability, individual health concerns, and your particular lifestyle and preferences.

Here's a quick checklist to help you make that informed decision:

Check Bioavailability

Magnesium's benefits are only as good as its ability to be absorbed by your body. Remember, not all forms are created equal:

Magnesium oxide has a low absorption rate, so less is retained by the body.

Magnesium citrate, on the other hand, has a higher bioavailability. It's more easily absorbed making it one of the most common forms of over-the-counter magnesium supplements.

What Are Your Health Goals?

Want to improve digestion or relieve occasional constipation? Magnesium citrate may help.

Hoping to calm anxiety or promote better sleep? Consider magnesium glycinate.

Struggling with migraines or headaches? Magnesium oxide may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Interested in promoting brain function and memory? Magnesium L-Threonate is specially formulated to cross the blood brain barrier to support overall brain health.

Concerned about blood pressure? Magnesium taurate is known for its cardiovascular benefits, supporting the prevention of arrhythmias, and guarding the heart.

Health Conditions

Individuals with kidney ailments or heart issues should be cautious and follow medical advice before taking any magnesium supplement.

Consider Your RDA

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adult males is 400-420 mg, while adult females should aim for 310-360 mg of magnesium per day. Use these as a guide when checking supplement labels, but don't forget to consider your dietary intake of magnesium rich foods.

Dietary Intake

If you're already incorporating magnesium rich foods such as almonds, black beans, and leafy greens, you might be getting enough magnesium already.

Sometimes we need a little helping hand.

Despite our best efforts, it might not be possible to get the magnesium we need. Which is where supplements can help.

Performance Lab® Magnesium

Performance Lab® Magnesium sets a new standard. It offers unparalleled support for your health and cognitive functions. Our formula combines the cognitive-boosting magnesium L-threonate with the innovative NutriGenesis® magnesium, creating a synergy that ensures maximum bioavailability and effectiveness.

Magnesium L-threonate is specifically chosen for its unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, providing enhanced support for cognitive functions, including memory and brain health.

NutriGenesis® magnesium, mimics the nutrient profile found in natural foods. It's paired with natural cofactors, making it easily recognized and utilized by the body. Ensuring you receive all the benefits magnesium has to offer.

Find out more about NutriGenesis® here.

Our magnesium supplement is 100% plant-based, with a clean label guaranteeing no artificial fillers, binders, or excipients, and is encased in prebiotic-infused pullulan capsules for optimal digestion and absorption.

Performance Lab® Magnesium acts as powerful backup. Combining magnesium supplements with a healthy balanced diet will not only treat low magnesium levels, but ensure optimal bodily function, support mental clarity, and enhance overall well-being.