Ranking the best magnesium supplements of 2020

Ranking the best magnesium supplements of 2020
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If you want to boost your testosterone levels or improve your heart health, a magnesium supplement might be the right place to start.

They are powerful, effective, and safe as long as they are taken as directed. Magnesium supplementation has been successfully used in scientific research studies to improve sleep quality, treat restless leg syndrome, and even to increase androgen levels in older men.

Looking for these benefits? Check out our rankings of the top magnesium supplements on the market, as well as our detailed review of the science behind magnesium supplementation.

Rankings

1. LiveWell MagWell Magnesium And Zinc

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For those serious about taking the best magnesium supplement out there, MagWell is top dog. MagWell contains three different types of magnesium to maximize absorption and effectiveness: magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium malate.

It also stacks the already-potent magnesium formula with zinc picolinate (the most bioavailable form of zinc) and vitamin D3 to further help enhance the overall effectiveness. It’s completely free of GMOs, soy, gluten, dairy, shellfish, sugar, fillers, etc. Each serving contains 225mg of magnesium, 7.5mg of zinc, and 1000IU of vitamin D3.

Made in the USA and third-party tested to ensure quality, this is without a doubt Bodynutrition‘s #1 overall magnesium supplement of 2020.

2. Essential Elements Magnesium Plus Zinc With D3

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Essential elements Mg contains 3 different forms of magnesium – magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate and magnesium citrate – alongside zinc and vitamin D3  to help with bioavailability and overall effectiveness. It’s also made in the USA, and third-party tested to ensure quality.

With a lengthy list of positive reviews about Essential Elements Mg, you can be certain this is an excellent magnesium supplement to improve anxiety and sleep.

3. Nuzena Magnesium Pure +

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Magnesium Pure + by Nuzena is another solid option. Nuzena’s Magnesium Pure + contains a dosage of 400mg. While we see comparable dosages in other magnesium supplements, what we find separates Nuzena is their attention to product quality and customer experience.

Nuzena offers registered dieticians, quality certification and real time quality reports, alongside their product formulas being; Non – GMO, Gluten Free and Vegan friendly.

4. TransparentLabs RawSeries Magnesium Bisglycinate

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For more energy, improved muscle function, and better sleep—not to mention better overall performance—you need to watch your magnesium levels.

For that, we like TransparentLabs RawSeries Magnesium Bisglycinate. Its formula gives you your daily dose in a form that your body can immediately absorb and put to use without creating extra stomach acid or other unpleasant side effects.

The key here is absorption. Research has found that magnesium bisglycinate chelate can actually be used by your body, unlike the alternatives.

And because it’s easy for your body can access it, you can enjoy even the smallest benefits, including protection against bone loss, stress-induced thyroid disease, protein deficiency, nerve disorders, and DNA toxicity (yes, that’s a thing).

Magnesium Bisglycinate isn’t as cheap as other types of magnesium, but it’s definitely worth the difference. No artificial sweeteners or coloring. No artificial preservatives. Gluten-free and non-GMO.

5. EvoSport Zinc & Magnesium ZMA

Zinc and Magnesium

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This supplement combines both Zinc and Magnesium to create a powerful supplement combo with numerous health benefits.

Designed and recommended for active men and women, it contributes to normal immune system function and also helps you balance your electrolytes and reduce fatigue.

They come in the form of a high-strength, quality tablet, and contain Magnesium, Zinc Glutonate, Vitamin B6, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Silicon Dioxide, and Magnesium Stearate. Per tablet, you are looking at doses of 128mg of Magnesium, 18mg of Zinc Glutonate, and 2mg of Vitamin B6.

If you’re looking for a quality magnesium supplement that will actually do what it claims to do, EvoSport may have you covered with this one!

6.  Metagenics Mag Glycinate

mag-glycinate

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Metagenics made a name for itself as a prescription-style supplement company that offered high-potency supplements that were only available with a code from a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical professional.

