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Magnesium Glycinate Vs Citrate: What’s The Difference?

Magnesium really is a magical mineral. It offers myriad benefits and if you have various common health niggles, the chances are, magnesium can help. But, what type of magnesium is really best? Here I'll compare the differences between magnesium glycinate vs citrate, so you can choose the best option for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • We look at the important differences between Magnesium Glycinate Vs Citrate.
  • Magnesium is an important mineral for physical and mental health.
  • Magnesium citrate can reduce constipation and help with headaches and magnesium glycinate can support you with stress.

What Is Magnesium And Why Is It Essential In Your Diet?

Magnesium is a key mineral for health. It’s one that many of us fall short of. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common types of nutrient deficiency.

Magnesium is essential for many aspects of our well-being and benefits our body and brain.

Magnesium is often described as nature’s tranquilizer and is included in many anxiety blends. (Source)

This is because it stimulates the body to release GABA – a relaxing neurotransmitter, making magnesium the original chill pill.

People who are deficient in magnesium may suffer from more anxiety, and interestingly, when you’re stressed, your magnesium gets used up quicker, so it’s one to consider if you are feeling on edge.

Magnesium can also support your digestive function. 

This is why you’ll often see magnesium suggested if you are suffering from constipation. It’s so effective at getting things moving that it’s also often used in laxative preparations. (Source)

And let’s not forget magnesium’s heart health benefits, as this mineral can reduce your blood pressure and help to keep your heartbeat nice and stable. (Source)(Source)

Other health benefits of magnesium include: (Source)

  • Relaxed  muscles
  • Reduced depression
  • Improved blood sugar levels
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Lower risk of migraine attacks
  • Improved menstrual cramping
Products containing magnesium

Are You Getting Enough Magnesium In Your Diet?

You want to be aiming for around 350 mg of Magnesium per day. In theory, it is possible to get this amount from your diet, but it depends on what you eat.

And remember that if you’re often stressed (who isn’t) or if you are very active, you can use up your magnesium reserves extra fast.

One way to assess if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet is to look out for symptoms of deficiency, including muscle cramps, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, and headaches.

Of course, many of these symptoms can also be caused by other things, so check with your doctor if you are unsure.

You can get magnesium from a variety of foods.

The best sources include: (Source)

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Cashew nuts
  • Dark chocolate (yes, really!)
  • Black beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanut butter

So, as you can see,  there are plenty of ways to get magnesium into your diet – it’s just a question of prioritizing these sources in sufficient quantities and regularly.

Some people also suggest using Epsom salt (magnesium-rich) baths or using some of the various magnesium sprays available now.

The idea is that you absorb magnesium through your skin to top up your levels. But it’s hard to figure out just how much you’re getting in this manner – so supplementation may be a more reliable way of meeting your daily needs.

Whilst a food-first approach is always the best place to start, the reality is that many of us have a nutrient gap between what we consume and what we need for optimal well-being.

One reason for this is that soil nutrient levels have become depleted, including for magnesium, so it’s difficult to get as much as we once would from foods such as leafy greens.

What Is The Difference Between Magnesium Citrate And Glycinate?

There are many different types of magnesium but citrate and glycinate are two of the most commonly used forms in supplements.

Which one is right for you really depends on your health concerns. For example, magnesium citrate is typically the supplement of choice if you suffer from constipation.

This is because it’s able to gently encourage bowel movement and can help to keep you regular.

Some people might choose to use magnesium citrate in this way on an as-needed basis, whereas others might prefer to use it on a daily basis as a preventive.

This form of magnesium is also sometimes recommended for headache sufferers.

Whilst it’s cheaper than other forms of magnesium, it is better absorbed than magnesium oxide and is less likely to give you extreme laxative effects. (Source)

What Is Magnesium Citrate?

Magnesium citrate is really just what it says on the tin, i.e. its magnesium combined together with an organic salt known as citrate.

If your concerns are more related to stress, anxiety, insomnia or general tension, then magnesium glycinate could be the way to go.

What Is Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate is formed when magnesium is combined with the amino acid glycinate.

Glycinate has lots of benefits of its own, and as such supports GABA regulation and sleep quality. (Source)

supplements pills and glass of water

What Are The Side Effects Of Magnesium?

Magnesium can cause diarrhea if you take too much. This is most likely to be the case when you take forms such as magnesium oxide because it’s poorly absorbed in the gut.

For magnesium citrate, you can get a mild laxative effect but this shouldn’t be as extreme as with the oxide unless you take too much. So always read your supplement labels carefully.

With magnesium glycinate, potential side effects include stomach cramps and loose stools if taken to excess.

The key thing to remember is not to go overboard with magnesium, because whilst the right amount can help with heart palpitations, if you really overdid things you could trigger an irregular heartbeat, so it’s extremely important to stick to the upper daily recommended limit of 350mg. (Source)

Best Types Of Magnesium Supplements

Which magnesium supplement is best depends on what you are taking it for.

Magnesium citrate can be a good option for constipation and headaches, whereas magnesium glycinate can help you to rest and recover.

Either way, both of these forms of magnesium are better than magnesium oxide which is poorly absorbed and may cause laxative effects.

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