Magnesium is an important mineral that is critical for many functions of our body. It is important to get an adequate amount of magnesium into your diet so that these functions can work correctly.
Also, for people with gut issues like SIBO, IBS, and other bowel disorders, as well as for minor annoyances like insomnia and constipation supplementing with the correct form of Magnesium can often be very helpful.
In this article we will dive into what Magnesium actually is, the different types of Magnesium supplements, and how magnesium can be beneficial for sleep, constipation, and stress.
As the fourth most abundant essential mineral that is present within our bodies, magnesium (Mg2+) is most predominantly found in the bones, muscles, certain soft tissues, as well as less than 1% of our magnesium supplies can be found in the blood.
While magnesium can be naturally found within a number of food products, it is also available as a dietary supplement or as an additive in certain medications such as antacids and laxatives.
Some of the major biological processes that magnesium is responsible for in our bodies include:
Energy production within our cells
DNA and RNA synthesis
Stabilizing mitochondria (how our cells get energy) within cells
Developing and maintaining bone structure
How the cells in our brain and spinal cord communication with the other parts of our body
According to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, the following amounts of magnesium are recommended each day as shown in Table 1.
Table 1:Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Magnesium 2.
Birth – 6 months
7 – 12 months
1 – 3 years
4 – 8 years
9 – 13 years
14 – 18 years
19 – 30 years
31 – 50 years
Foods with High Magnesium Contents
Green leafy vegetables
Magnesium Deficiency: What’s the Problem?
Since magnesium plays such an important role in regulating important cellular mechanisms that allow for our nerves to function properly, connect with our muscles to allow for proper movement, as well as a number of other functions within our body, it is extremely important to maintain appropriate levels of this element.
Despite the numerous sources of magnesium present in the aforementioned food products, it is estimated that approximately 75% of Americans still do not meet these daily intake requirements for magnesium 3.
The continuous low intake of magnesium, or a massive loss of magnesium that is associated with certain health conditions, can lead to magnesium deficiency.
Some of the early signs of magnesium deficiency include:
Loss of appetite
Severe drops in magnesium can lead to seizures, abnormal heart rhythms or extremely low levels of calcium or potassium within the blood
Since a majority of magnesium is present in our cells or bones, it is difficult for a physician to adequately assess an individual’s magnesium status. Some ways in which magnesium status can be measured include measuring its concentration within our saliva, urine or even the presence of ionized magnesium found in the blood, plasma or serum. However none of these methods are adequate.
Types of Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium chloride can be used as a supplement for individuals with conditions that prevent them from absorbing magnesium from their food, such as individuals with severe diarrhea or vomiting, intestinal absorption problems, poorly controlled diabetes, a poor diet or alcoholism.
This type of magnesium has a poor bioavailability, meaning that it does not get absorbed into the blood very easily, therefore it will typically contain concentrations of magnesium that are up to 60% as compared to other types of magnesium supplements. Magnesium oxide is typically used to relieve constipation and acid reflux.
Magnesium glycinate is not associated with causing many adverse effects, as it is particularly gentle on the stomach. Individuals with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and migraine headaches typically benefit from taking this type of magnesium supplement.
This type of magnesium supplement has a better solubility in the body as compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium citrate is typically used to treat constipation as well as for the prevention of developing kidney stones.
Magnesium sulfate typically contains magnesium, sulfur and oxygen, and will typically be sold as Epsom Salt baths, which can be added to baths to relieve sore muscles as a result of its pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Magnesium malate is an extremely versatile supplement that has not only been associated with improving the youthful appearance of skin, promoting muscle performance and improving the energy levels within our bodies at the cellular level, but is also associated with promoting the production of saliva to help control bacteria present within our mouths and with binding to toxic metals such as aluminum to prevent their ability to cause adverse effects to our overall health upon exposure 12.
Therapeutic Uses of Magnesium
Magnesium supplementation can not only assist in ensuring that we meet our daily intake requirements for this extremely important element, but can also specifically target a variety of health issues and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with disease states that affect our ability to absorb and use magnesium.
Some of the therapeutic uses of magnesium supplements and the mechanisms by which it is effective for these conditions are listed in Table 2.
Table 2:Therapeutic uses and mechanisms of magnesium supplementation.
Mechanism of Action
Eclampsia and Preclampsia
Reduces arterial blood pressure by allowing arteries to relax
Reduces the ability of inflammation in the brain to begin, which is a major cause of seizures in pregnant women with these conditions
Prevents seizures through specific targets in the brain 4
Restores healthy heart electrical functions
Fights the development of arrhythmias at the source 5
Relaxes the airways through dilation
Reduces inflammation in the airways
Inhibits chemicals that cause the muscles in the airways to spasm
Increases the production of nitric oxide in the body to further reduce inflammation 6
Helps muscles in the GI tract relax, particularly the pyloric sphincter which is located between the stomach and the small intestine to prevent food from reversing and re-entering the stomach and esophagus
Neutralizes the acidity in the stomach, which prevents gas and bloating 7
Most appropriate form: Magnesium Oxide
Reduces brain swelling
Improves platelet function
Reduces the release or blocks pain-transmitting chemicals
Pulls water from the intestine which helps to soften stool 9
Most appropriate form: Magnesium Citrate
Increases release of an important neurological chemical known as GABA, which promotes relaxation and sleep 10
Regulates the body’s stress-response syndrome
Can improve gut health, which is associated with certain anxiety disorders
Stabilizing effect on mood; indicated for mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression 11
Side Effects of Magnesium
Despite the vast amount of benefits that are associated with magnesium supplementation, it is true that too much of a good thing can exist. Although these side effects slightly vary depending upon the specific type of magnesium supplement an individual is using, some common side effects include:
Lowered blood pressure
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is suggested that lowering your magnesium dosage may alleviate some of these problems. Some of the more serious adverse effects associated with an excess amount of magnesium supplementation can include:
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Extremely low blood pressure
Slowed breathing rate
Best Magnesium Supplements
So, you’re having trouble sleeping or dealing with constipation. You could even be dealing with SIBO, IBS, or another bowel issue where you deal with constipation. Below are the best magnesium supplements to use for sleep, constipation, anxiety, and stress.
Best Magnesium for Sleep
Natural Calm magnesium is one of the best products you can buy for both sleep and constipation. This magnesium supplement is in the form of magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate is one of the best forms of magnesium for sleep. They have a proprietary formula that allows for high absorption and ease of mixing. This is the brand I personally use and find the best.
Natural calm in the form of magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate is also recommended for constipation as well as being helpful with sleep and stress. This product hits two birds with one stone by helping with sleep and constipation.
This brand of magnesium is by Design for Health. This is a magnesium malate supplement of the purest form. Magnesium malate is another very gentle magnesium supplement that is helpful for constipation as well as many other health functions.
This is a quality magnesium oxide supplement by Plus Pharma. Magnesium oxide has also been shown to be beneficial for constipation. If you don’t find good results with the products above then this supplement is worth a try if you’re dealing with constipation and want a simple supplement.