Their magnesium supplement offering comes in the form of magnesium glycinate, a salt form of magnesium that’s not as well-absorbed as a chelate, but tends to be better tolerated than magnesium oxide (used in inexpensive magnesium supplements), which can upset the stomach because of its alkalinity.

The dosage is a fairly standard 100 mg per tablet, and the inactive ingredients are almost identical to a number of its competitors—cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, stearic acid, etc.

Regardless, it does quite well on independent analytical tests of its contents.  Lab testing reveals that it contains 105 mg of magnesium per capsule, meaning there’s an excess of 5% magnesium.

7.  Now Foods Magnesium Citrate

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The magnesium supplement offered by Now Foods comes in a loose powder form.  It’s a best-seller, and is very simplistic. Its only ingredient is magnesium citrate, which had decent absorption properties and comes with a sharp tart taste.

Since it’s a free powder, the serving size is up to you, but the recommended serving is half a teaspoon, which provides 315 mg of magnesium (79% of your recommended daily intake).

You might be wondering if eyeballing half a teaspoon is a reliable way to measure your magnesium intake, and surely it is not. As with most other loose powder form supplements, you’ll need a micro scale to accurately measure your dosage.

8.  Life Extension Magnesium Caps

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The magnesium supplement from Life Extension uses an uncommon form of magnesium, magnesium L-Threonate. While it’s not as high of a dosage as you’ll find in other magnesium supplements (each capsule only has 12% of the recommended daily value), this particular form has been studied for its potential to improve memory in older adults—some nutritionists believe that this form has unique biochemical properties that make it superior to other forms of magnesium.

9.  Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium

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Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium provides a reliable 100 mg dose of magnesium in each tablet.

The form of the magnesium in Doctor’s Best is chelated magnesium—this means that each magnesium atom is surrounded by organic molecules that are supposed to help your intestinal tract absorb the magnesium more readily.

Aside from the active ingredients, Doctor’s Best contains cellulose and two stearate sources to help bind the tablets together, as well as a compound called croscarmellose sodium—it sounds complex, but really it’s just a powder that allows the tablet to break down more quickly.

10.  Natural Vitality Natural Calm

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The approach taken by Natural Vitality to magnesium supplementation is a little different.  Instead of a capsule or tablet, Natural Vitality Natural Calm comes in a powder form that you scoop into a glass of water to drink.

One serving (assuming your teaspoon measuring skills are accurate) delivers 350 mg of magnesium, which represents 87% of your recommended daily intake.  Since it’s a powder, however, you can measure out as much as you want.

The magnesium is in the form of magnesium carbonate, alongside citric acid, presumably to boost absorption and give the drink a tart, pleasing taste.  Magnesium carbonate, however, is not absorbed as well as some other forms of the mineral.

11.  Jigsaw Health Magnesium w/ SRT

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Jigsaw Health’s magnesium supplement is more than just a tablet that provides one nutrient.  The philosophy behind this product is to provide several ingredients that work together to help magnesium do its job inside your body.

In addition to 125 mg of magnesium, each tablet of Jigsaw Health w/ SRT provides vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, and malic acid.  It’s nice to see these additional ingredients, but Mag w/ SRT does have more binders and fillers than some of its competitors.

Category winners

Best magnesium overall: MagWell Magnesium and Zinc

MagWell takes the crown thanks to its multi-source approach. With magnesium citrate, glycinate, and malate, MagWell is rapidly and efficiently absorbed by your body.

Best magnesium for sleep: Transparent Labs Magnesium Bisglycinate

If you’re taking magnesium for sleep, you want an ultra-pure supplement that’s not going to upset your stomach. Transparent Labs wins on both accounts thanks to its non-alkalizing magnesium bisglycinate formulation.

Best magnesium for anxiety: Nuzena Magnesium Pure +

Most research on using magnesium to treat anxiety uses doses of at least 300 mg. Nuzena Magnesium Pure +, with its 400 mg dose, is an excellent choice to get the best chance of improving your anxiety.

