Magnesium Supplementation

We have established that to some extent, most people are deficient in magnesium, and that food sources usually do not have a high enough magnesium content to exert a rapid change of levels in the body. This means there is a pivotal need for high quality and effective magnesium supplementation. Unlike other natural substances, magnesium supplements come in many different forms, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s explore the differences in forms so that you can identify which one is best for you.

Both in nature and in supplements, minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and calcium must be combined with another molecule to form a compound. This occurs because of the basic laws of chemistry. A mineral like magnesium has a positive charge and will attract another molecule with a negative charge, forming a combination called a compound. Supplementing with just elemental magnesium (Mg2+) is not possible. 

Each magnesium compound has a different level of absorption, bioavailability, and therapeutic value. These additional molecules often impact the medicinal value of the magnesium, and also have some benefits on their own (eg. the amino acid glycine).

Chemical Class of Magnesium
Magnesium Types
Inorganic Salts






Rapid absorption

Useful as a laxative

Poor oral bioavailability

Poor bowel tolerance

Not bound to an amino acid

Least optimal as a suppement

Organic Salts




Good bioavailability

Moderate magnesium yield

Power bowel tolerance
Complexes or chelates






Good bioavailability

Good bowel tolerance

Lower magnesiumyield

Table 4: Magnesium Types

About The Author

Dr. Paul Hrkal is a board-certified Naturopathic doctor with a passion to apply innovative and evidence-based nutritional, biological, and supplemental interventions to address underlying metabolic, endocrine and immunological dysfunctions. He is strong advocate of integrative medical education frequently writing and lecturing to both healthcare practitioners and public audiences. He also is the medical director for Advanced Orthomolecular Research, a leading Canadian natural health product company, and maintains a clinical practice in the Toronto area.

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