Magnesium Supplements: Not all are created equal

Magnesium is arguably one of the most important nutrients that you can supplement. Magnesium is an essential mineral, meaning that is required for crucial bodily functions and is not produced or synthesized by the body. Therefore, it is necessary to acquire magnesium through diet and supplementation. Even though I am a guy who sells supplements for a living, I always point out that the best place to get your nutrition is via a good diet. However it simply difficult to acquire enough magnesium from diet alone to stay optimized. This is why approximately 80% of the population is deficient in magnesium and why magnesium supplementation is so important.

The typical adult male should get around 400 mg of magnesium in their daily diet and supplementation regimen. Magnesium deficiency has significant health consequences. First, magnesium deficiency is a common cause of lethargy and depression. If someone frequently fatigued and lacks energy and motivation, a savvy doctor will often take a blood test, recognize a magnesium deficiency, and prescribe a magnesium supplement with great effectiveness. Numerous academic and empirical studies in the past ten years have drawn a direct correlation between Magnesium deficiency and depression.  

Other consequences of Magnesium deficiency include:

  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tooth cavities
  • The inability to absorb other nutrients, including potassium, calcium, vitamin B1 and vitamin K.

Hopefully, the importance of maintaining a healthy magnesium level is abundantly clear. On to the challenge of acquiring enough magnesium. And it can be a challenge. Part of the reason it is so challenging is the absorption rate (the % your body can absorb and use). Food is the best place to acquire Magnesium, but even with a healthy diet of whole foods, the magnesium absorption rate is often only in the 20-50% range. So if your body quires 400 mg per day to stay optimized, and at best absorbs 50% of the magnesium acquired from food, that means you need to eat 800 mg per day. Leafy green vegetables are the most potent dietary source of magnesium – spinach is one of the best. But a cup of spinach only contains around 150 mg. Lean red meat is a decent source as well. But your typical serving of steak only contains around 60 mg. This is where supplementation becomes beneficial. 

However, not all magnesium supplements are created equal. In fact, I would argue that a significant number of the magnesium supplements you find are worthless. These supplements use magnesium oxide as the magnesium source. Magnesium oxide is inexpensive and takes up less volume than many other types of magnesium, which is why it’s used by so many supplement brands. But the absorption rate of magnesium oxide is a dismal 4%... almost none of the magnesium can be absorbed by your body. The rest of it simply passes through your system. Magnesium can have a laxative effect, but the pass-through effect of magnesium oxide can really have you running for the bathroom. Magnesium oxide is worthless as a source of supplemental magnesium with undesirable side effects.

When shopping for an effective magnesium supplement, there is a handful with high absorption rates. Three are at the top of my list: magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium malate. The exact absorption rate can vary by individual and by dietary factors, but compared to the 4% absorption rate of magnesium oxide, the potential absorption rates of these supplements are stellar:

  • Magnesium citrate: 90%
  • Magnesium glycinate: 80%
  • Magnesium malate: 70%

(Source: Daniel J CrisafiNDAMHPhD)

Our flagship supplement, Made Man 360, contains 425 mg of magnesium citrate. That means that even if your diet was nearly devoid of Magnesium, you could absorb as much as 380 to 400 mg from taking a Made Man 360 pack once a day.

One last word on the potential risks of consuming excessive amounts of magnesium… If someone ate a healthy, magnesium-rich diet and also absorbed 380 mg of magnesium every day from Made Man 360, their average daily consumption could easily exceed 400 mg, the recommended daily allowance for an adult male. This is perfectly fine, if not optimal. While there can be undesirable effects from consuming too much magnesium (namely diarrhea, nausea, and low blood pressure), the kidneys are highly effective at removing excess magnesium from the body. If a person has normally functioning kidneys, the risk of a magnesium overdose is extremely low.

Prior to beginning any new supplement regimen, it is best to confer with your physician. Generally speaking, most every man and women will benefit from magnesium supplementation. Just be aware when looking for an effective magnesium supplement that they are far from created equal!