Best magnesium for athletes: EvoSport Zinc & Magnesium ZMA

Athletes looking to improve their performance benefit from magnesium and zinc in combination, which are thought to enhance recovery at night and may even boost testosterone as well. If you’re a serious athlete, EvoSport should be your magnesium supplement of choice.  

Best magnesium for older adults: MagWell Magnesium and Zinc

MagWell shines for older adults thanks to its inclusion of zinc and vitamin D alongside magnesium. This triad of micronutrients are vital for supporting strong bones and healthy hormone levels in older adults, and deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D are all more common in the elderly. 

Best magnesium for women: Essential Elements Mg

At all stages in life, women need less magnesium than men. That’s why Essential Elements Mg is the best choice for women: with 225 mg of magnesium per serving, it’s plenty to ensure you aren’t deficient, without overloading your body with too much magnesium.

Who should buy magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral that can be helpful for everything from boosting testosterone to improving sleep quality. These applications suggest a few key groups that might benefit from magnesium supplementation. First among these is men with low testosterone.

While there are plenty of testosterone boosters, estrogen blockers, and male enhancement pills that use sophisticated blends of ingredients to help men (especially older men) with low testosterone, sometimes the cause of the problem is a lack of magnesium.

There’s good scientific evidence suggesting that older men with low levels of magnesium are far more likely to have lower androgen levels, and moreover, if these men take a magnesium supplement, their testosterone goes up.

Magnesium is also useful if you have sleep disturbances. Low levels of magnesium have been associated with poor sleep quality, and for this reason, magnesium is found in many sleep aids.

Research on older adults (who often have trouble getting quality sleep) suggests that magnesium supplements can improve sleep quality.

Magnesium can also help with restless leg syndrome, a particularly troublesome source of reduced sleep quality that is not usually well-treated with other sleep aids.

How we ranked

For our rankings of the best magnesium supplements, we looked first for supplements that provided easily adjustable doses.

Our preferred dosage per tablet was 100 mg since it’s easiest to split doses into smaller amounts to take throughout the day with a dosage around this level, but we allowed for other dosage levels as long as they were reasonable.

Products whose magnesium dose was too high or too low did not make the rankings. A moderate dosage is important because of the “ceiling effect” around magnesium’s bioavailability: very high doses are not absorbed, because you can only absorb so much at one time.

Next, we eliminated products that only provided magnesium alongside other trace minerals. This meant that products like Solaray Calcium Magnesium Zinc didn’t make the grade, despite being a best-seller.

These additional ingredients make it much harder to adjust your magnesium dosage, since you also have to worry about your intake of the other minerals. If you do want a source of several trace minerals at once, going for a full-fledged multivitamin specifically tailored for men or for women is probably a better bet.

Among the remaining magnesium supplements, we ranked those that used water soluble forms of magnesium like magnesium citrate higher than those that use less expensive but insoluble forms of magnesium like magnesium oxide.

Insoluble forms of magnesium such as magnesium oxide rely on your stomach acid to dissolve the oxide and release the magnesium ions into solution, which makes absorption slower, but more importantly, can reduce the acidity level of your stomach.

Because breaking down metal oxide consumes stomach acid, it can cause digestive problems for some people, because their stomach is less able to break down other compounds.

Finally, we cut anything with too much in the way of unnecessary fillers, flavorings, and colorings. Several magnesium products come in powder form, so mixing them into a shake or smoothie is a much better solution than going with a chewable tablet or a gummy.

Natural Vitality Calm Gummies, with its high sugar content, is just one example of multiple magnesium supplements that did not make the final rankings because of this requirement.

Benefits

Magnesium is a vital mineral nutrient that helps your body produce energy, keep up testosterone production, and sleep well. When your body does not get enough magnesium, you might have muscle cramps or weakness, fatigue, insomnia, and general malaise.

