Magnesium Supplement Buying Guide

What is the best magnesium supplement? 

As one of the most popular supplements on the market, choosing a magnesium supplement can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many different types of magnesium with many different deliveries from powder, pills, capsules, oils and balms and it’s hard to know what’s best.

When it comes to making a decision, the main things to consider are the delivery method of magnesium, the form of the magnesium, the dosage, the price and to be aware of any additional ingredients that might be harmful such as fillers, artificial colours, sweeteners and flavours.

Essentially there are two methods of taking a magnesium supplement, orally and topically.

Oral Magnesium

Perhaps the most common form of any supplement is in the form of a tablet, capsule or powder. There are many types of magnesium supplement that can be taken both pure magnesium and as part of general vitamin supplements or other supplementary products.

There are a handful of different types of magnesium that one should be made aware of and know that not all magnesium is created equal. Depending upon the symptoms you wish to address from general magnesium levels to a specific disorder it is worthwhile knowing the differences.

Topical Magnesium

Topical magnesium is absorbed through the skin and is generally used to target specific areas and muscles. Three types of topical magnesium supplements are widely used, oils, creams and salts.

Magnesium Oils and Creams

Magnesium oils and creams are the rub in forms of a magnesium supplement. For those who have digestive issues, magnesium oils and creams are often the preferred choice of supplement. The oils and creams are absorbed through the skin and make their way into the small intestines. One minor side-effect is an itchiness or skin irritation for some people.


Epsom Salts is one of the oldest ways to get a magnesium boost, as well as some other essential minerals. One of the biggest mistakes made with Epsom Salts is in using it too sparingly and not giving it time to absorb. Taken in a bath of hot water using Epsom Salts as a magnesium supplement can be very relaxing. As with the magnesium oils and creams, some people find their skin is irritated after a bath and thus they result to using less and thus reduce some of the irritation and at the same time reduce the benefits. 


All different forms of magnesium do not always work the same and are regarded as very different. They all vary in terms of what the magnesium molecule is bound to, which affects the absorption rate and other potential therapeutic benefits they might have.

Type of Magnesium

There are over 20 different types of magnesium you might encounter in a supplement. Some of the best and well researched forms of magnesium include:

Magnesium Glycinate

This is a common form of magnesium found in quality supplements and is best for anyone with a deficiency or just maintaining a healthy level of magnesium. Well absorbed and easy on the digestive system.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate offers one of the best absorption rates and is reasonably priced. It consists of magnesium bound with citric acid making it water soluble and very well absorbed.

Magnesium Malate

For those with Fibromyalgia, muscle pain, and low energy this form of magnesium is highly recommended.

Magnesium Taurate or Magnesium Orotate

For those with cardiovascular issues, this form of magnesium is recommended. However, in heart related disorders it is always recommended to get medical advice before taking any supplement.

Magnesium Theronate

This form of magnesium is most suited for those with neurological and cognitive symptoms. Again, with any disorder it is recommended to seek professional medical advice before taking any supplement, especially when on medication.

A few more include magnesium:

  • Sulfate
  • Aspartate
  • Oxide
  • Acetate
  • Carbonate
  • Chloride
  • Hydroxide
  • Lactate
  • Phosphate
  • Gluconate

Not all magnesium is created equal. What separates all these types of magnesium is the molecule it is bound to or chelated with. In nature, magnesium is prone to bond with other elements and molecules which can impact the magnesium absorption and also have their own therapeutic benefits.

Magnesium Chelates – These are forms of magnesium that are chemically bound to another molecule that make the magnesium more likely to survive the trip from the stomach to the small intestine. Magnesium chelates have the potential to offer far greater absorption rates with the right molecules. With so many forms of magnesium supplements out there it can be hard to know which one is best for you.

Magnesium Malate for example is a magnesium molecule bound to malic acid, magnesium citrate is bound to citric acid, magnesium glycinate is bound to glycine and so on. These binders such as malic acid can harm or help you in their own ways. Magnesium malate is generally regarded as a good form due to its high absorption rates and because of the benefits associated with malic acid such as improved energy, exercise endurance and helping to fight fatigue.

Absorption rate plays a large role in choosing the right magnesium. You want a form that your body can actually absorb and use. Normal absorption rates for magnesium vary between 4% and 60% depending on the form. Magnesium oxide for example has an absorption rate of approximately 4% compared to magnesium citrates 30%. Therefore, if you’re reading a label and see a product to contain 500mg of magnesium, if that’s magnesium oxide you’re looking at about 10mg of magnesium absorbed compared to 100mg if it’s magnesium citrate. This is an example of how you can’t just rely on the amount of magnesium shown on the label.

Poorly absorbed magnesium’s include magnesium oxide, gluconate, sulfate, aspartate and carbonate.

When choosing which form of magnesium to supplement with you need to know what your aim is. If you’re magnesium deficient and are looking to rectify a long-term deficiency you’ll want to start with a form that can give you adequate doses at a reasonable price such as a powder. If you’re good with capsules, they’re another good option.

If your digestion isn’t functioning properly, you’ll want to avoid hard packed pills as they won’t break down as well for optimal absorption as a powder or powdered capsule would.

Oils and creams are a good way to target some magnesium into a muscle to help it relax.

If you’re taking a daily powder, make sure to check what additional ingredients you’re getting. You don’t want any artificial sweeteners, flavours, preservatives or anything potentially detrimental to your health.

Magnesium Information

For more everything you need to know about magnesium and magnesium supplements, check out our comprehensive information page here.

Magnesium Information


We’ve created a magnesium supplement with a combination of three types of highly absorbable magnesium at a therapeutic dose. Our magnesium comes as an easy to mix, great tasting powder to ensure optimal absorption. To learn more about our magnesium, check out the product page here.

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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM

Dr Ron Goedeke, specialises in alternative and functional medicine. He is a foundation member of the New Zealand college of Appearance medicine and has been a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine since 1999. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.

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