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The many faces of Magnesium: mini-series blog 2

Sunday March 3, 2019
The many faces of Magnesium: mini-series blog 2

In this small series of blogs we discuss the important role of magnesium in the body, the different types of magnesium available, common misunderstandings, 'clean label' magnesium and the different types of delivery method available. In blog 1 we explored the different ways that magnesium is used in the body.


Magnesium is a mineral abundant in the earth’s crust and so, prevalent in plants grown in fertile soils. In this form the natural plant composition maintains magnesium stability, however once magnesium is extracted from its source it becomes instable.  Here, chelation is implemented to stabilise the mineral.  Chelation is the binding of a mineral to another compound; for example; Magnesium Citrate is a stable magnesium salt made from manipulating magnesium and citric acid to bind.  

Several magnesium chelates are approved for use in the EU, the table below defines the approved forms.  In addition, there are several forms that are not permitted for EU manufacture.

 EU permitted forms of magnesium in food supplements EU non-permitted forms of magnesium
 Magnesium Ascorbate Magnesium Orotate
 Magnesium Bisglycinate Magnesium Threonate 
 Magnesium Carbonate 
 Magnesium Chloride 
 Magnesium Citrate 
  Magnesium Malate 
 Magnesium Oxide 
 Magnesium Sulphate 
 Magnesium Taurate 
Table 1; EU permitted and non-permitted Magnesium chelates.

It is not just the forms of magnesium that cause confusion but also the delivery mechanism.  A visit to your local independent health store will show you magnesium food supplements, oral sprays, bath salts and topical products.

An absorbing story: With such a variety of magnesium chelates on offer, it can be overwhelming to choose a product best suited to your needs.

Firstly, magnesium absorption is led by the existing level of magnesium in the body, and so, the greater the depletion, the greater the rate of absorption in the body’s clever attempt to maintain health.  Magnesium levels are regulated by the kidneys and so excess is excreted in the urine[4].


Furthermore, certain foodstuffs can improve or hinder magnesium absorption, for example; it is known that magnesium alongside fructose rich foods (such as fruit) or proteins can improve absorption, yet foods rich in cellulose or phytates (certain legumes and nuts) hinder magnesium absorption[5]. 

Research has investigated the absorption rates of magnesium chelates in patients with magnesium deficiency related health conditions to ascertain the rates of absorption.  However, magnesium absorption is influenced by the current magnesium status and so people with magnesium deficiency will absorb and utilise a greater amount than those with a replete status.  A further factor to consider is the state of the intestines, as poor intestinal health will hinder the rate and ability to absorb.

In our next blog in this series we will focus on a form of magnesium that is the subject of some controversy...


Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is currently studying for MRES in Public Health.



[4] Jahnen-Dechent, W., & Ketteler, M., 2012, Magnesium basics. Clin. Kidney J. 5(Suppl. 1):i3–i14.

[5] Gröber, U., et al’ 2015, Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy. Nutrients. 23;7(9):8199-226. 


 The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: Nutrition News and ViewsEnergy, Fatigue


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