Gretchen Lidicker is a writer, researcher, and the author of the books CBD Oil Everyday Secrets and Magnesium Everyday Secrets. She has a degree in biology and a masters in physiology with a concentration in complementary and integrative medicine. She's been featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Forbes, and Travel & Leisure.
If you’re shopping for magnesium products, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. There are dozens of brands and you can find magnesium in a supplement capsule, powder, liquid, gummy, or even as a spray or cream.
But before you go grabbing just anything off the shelf, read on. There’s one magnesium mistake you definitely don’t want to make.
The magnesium mistake everyone’s making
Dive into the health benefits of magnesium and you’ll find more than a few. Magnesium has shown promise for health woes ranging from cramps and headaches to anxiety and constipation. And when you learn that it’s an important cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body — ranging from blood sugar balance to DNA synthesis — its many benefits don’t come as a huge surprise.
Speaking of constipation, here’s where we have to take a pause; because not all types of magnesium will work for constipation. In fact, one form of magnesium — called magnesium glycinate — is often praised as the “gold standard” of magnesium supplements, but it’s actually the worst form for keeping you regular.
People love magnesium glycinate because unlike other forms of magnesium, it won’t cause diarrhea and stomach cramping if you take a lot of it. But if you’re looking for a laxative effect, you actually want to consider a different type of magnesium to help relax the bowels and draw some water into the colon to get you relief.
See where the problem is? Consumers often turn to magnesium to help keep them regular, but then opt for magnesium glycinate because it’s known as the “best” form of magnesium. As you might guess, it doesn’t work since magnesium doesn’t have a laxative effect.
How to choose the right magnesium for constipation
So what type of magnesium should you take for constipation? You have a few to choose from, mainly magnesium oxide, magnesium sulfate, and magnesium citrate. While magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate are cheaper, they’re much more likely to cause stomach cramping and diarrhea than magnesium citrate. In fact, taking magnesium sulfate orally is not recommended at all since according to Cleveland Clinic, it has the potential to cause serious GI symptoms.
In addition, studies have shown that magnesium citrate is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide. Therefore, magnesium citrate is a great option for relieving constipation without accidentally sending yourself running to the bathroom.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for help with ailments like PMS and insomnia, magnesium glycinate has proven to be the best option. If that’s the case, opt for this Thorne Research magnesium glycinate powder from Thorne Research ($40) or these capsules from Pure Encapsulations ($20).
This is a textbook example of why it’s always a good idea to work with a trained professional if you’re using supplements. Just because they’re natural remedies doesn’t mean there is no room for error. Consulting a nutritionist, naturopathic doctor, or even a supplement savvy general practitioner can save you a lot of money and make sure your magnesium exactly does what it’s meant to.