Insufficient magnesium intake is very common. According to one study, almost half the population of the United States does not get enough magnesium in their diet, so addressing magnesium deficiency should be a priority for many people (3).

If you get plenty of magnesium in your diet from foods rich in magnesium, like almonds, spinach, cashews, other nuts, and black beans, you probably don’t need a magnesium supplement.

But since these foods are not always cheap or easy to integrate into your normal diet, you might find you need extra magnesium from external sources.

One group of people who can often benefit from magnesium supplementation is older men.  One of the classic problems that comes with getting old as a male is decreased testosterone.

This male sex hormone is associated with strength, vigor, energy, and libido, and when levels of testosterone decrease, all of these qualities decrease as well.

You’ve no doubt seen advertisements for prescription drugs offered as a treatment for “low T.”  Wouldn’t it be great if you could get similar results without a prescription?

There is some tantalizing evidence that this might be possible with magnesium supplementation.  A scientific paper published in 2011 in the International Journal of Andrology by Marcello Maggio and other researchers at the University of Parma in Italy studied the blood magnesium levels in a group of elderly men over age 65 (4).

Maggio and his fellow scientists found that, among their sample of elderly men, lower magnesium levels were strongly correlated with lower levels of testosterone, as well as the muscle-building hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1).

This, combined with the fact that almost half of the American population does not get enough magnesium in their diet, indicates that you might see a boost in testosterone if you start taking a magnesium supplement.

Indeed, further evidence for this hypothesis was presented in a study published in 2010 by researchers in Turkey (5).

Martial arts practitioners took either a magnesium supplement or a placebo supplement over the course of a four week training program; during the study, the researchers tracked the testosterone levels of the subjects.

The researchers found that, as we’d expect, magnesium supplementation increased testosterone levels in the athletes; this increase was compounded by the exercise they did.

This suggests that the testosterone boosting effects of magnesium supplementation are better achieved when combined with a full-body exercise routine—in this case, tae kwon do training.

Magnesium may also help improve sleep quality. Beyond improving testosterone levels and their associated benefits (more energy, vigor, muscular strength, etc.), magnesium may also be helpful when it comes to improving sleep quality.

A 2012 study by researchers in Iran found that a daily supplementation regimen of 500 mg of magnesium improved subjective measurements of insomnia in elderly patients (6).

The magnesium supplementation program increased sleep time, decreased early morning awakening, and improved the speed at which the patients fell asleep at night.

Magnesium might also be helpful if you have restless leg syndrome at night.  A 1998 study by researchers at Albert Ludwigs University in Germany studied ten patients with restless leg syndrome who underwent a magnesium treatment during a four to six week period (7).

The 500 mg dose of magnesium helped decrease periodic limb movements during sleep by over half.  Given that other treatments for restless leg syndrome involve fairly powerful neurological drugs, using a magnesium supplement might be an attractive alternative or adjunctive treatment.

Recommended dosage

Though research thus far is limited, most studies use doses of around 300 to 500 mg of magnesium per day.  The tae kwon do study discussed earlier used a dose of 10 mg of magnesium per kilogram of body mass—so a 150 pound male would take a dose of 680 mg of magnesium per day.

These by-weight formulas help compensate for the fact that larger people need a larger dose of medication to get the same effect as a smaller person.

Recall that the absorption of magnesium is related to the dose you take.  If you tried to take 400 mg of magnesium all at once, your body would not absorb it as well as if you’d split that dose into four or five daily portions (8).

Of course, this doesn’t stop some studies from taking this exact approach—the insomnia study on elderly patients conducted in Iran used a straight 500 mg bolus before bed.  In practice, this definitely means that less than the full dosage was absorbed.

Keep in mind that your own needs might be lower if your diet is better than average.  Indeed, if your diet is good enough, you probably don’t even need a magnesium supplement. For healthy people without a deficiency, the recommended upper limit of magnesium intake from supplements is 350 mg per day.

