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Magnesium Supplements – How to Chose the Best

(Patrick Sullivan Jr. is President of JigSaw Health, a leading formulator of Magnesium supplements)

You may already know about the risks and symptoms of magnesium deficiency — heart attacks, high blood pressure, aching muscles, migraines, etc. — and the almost limitless benefits of magnesium supplementation.  But how do you choose the best magnesium supplement to buy?

What Forms of Magnesium are Available?

It’s important to note first off that magnesium supplements use different types of magnesium.  Some use “magnesium chloride”, others use “magnesium citrate”, and so on.  Without delving too deep into the science between the different forms of magnesium, a good rule of thumb is that if the form ends in “-ide”, it’s less tolerable and less absorbable than if it ends with “-ate”.

Therefore, magnesium oxide (by far the most common in magnesium supplements) is not nearly as good for you as magnesium taurate, citrate, malate, etc.

That being said, the delivery mechanism is likely more important than the form of magnesium.

What Delivery Mechanisms are Available?

1) Magnesium tablets & capsules

  • Pros – Easy to swallow, widely varying price range, widely varying brands to choose from, no preparation required.
  • Cons – Usually have to take 2 – 4 capsules or tablets to reach the recommended dose, which can be a lot if you’re not used to taking pills.

2) Magnesium powder & salt

  • Pros – Stirred into water or tea, very rapidly ingested into GI tract.  Put into a bath, the magnesium absorbs rapidly into the skin.
  • Cons – Preparation required, over-dosing can cause diarrhea, not many brands available, some online reviews complain about the taste (of powder).

3) Magnesium oils and sprays

  • Pros – Bypasses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and absorbs directly into the bloodstream.
  • Cons – Relatively expensive, relatively time consuming, some online reviews complain of a slight burning sensation on their skin.

4) Magnesium water

  • Pros – No preparation required, highly absorbable.
  • Cons – Relatively expensive, over-dosing can cause diarrhea, not many brands available.

Why Do Some Magnesium Supplements Cause Diarrhea?

Magnesium is hydrophilic, which is a fancy word that means it draws water to it.  When magnesium enters your GI tract, it begins to draw water into the GI tract.  And your intestines can only hold on to so much water for so long.  (This is basically how Milk of Magnesia works, which is magnesium hydroxide powder.)

There is a delivery mechanism that won’t cause diarrhea, even at high-doses.  It’s called “sustained release” magnesium tablets.

3 Reasons To Consider Sustained Release Technology Magnesium Tablets

1) No diarrhea side effects

Because sustained release magnesium tablets literally slow down the release of magnesium as the tablets pass through your GI tract, your body can more efficiently absorb and disperse magnesium into the bloodstream towards it’s final destination of cells, muscle tissue, etc.  In the case of non-sustained release pills, powders, and water, you are left to yourself to ensure you don’t over-dose.

And it’s important to note that while all magnesium supplement delivery technologies should support regular, healthy bowel movements, ones that do not deliver the full recommended daily intake (RDI) without causing diarrhea should be avoided, as diarrhea will contribute further to a magnesium deficiency.

2) Easy to use

Sustained release technology is best accomplished through the use of tablets (not capsules) comprised of natural gums (guar gum, xanthan gum, etc.) and materials that break down over time as they travel through the GI tract.  Tablets require no preparation, and therefore, are the easiest for most people to stick with.

In addition, while you could potentially “simulate” sustained release technology by spacing out the ingesting of non-sustained release magnesium pills throughout the day, this is likely to be inefficient for most, and leads to an ineffective magnesium supplementation program.  The beauty of sustained release technology is that you can take all the tablets at once, and the release of magnesium is spread out over several hours.

3) Replenish your magnesium deficiency

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for magnesium is 400mg, as prescribed by the FDA.  And approximately 80% of the US population does not ingest this much magnesium per day.  Simple logic dictates that you must take more than 400mg per day in order to replenish a deficiency.  Yet achieving 400+ mg per day with non-sustained release technology and avoiding the dreaded diarrhea side effect is virtually impossible!

In addition, there are those like Dr. Russell Blaylock — retired neurosurgeon, popular author of several best-selling medical books, and editor of The Blaylock Report — who recommend taking as much as 1000mg of magnesium each day for it’s protective effects on the brain.  Once again, this task is nearly impossible without sustained release technology.


You can almost certainly benefit from adding any magnesium supplement — pills, powder, water, and/or oil — to your daily regime.  It is, as described by Dr. Carolyn Dean and many others, a “miracle mineral.”

However, to get the most efficient absorption to replenish deficiency without the high risk of the diarrhea side effect, you should consider taking a sustained release magnesium supplement.

This post was contributed by Patrick Sullivan Jr., president & co-founder of Jigsaw Health, makers of the popular Jigsaw Magnesium w/SRT (Sustained Release Technology).

Tags: magnesium supplements, magnesium powder reviews, magnesium diarrhea

This entry was posted in Brain, Sleep Disorders, Supplements

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