|December 7, 2023

How to Choose the Best Magnesium Supplement for Your Body

By Courtney Sperlazza, MPH
Reviewed by Emily Gonzalez, ND for Scientific Accuracy

How to Choose the Best Magnesium Supplement for Your Body

  • Magnesium supplements come in different forms. Each plays a different role in your body, from mood to metabolism.
  • Choosing the right magnesium supplement comes down to your needs, as the various forms can provide unique benefits.
  • Read on to learn the effects of magnesium, which magnesium supplement to take and how Bulletproof can help you incorporate this essential mineral into your diet.

Magnesium is one of the most fascinating micronutrients. It affects everything from energy to brain function—but many people of all ages are not getting enough magnesium.[1] That’s why a magnesium supplement can be beneficial.

Not all magnesium supplements are the same; some forms are better for energy, while others are better for mood. Let’s explore why magnesium is important and how to choose the right supplement to suit your needs.

What are the benefits of magnesium supplements?

a hand holds 3 magnesium pills against a beige background

Your body stores roughly half your magnesium in your bones. Some of it is in your soft tissues, and minimal levels are in your blood. Traces of magnesium play a critical role in a wide range of bodily functions:

  • Synthesizing proteins
  • Supporting your DNA
  • Nerve function and muscle contraction
  • Regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
  • Energy production
  • Managing blood pressure
  • Controlling neurons
  • Assisting in the activation of vitamin D

You can get magnesium from food. You’ll find it in magnesium-rich foods like cashews, whole grains, leafy vegetables, avocado and dark chocolate. However, most Americans have low magnesium levels, so magnesium supplementation is an easy and inexpensive way to get more magnesium in your diet.

In the supplement aisle, you’ll find dozens of different magnesium supplements. There are different brands and doses, as well as different kinds of magnesium that support different roles.

Magnesium supplements: How do you choose one?

a bottle of bulletproof magnesium pills sit next to a glass of water against a blue background

Before you select a magnesium supplement, ask yourself what processes in your body you want to support. After all, certain forms can support brain function, while others are beneficial for muscle relaxation.

Here are the forms of magnesium you’ll most commonly find on the shelves. Once you learn how they work in your body, you’ll be able to select the right supplement for you.

Relaxation: Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is an essential mineral that’s highly absorbable. In fact, multiple studies have found that in healthy individuals, magnesium citrate is more bioavailable than other forms of magnesium.[2][3]

Here are a few that feature this key ingredient:

  • Bulletproof Magnesium: With 320mg of magnesium citrate per serving, this dietary supplement supports a healthy nervous system, brain function and cellular health.† You can take all three Magnesium capsules at once, or spread the dosage throughout the day.
  • Bulletproof Zen Mode: A holistic relaxation supplement that includes traditional ingredients like holy basil and kanna, Zen Mode also contains 125mg of magnesium citrate. That blend of adaptogenic herbs and other nutrients supports your body’s ability to handle stress, which can help you feel a little more calm and collected.†

Memory and brain function: Magnesium threonate

Magnesium threonate is preferred for the brain because your nervous system quickly absorbs this form.

Magnesium threonate is gaining attention for its brain protective properties, especially against cognitive decline from aging. In a formulation with phosphatidylserine and vitamins C & D, this form of magnesium was found to improve memory in healthy adults in China.[4]

The bottom line: Take magnesium threonate in the morning to support your brain and cognitive function. It has been shown to benefit memory and may protect against the effects of aging.

Constipation: Magnesium oxide

If you’re pooping less than once a day, small doses of magnesium oxide throughout the day can act like a laxative. If you’re going once or more per day, you might want to look at other forms. Of all the forms of magnesium, magnesium oxide is the one most likely to deliver laxative side effects like upset stomach and diarrhea.

With that information, you might expect that it’s not the most absorbable form. You end up excreting a lot of it, so you may need to supplement with other forms of magnesium.[5]

The bottom line: If you’re having a BM less than once a day, take magnesium oxide to help your digestion. If you are low on magnesium, add an additional form of magnesium supplement.

Muscle relaxation and detox: Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)

Your local grocery store and pharmacy carry bags of Epsom salts, which contain magnesium sulfate. Added to the bath, Epsom salts may soothe sore muscles.[6]
You don’t absorb much magnesium in an Epsom salt bath, but that’s no reason to trade your bath for capsules.

Some people take magnesium sulfate internally, but it’s easy to overdo it. If you ingest Epsom salt, you’re more likely to cause gastric distress than get any benefits.

The bottom line: If you’d rather take baths to get your magnesium, get a bag of Epsom salts.

How much magnesium should I take?

Leafy greens with eggs

Every supplement package includes specific instructions on how much to take. Follow the directions.

You don’t need to focus on balancing your supplements with the magnesium you get from foods. Your kidneys keep the right balance by filtering out excess magnesium found in food. But with supplemental magnesium, there is a risk of getting too much and suffering from magnesium toxicity. Before taking any dietary supplement, make sure to discuss it with your doctor.

If taking magnesium makes you feel anxious, other minerals, like sodium and potassium, might be out of balance. You also need adequate levels of B vitamins, boron and other trace minerals, which help to make sure you absorb the right amount of magnesium. Your doctor can order tests to be certain.

The bottom line: Follow the directions on your magnesium supplement bottle, and pay attention to how you feel. Talk to your doctor before you make any changes. And remember—the best magnesium supplements are the ones that are right for you. With Magnesium, and Zen Mode, you have two science-backed options that can provide targeted support for your body and your brain.

Ready to take your regimen to the next level? Learn more about the best supplements everyone should take—and why.

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This article was originally published on February 23, 2022 and has been updated with new content.