What type of magnesium is the best?

Many patients ask about the best type of magnesium supplement to take for the prevention of migraines and other symptoms. Research studies have compared magnesium oxide with chelated magnesium and a slow release form of magnesium chloride and showed that all three types are absorbed equally well. I usually recommend starting with 400 mg of magnesium oxide but chelated magnesium is also very inexpensive and either one can be effective. However, if one type of magnesium causes upset stomach or diarrhea, another one should be tried. Chelated magnesium is a form of magnesium which is attached to an amino acid and depending on the amino acid it is called magnesium aspartate, glycinate, gluconate, orotate, malate, and other. Besides chelated and magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate or carbonate can be tried. When these magnesium salts are not tolerated or not absorbed, slow release forms should be considered, although they are much more expensive. There are two slow release forms, Mag Tab SR (containing magnesium lactate) and Slow Mag (magnesium chloride with calcium). Each tablet of these two products contains only a small amount of magnesium and the daily dose is at least 4 tables. Presence of calcium in Slow Mag may impair absorption of magnesium, making Mag Tab SR the preferred product. People who need to take calcium as well as magnesium should be taking these two separately because calcium interferes with the absorption of magnesium. The reason calcium and magnesium are often combined in one pill (Cal-Mag, Slow Mag, and other) is that magnesium helps improve the absorption of calcium, so it would not be too much to take Cal-Mag with one meal and magnesium alone with another. Patients with serious kidney problems should not be taking magnesium or any other supplements without consulting their nephrologist and having regular blood tests.

6 comments
  1. Molly says: 08/13/20121:22 pm

    I wonder if you can comment on what “Ozonated Magnesium Oxide” is? I’ve wondered about this for quite a while. It’s used in a product called “Oxy-Powder” which is marketed as an ‘intestinal cleaner.’ The amount of Ozonated Magnesium Oxide in 4 capsules is shown at 2746 mg. Other content in 4 capsules is Natural Citric Acid, 100 mg, and Organic Germanium, 22 mg.

    Thank you.

  2. Dr. Mauskop says: 08/13/20121:44 pm

    Yes, if you take 2,746 mg of magnesium it will cause diarrhea and will “clean” your intestines. However, you do not need to pay $45 – you can buy the same amount of magnesium oxide for $5. The other ingredients are not needed to cause “cleaning”. By the way, ozonated implies that ozone is being released into the intestines and even if it was true (which is highly unlikely), ozone could kill good bacteria that help you digest food.

  3. Molly says: 08/16/20121:39 pm

    Thank you. I understand you correctly there is no such thing as “ozonated” magnesium? In other words, this product is simply magnesium oxide and no different than a magnesium supplement except for the additional ingredients and the MEGA price? I’m actually asking this because I suffer chronic daily migraines and have tried the oxy-powder for constipation that results from taking vicodin. However, I find that a magnesium supplement works as well and is also recommended in CDH as a preventative — which led me to ask if there is a difference or if, as you imply, this is another supplement created to ‘milk’ the consumer. The usual OTC products for constipation are pretty pathetic compared to using the magnesium. Thanks again for responding.

  4. james landauer says: 08/17/20123:16 pm

    I completely agree with Dr Mauskop regarding magnesium oxide as the place to start when considering a supplement. A few comments: 1)Avoid magnesium citrate because citrate increases the absorption of aluminum and lead. 2)Avoid magnesium chloride because our diet contains excessive chloride from salt and drinking water. A high intake of chloride can raise the blood pressure. 3)Be aware that some of those “harmless” amino acids (such as glycine and glutamine) used in chelates alter central nervous system function. 4)If diarrhea occurs, you can use milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) at 200 mg/teaspoon to titrate a tolerable dose.

  5. Sue says: 10/29/20137:41 pm

    Is there a difference between Magnesium chloride and Magnesium sulphate when taken intravenously (480mg in 40% saline) and would you recommend one over the other,?

  6. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/29/20139:48 pm

    No, there is no advantage in magnesium sulfate over chloride when given intravenously, although there is a little more magnesium in 1 gram of magnesium chloride than in 1 gram of magnesium sulfate. We use magnesium sulfate for our migraine and cluster headache patients.

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