Side effects

As a water-soluble nutrient that’s ubiquitous in many kinds of foods, the human body is well-equipped to tolerate a range of magnesium intakes.

One study reports that slight abdominal pain and nonspecific musculoskeletal pain can occur, but this only occurred with a high dose of magnesium chloride consumed in a fasted condition (i.e. without taking any food) (9).

According to Healthline, excessively high doses of magnesium can cause cramping or nausea (10), and the Mayo Clinic cautions that only people with healthy kidney function should take a magnesium supplement (11).

Some types of magnesium supplements might upset your stomach, since some magnesium salts like magnesium oxide will react with the acid in your stomach.

This can be useful—magnesium oxide is sometimes used as a treatment for indigestion and heartburn for this reason—but if you don’t have these problems, it could disrupt the normal function of your stomach acid.

A citrate or amino acid chelate form of magnesium would be better if you’re worried about this.

FAQ

Q: How is magnesium related to sleep?

A: Low magnesium levels are associated with poor sleep quality and the development of sleep disturbances including restless leg syndrome, but until relatively recently, the underlying biological mechanisms for why have been difficult to pin down.

Now, however, there is promising research that indicates that chronic inflammation might be the link (12). People with low magnesium intake have (no surprise) low blood levels of magnesium, but also high levels of biomarkers for chronic inflammation, including C-reactive protein.

Research findings like this suggest that magnesium may improve sleep by reducing chronic inflammation. Other research suggests that magnesium ions interact with neurotransmitters like GABA to affect sleep, so while inflammation is part of the picture, it may not be the only reason magnesium is related to sleep.

Q: Can you overdose on magnesium?

A: Yes, by taking very large doses of supplemental magnesium, it is possible to overdose on magnesium, though this is quite rare. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, supplemental intake of magnesium is safe at levels of up to 350 mg of magnesium per day (13).

Cases of magnesium overdose have been reported after acute ingestion of around 5000 mg, which is so much magnesium that it overwhelms your body’s ability to eliminate excess magnesium.

At more moderate doses of magnesium, your kidneys can eliminate excess magnesium from your blood and excrete it in urine. For this reason, people who have renal disease or kidney failure are at a higher risk of magnesium toxicity, so they should talk to a doctor before taking a magnesium supplement.

Q: What foods are rich in magnesium?

A: Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are all excellent sources of magnesium. Among common foods, the ones highest in magnesium are spinach, tofu, dark chocolate, avocado, pumpkin seed, bananas, chard, and almonds.

For magnesium in food, health authorities have not set any limits on magnesium consumption from food, since your body is better adapted at eliminating excess magnesium consumed from whole foods. This is why several servings of pumpkin seeds, for example, which contain 168 mg of magnesium per ounce, do not pose a risk of magnesium overdose or toxicity.

Q: When should you take magnesium?

A: Since there is a “ceiling effect” to magnesium absorption, it’s best to split your magnesium dosage up into several smaller doses throughout the day.

One clinical trial conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture demonstrated how this would work in practice: The target dosage of 320 mg of magnesium per day was split into five separate capsules (14).

Two were taken in the morning, one was taken at lunch, and two more were taken in the evening. This ensured a steady intake of magnesium throughout the day, which allows for optimal magnesium absorption.

Even in experimental studies on using magnesium to improve sleep, it seems that taking smaller doses throughout the day is preferable to taking a single dose right before bed.

Q: What is magnesium deficiency?

A: If your dietary intake of magnesium deficiency is not high enough to maintain adequate reserves of magnesium in your body, you can develop a deficit. As discussed earlier, low levels of magnesium intake have been associated with poor sleep quality, restless leg syndrome, and low testosterone in men.

People who are obese appear to be at a higher risk for magnesium deficiency—obesity is related to inflammation, and given magnesium’s role in combating chronic, systemic inflammation, this may explain the obesity/magnesium deficiency connection.

Interestingly, some research even suggests that vitamin D is related to the obesity/magnesium connection as well, because increasing vitamin D levels in obese people with magnesium deficiency seems to boost magnesium levels as well (14).

