Better Sleep,  Supplements

Magnesium Glycinate vs. Magnesium Oxide – Which is Better?

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Magnesium is essential to many functions of the body including protein synthesis, blood sugar control, energy production. It also supports healthy teeth, calcium absorption, and even helps maintain mood.

So if you aren’t getting enough Magnesium in your diet or aren’t reaching recommended daily values for other reasons, taking a Magnesium supplement can help replenish deficiencies.

But before you go running to grab the cheapest magnesium supplement on the shelf, it’s important to understand the differences between magnesium types.

When selecting the right magnesium for you, it depends on the problem or issues you’re trying to solve. For instance, you’ll want a different supplement if you’re constipated compared to if you are taking magnesium to reduce anxiety and stress.

What is the difference between Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Oxide?

When reading magnesium supplement labels you’ll find that “magnesium” is always followed by another label such as “oxide”, “glycinate”, or “citrate”. This is because magnesium as a molecule is not stable by itself so it needs to be bound to another molecule.

The magnesium molecule is always the same but what it’s produced leads to the different names. But it’s more than just a name these different types offer varying benefits and some have tradeoffs too.

Magnesium Oxide is a smaller molecule so you can consume a greater amount but it isn’t absorbed by the body well. This often leads to a laxative effect, making it a great option for constipation.

On the other hand, Magnesium Glycinate is larger by volume so you’ll be consuming less magnesium per mg. But it has a stronger bioavailability so you’ll still absorb more compared to magnesium oxide. Magnesium Glycinate is a better option for reducing stress and anxiety.

So between Magnesium Oxide and Magnesium Glycinate, which is better? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you need help going #2, go with Magnesium Oxide. But if you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, Magnesium Glycinate is the better option.

Comparing magnesium oxide to magnesium glycinate

What is Magnesium Oxide?

Magnesium oxide is a compound that occurs in nature but it can also be made by burning magnesium with oxygen. It has the highest amount of elemental magnesium by weight but it’s not absorbed well by the body.

This type of magnesium is often used as an antacid, to help with constipation and other digestive issues but it may not be the best option to replenish magnesium levels or correct deficiencies. You’ll find magnesium oxide in laxative products such as Milk of Magnesia.

Despite its lackluster performance you still find magnesium oxide in supplements largely due to its low cost. You’ll find this magnesium in low-quality daily vitamins and health supplements.

What is Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate is magnesium combined with an amino acid called glycine. It’s a larger molecule so you’ll have less magnesium by weight, but it absorbs well. Sorta the opposite of magnesium oxide. Also, glycine is a neurotransmitter that can help increase the calming and relaxing effects of magnesium.

This form of magnesium is less likely to cause the laxative effect you’ll get with magnesium oxide.

Magnesium glycinate is a go-to option for those struggling with chronic stress, anxiety, and insomnia. It will likely cost more than magnesium oxide but it’s well worth the added cost to see desired results. It’s also a plus it won’t send you running to the bathroom.

Take a look at our article on the best magnesium glycinate supplements to see our favorite picks.

Am I Getting Enough Magnesium?

While supplementing magnesium can be a fast way to replenish magnesium in the body, it’s certainly not the only way to bring your body back into balance.

Diet – Most people aren’t consuming enough magnesium in their diets. Reach for foods that can help boost your daily intake. This includes spinach, avocado, almonds, cashews, black beans, bananas, dark chocolate, and more.

Drinking Alcohol strips the body of precious vitamins and minerals. Excessive drinking can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Consider slowing down alcohol consumption.

Gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can lead to magnesium deficiencies. If you struggle with these types of disorders, your body may not be getting enough magnesium.

How to Know if You Have a Magnesium Deficiency.

While it’s rather rare to be diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency, one study found that 3/4 of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. So perhaps you’re not consuming enough on a daily basis, how do you know if it’s really an issue?

Here are some of the most common signs that may indicate a magnesium deficiency:

  • Muscle twitching and cramps
  • Mental disorders
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

In Closing

There are far too many magnesium oxide supplements on the market today. Many people are taking mag oxide thinking it’s being absorbed and it’s helping their anxiety, leg cramps, or other issues. But the reality is that these low-cost supplements aren’t doing much more than making you use the bathroom more. No thanks.

I prefer to pay a few extra bucks to get high-quality supplements that use magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. Your body will absorb more, increasing the chances of getting the desired benefits.

Marc is the creator of Mindful Searching, a content site dedicated to providing actionable, unbiased tips to reduce anxiety, stress, and improve cognitive performance. He's struggled with social anxiety for many years. Over the last 5 years, Marc has been researching and testing lifestyle changes, products, and techniques to build a happier, healthier, anxiety-free life.

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