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magnesium supplement
There are different types of magnesium, each with advantages and disadvantages. Courtesy photo
Bite Size Health PearlsColumnsDiet & NutritionNatural Health

Naturopath perspective: Types of magnesium and common usage

One of my favorite supplements is magnesium. I use it with my patients for many common health problems and it works like a charm.

I use it with my female patients who are menstruating, as it helps them with their menstrual cramps and with hormonal-induced headaches.

I use it with patients that need to regulate their bowel movements and are nutrient deficient. I use it with my cardiovascular patients and with those that suffer from chronic fatigue.

I use it with my patients that suffer from mild neuropsychological symptoms, such as mild depression, general anxiety and restless leg syndrome.

In addition to magnesium rich foods, there are also magnesium supplements
Foods rich in magnesium include nuts and seeds, legumes, fiber-rich whole grains, low-fat dairy products, greens and chocolate. Courtesy photo

There are different types of this mineral so I will focus on the most clinically relevant types. Magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide, magnesium malate and magnesium sulfate.

Obviously, these are general guidelines and always remember to check with your healthcare provider.

The different molecular structure gives magnesium its name. Through school, research and treating patients, I have come to learn which are the best for certain conditions and which way they are best absorbed by the body.

Magnesium Oxide

  • Antacid
  • Poorly absorbed when compared to other types.

Magnesium citrate

  • Hypertension
  • Constipation

Magnesium glycinate

  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cramps

Magnesium malate

  • Chronic fatigue

Magnesium sulfate

  • Absorbed well through the skin.
  • What we find in Epsom salt.
  • Relieves menstrual cramps when applied topically and intravenously.
  • Relieves musculoskeletal pains and aches, especially those caused by overexertion during physical activities.

Sometimes supplements are warranted for multiple conditions, and in this case, I tend to use a blend of citrate, glycinate and malate. I usually recommend a loading dose (a high amount for a short amount of time), and a maintenance dose (an amount that tends to be lower, but longer in duration).

Patients with cardiac arrhythmias should consult their doctors before starting any type of mineral regimen. However, magnesium has also been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease. In this instance, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional.

Certain populations have lower magnesium levels – elderly, diabetics and individuals with IBD, IBS, food allergies, alcoholism and poor microbial diversity — which might warrant ongoing magnesium treatment.

Remember that we can absorb between 30-40% of our dietary intake, but certain factors can decrease the amount of the mineral available to the body. For example, recent studies show that soil, over centuries of cultivation, has 28% less magnesium.

Processed food, dietary aluminum, a low protein intake < 30g/diet, high phosphorus to magnesium ratio, very high calcium intake, alcohol, soft drinks and coffee, and some drugs, such as diuretics, can also lower our magnesium absorption rates.

Keep in mind that some factors can increase available magnesium that our bodies can use, such as fermentable fiber, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and hard water.

Dr. Sadi Jimenez is a licensed naturopath that diagnoses and treats patients using an integrative approach, combining conventional and alternative medicine to unmask the root cause of chronic disease.
Website: Phone: 760-284-1042; Email: [email protected]

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Other columns by Dr. Sadi Jimenez


  • Fiorentini D, Cappadone C, Farruggia G, Prata C. Magnesium: Biochemistry, Nutrition, Detection, and Social Impact of Diseases Linked to Its Deficiency. Nutrients. 2021;13(4):1136. Published 2021 Mar 30. doi:10.3390/nu13041136
  • Hartshorn AS, Chadwick OA, Vitousek PM, Kirch PV. Prehistoric agricultural depletion of soil nutrients in Hawai’i. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 18;103(29):11092-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0604594103. Epub 2006 Jul 10. PMID: 16832047; PMCID: PMC1544177.