Q: Can magnesium supplements help with migraines?

A: Some experimental evidence suggests a connection between decreases in magnesium levels and migraines, such as a study from 1989 that used medical imaging to demonstrate that magnesium levels decrease in the brain during a migraine attack (15).

This naturally led to clinical experiments to see if magnesium supplementation could actually prevent or decrease the severity of migraines. One such experiment, published in 1996, found no effect of magnesium supplementation on migraines, and the clinical trial was stopped (16).

Another clinical trial similarly found no effect of a 300 mg magnesium supplement on migraines (17). So unfortunately, while some evidence suggests that magnesium levels are related to the development of migraines, there is not strong evidence that supplementing with magnesium will actually reduce the incidence or severity of migraine headaches.

Q: What does magnesium do?

A: Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s necessary for any living cell. It plays a key role in the generation of cellular energy, the regulation of nerve cells, and dozens of other functions.

In humans, some of the most important areas of magnesium function that are vulnerable to deficiency have to do with sleep quality and, among men, androgen production.

Because magnesium is used in so many biological functions, pinning down why deficiencies are related to these and other health problems is tricky—some evidence indicates that magnesium’s role in reducing chronic inflammation might be one

Q: How much magnesium is too much?

A: According to health experts at the National Institutes of Health, it is not recommended to supplement with more than 350 mg in a day for healthy adults, unless under a doctor’s supervision.

Notably, clinical trials often use higher doses than this, especially when treating magnesium deficiencies, but once magnesium levels reach healthy levels, the usual caveats apply.

People with kidney problems are at a higher risk of getting too much magnesium, because they can’t eliminate magnesium from their system as easily. If you have kidney problems, you should talk to your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement (or any supplement, for that matter).

Q: Can magnesium supplements help with constipation?

A: Yes, magnesium can help with constipation in two ways. First, large doses of magnesium salts such as magnesium sulfate (also known as Epsom salts) can directly treat constipation by drawing water into your digestive tract and inducing a laxative effect. Second, supplemental doses of magnesium, while not a treatment for acute constipation, are known to soften stool.

In fact, this effect is even tracked as an adverse side effect of magnesium supplementation, but if hard stools are a problem for you, you could leverage this as an advantage instead of a side effect.

Q: What is magnesium citrate?

A: Magnesium citrate is a common source of supplemental magnesium that’s notable for being soluble in water. This makes its absorption levels quite high compared to insoluble forms of magnesium such as magnesium oxide.

The citrate form of magnesium dissociates into citrate ions and magnesium ions as soon as it reaches your stomach; insoluble forms of magnesium require stomach acid to dissolve the magnesium to release its ionic form, which is necessary for absorption.

For this reason, our top-ranked magnesium supplements all use magnesium citrate or other soluble and highly bioavailable forms of magnesium.

Q: What causes low magnesium?

A: The root cause for most cases of magnesium deficiency is insufficient dietary intake. A low quality diet that is lacking in nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables is likely to cause magnesium deficiency, but that’s not the whole story.

Certain health conditions, like obesity, seem to be related to lower levels of magnesium, and the direction of causation is not clear.

Obesity is known to reduce the bioavailability of other critical nutrients, like vitamin D, so it may well reduce the bioavailability of magnesium as well.

Some less common medical conditions, like untreated celiac disease, can cause problems with magnesium absorption as well, so if you discover that you are deficient in magnesium and your dietary quality is good, it’s worth exploring what the underlying cause might be.

Related articles

Recap

There are two groups of people who will likely benefit most from a magnesium supplement. The first group is older people, especially men, who want to boost their testosterone levels for more energy, vigor, muscular strength, and libido.

The second group is people with sleep disturbances like insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Magnesium might be able to help your body get back to normal and leave you feeling stronger, more energetic, and healthier.

For Bodynutrition’s #1 recommended magnesium supplement, click here.





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