Magnesium Threonate, Malate, Taurate: Each Magnesium Type Explained

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals your body needs to function properly. In fact, magnesium is present in every single cell in your body and used in hundreds of biochemical reactions to keep you healthy. However, even though it’s an important nutrient, many people are not meeting their recommended intake, so you might want to consider taking a magnesium supplement. In this article, we’ll discuss the many different forms of magnesium available and help you determine the right magnesium type for your needs.

Should you take a magnesium supplement?

Dietary magnesium can be found in a variety of foods, including leafy greens, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. However, diet alone might not always be enough to ensure that you’re meeting your body’s magnesium needs.

Surveys conducted around the world have concluded that many populations are not getting enough magnesium to meet their needs. Even in the United States, it’s estimated that almost half of adults aren’t getting enough magnesium.

Specific groups are also especially at risk of magnesium deficiencies, including:

  • People with gastrointestinal diseases that inhibit nutrition absorption
  • People with type 2 diabetes
  • People with alcohol dependence
  • Older adults

Because of this, magnesium supplements are a popular method of increasing your blood magnesium levels. Magnesium supplements are also well-researched, and many scientists and health experts agree that the addition of magnesium to your diet has the potential for a wide range of health benefits, including:

  • Promoting relaxation and sleep
  • Maintaining bone health
  • Reducing migraines and headaches
  • Alleviating symptoms of preeclampsia and premenstrual syndrome
  • Maintaining normal heart rates
  • Treatment for mood disorders like depression and anxiety

The different magnesium types and how they differ

Depending on your current diet and health status, you may need a magnesium supplement to meet your nutritional requirements. However, if you’ve ever tried to shop for magnesium supplements, you’ve probably been met with a ton of different options, which can get confusing.

Here are the key differences between the kinds of magnesium and how they are most commonly used.

Magnesium threonate

Magnesium L-Threonate (magnesium threonate for short) is a synthesized form of magnesium mixed with threonic acid, creating a salt. This form of magnesium is thought to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than other forms of magnesium, which means that it can be used to raise magnesium levels in the brain more quickly.

In addition, some studies have found that magnesium threonate may be useful for enhancing various cognitive functions, including learning and memory. However, these studies have been conducted largely on animal subjects, not humans. One small study on humans found that administration of a 2 grams per day magnesium threonate supplement led to improvements in various memory tests. Still, more research needs to be done here to determine the effects of this supplement on memory and other cognitive functions.

Magnesium malate

Magnesium malate is a combination of magnesium and malic acid, a type of acid found in various fruits and vegetables. Some studies have found that magnesium malate is the most bioavailable form of magnesium compared to others, which means that your body can use more of it than other forms.

Because malic acid is sometimes used to reduce muscle pain and fatigue, magnesium malate is sometimes used for relieving pain in chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. One study found that fibromyalgia patients who were given an oral dosage that included a combination of 300–600 mg magnesium and 1200–2400 mg of malate saw improvements in their reported muscle pain. However, the research here is still fairly inconclusive.

Magnesium taurate

Magnesium taurate is created by bonding magnesium to taurine, an amino acid.

Taurine is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties that are sometimes linked to protection against cardiovascular conditions. As such, a magnesium taurate supplement at doses of around 500–1000 mg a day may be a good option if your goals are to reduce blood pressure and protect against heart disease. There’s also some evidence that magnesium taurate may be helpful for improving blood sugar levels in subjects with diabetes at doses of 250 mg per day.

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is created by bonding magnesium to citric acid, an organic compound often found in citrus fruits. Magnesium citrate is considered one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium supplements.

This form of magnesium is often used as a laxative to relieve constipation since it can increase the amount of water retained in the colon. However, it’s important to note that taking too much magnesium citrate can also be dangerous due to this laxative effect. Take no more than 200–400 mg of magnesium citrate per day until your bowel movements become regular again, and talk to your doctor to determine the right dose for your needs.

Magnesium bisglycinate

Magnesium bisglycinate (sometimes shortened to magnesium glycinate) is a form of chelated magnesium, meaning that it is combined with an amino acid called glycine. Magnesium bisglycinate is most commonly used to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as to promote relaxation. Some case studies have shown rapid improvements in depressive symptoms after administration of 125–300 mg. However, more research needs to be done to determine how magnesium bisglycinate can improve these mental health symptoms on a larger scale.

Magnesium bisglycinate is also easily digestible when compared to other forms, which may make it a better choice for people with sensitive stomachs when comparing forms like magnesium glycinate vs citrate.

Which magnesium form is right for me?

The best form of magnesium for you will depends on your goals.

If your goals are to take magnesium to improve sleep, boost mood and energy levels, and/or improve cognitive functioning, your best bets are:

  • Magnesium bisglycinate
  • Magnesium threonate

If you want to use magnesium as a laxative to promote a healthy and regular digestive system, you may want to use:

  • Magnesium citrate.

If you’re using magnesium to regulate your blood sugar and/or support heart health:

  • Magnesium taurate

If you want to add magnesium to your diet to better manage pain:

  • Magnesium malate

For fighting fatigue and brain fog:

  • Magnesium threonate
  • Magnesium malate

What are normal magnesium levels?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium is:

  • 400–420 mg for adult men
  • 310–320 mg for adult women

Your magnesium needs may also increase if you are pregnant or nursing. For example:

  • Pregnant women should get between 350–400 mg of magnesium per day
  • Lactating women should get between 310-360 mg of magnesium per day

How to know if you have a magnesium deficiency

If you aren’t getting sufficient magnesium in your diet, you may experience some signs of insufficiency, including:

  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Muscle cramping or pain
  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression

At worst, prolonged insufficient levels of magnesium can lead to magnesium deficiency. While rare, magnesium deficiencies can be serious. Some signs of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • nausea, vomiting
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • muscle spasms or tremors
  • weakened bones
  • nervousness
  • bad headaches

If you experience any of these serious symptoms of a magnesium deficiency, you should consult with a doctor immediately to test your magnesium levels and to determine a medical course of action.

Why You Should Consider Taking More Than One Form of Magnesium

Because different magnesium supplements target different health concerns, you might consider taking more than one. For example, if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep but also are dealing with aches and pain, you might consider taking both magnesium bisglycinate for relaxation and magnesium malate for pain relief.

It’s very important to note that you can also overdose on magnesium. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that you don't get more than 350 mg of magnesium a day from supplements. You should also for the amount of magnesium that you may get from food sources. Finally, it’s best to talk to a doctor before starting any dietary supplement to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of nutrients.


Key takeaways:

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Cheryl Wahbah
prefix 11 months ago
Are magnesiun threonine and Magnesium L-Threonate the same thing?