Differences Between Magnesium Chelates and Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium is essential for heart, muscle and nerve function, for a healthy immune system, to balance blood sugar and for strong bones. If you are considering magnesium supplementation, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first. Magnesium supplementation may be contraindicated with certain conditions such as kidney disease or heart disease or when taking certain medications. Supplements come in many forms, including magnesium chelate and magnesium citrate.

Correcting a magnesium deficiency can cure insomnia. (Image: Erik Snyder/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Low Magnesium Levels

According to a 2005 study conducted using national nutrition survey data from 1999 to 2000, 68 percent of Americans consumed less than the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium. Deficiency of the mineral has been associated with 100 conditions and symptoms including but not limited to constipation, insomnia, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, Type 2 diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, cardiovascular disease, migraines and premature aging.

How Much Magnesium

The RDA for adults is 320 to 400 milligrams. Magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, legumes including peanuts, and black and kidney beans. Pumpkin seeds and nuts like almonds are good sources of magnesium, as are whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal and fortified cereals. Only 30 to 40 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed by body. While you can meet your magnesium needs through diet, your doctor or a registered dietitian may recommend supplements.

Choose Chelated Magnesium for High Absorption

Chelated magnesium is a form of the mineral that is well-absorbed and has a high bioavailability. "Chelated" basically means the magnesium is preattached to an amino acid carrier. Glycine is the smallest amino acid commonly found chelated to magnesium, making magnesium glycinate easiest to absorb and thus the ideal form of the nutrient for those attempting to correct a deficiency. Other forms of chelated magnesium include magnesium lysinate, magnesium orotate and magnesium taurate.

Magnesium Citrate for Constipation

Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid. This version of the mineral is useful due to its laxative effect and can be used to treat occasional constipation. It appears to work as a saline laxative that draws fluid into the small intestine. It usually stimulates a bowel movement somewhere between 30 minutes and three hours after ingestion. Magnesium citrate also comes in capsule, powder and liquid form. Abdominal discomfort, cramps, gas or nausea may occur. Report the persistence or worsening of any of these symptoms to your physician promptly.

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