Magnesium Glycinate: Benefits, Side Effects and Uses
Magnesium, an essential mineral the body needs to function, can be found in various forms, including magnesium glycinate, oxide, citrate and chloride, among others. Each form of magnesium comes with its own slate of purported effects. Magnesium glycinate, like most other forms, can help increase magnesium levels in the blood, aiding a variety of health complications from migraine headaches to high blood pressure.
Keep reading to learn more about this supplement, including its potential benefits, uses and side effects.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a macromineral, which is an essential type of mineral that the body needs to function properly. It’s a necessary nutrient for multiple body processes including the functioning of your muscular, nervous and cardiovascular systems. It’s also essential for bone development/maintenance and for the synthesis of DNA, RNA and glutathione.
“Without [magnesium], your body will break down,” says Ahmad Nooristani, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician based in southern California.
Magnesium is found in a range of foods, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, chocolate, cocoa and soy.
What is Magnesium Glycinate?
Magnesium glycinate is a compound formed by combining magnesium and glycine, an amino acid with sleep-promoting effects.
Out of all the magnesium supplements available on the market, many consider magnesium glycinate to be one of the most tolerated forms of magnesium supplementation. “it is one of the most absorbable forms and least likely to cause digestive or laxative effects,” explains Brett Sorel, a Florida-based integrative registered dietitian nutritionist. “The glycine is what makes this form of magnesium more absorbable with less digestive effects.
How Magnesium Glycinate Can Aid In Magnesium Insufficiency?
Each day, the body loses magnesium due to normal processes like sweating and hormonal changes, as well as healthy kidney function. Magnesium insufficiency has been shown to be prevalent in nearly half of the U.S. population, per the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The groups often most affected by these deficiencies are men older than 70 years of age and teenage girls and boys.
Magnesium insufficiency over time can be detrimental to health if it is not treated. While increasing dietary intake is preferred, use of magnesium supplements is often recommended.
A magnesium glycinate supplement is a beneficial solution for magnesium deficiencies/insufficiencies due to particular absorbability, says Dr. Nooristani.
Populations most at risk for a magnesium insufficiency include individuals with gastrointestinal disorders (such as Crohn’s disease), individuals with type 2 diabetes, individuals with alcohol dependence, and older adults in general.
Magnesium Glycinate Benefits
If your physician has noted a low serum magnesium level or a deficiency, they will most likely recommend a supplement like magnesium glycinate. This supplement typically comes in pill, powder or liquid form.
Magnesium glycinate has many potential benefits, suggests Dr. Nooristani, including:
- Helping calm and relax the body
- Promoting healthy protein and DNA synthesis
- Boosting the immune system
- Creating an anti-inflammatory effect
Who Should Take Magnesium Glycinate?
Magnesium glycinate can support the treatment of various health challenges. Sorel suggests that magnesium glycinate can benefit some individuals with the following chronic latent symptoms:
- Suboptimal serum magnesium levels (<0.85 mmol/L, 2.07 mg/dL, or 1.7 mEq/L)
- Stress and anxiety
Additionally, magnesium glycinate “is especially suitable for those who may be more sensitive to other forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate, which can have a laxative effect,” explains Dr. Nooristani.
While possibly helpful when recommended by a doctor, it’s important to note that magnesium glycinate is not a substitute for prescribed medications.
Magnesium Glycinate Side Effects
While most healthy individuals should be able to tolerate magnesium glycinate when taken at the proper dosage, there are a few potential side effects.
Some of the less severe side effects include stomach upset and other “mild gastrointestinal symptoms,” notes Dr. Nooristani. However, taking too much of the supplement may lead serious symptoms such as:
- Kidney issues
It’s always best to speak with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) about proper dosage, and it’s essential to follow dosing on the label of any supplement carefully.
When to talk to a Doctor?
If you’re currently on antibiotics or other medications, you should consult with a doctor or pharmacist before taking magnesium glycinate. They can provide further explanation on how the magnesium may interact with these medications and how it’ll affect absorption.
For example, taking way too much magnesium glycinate while you’re on blood pressure medication could drop your blood pressure to a level that may cause you to pass out, notes Dr. Nooristani.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor if you have a preexisting health condition, explains Dr. Nooristani. Your provider can help monitor your body’s “interaction” with the supplement and offer guidance on how/when to properly take magnesium glycinate.
While a healthy kidney is capable of excreting excess magnesium, a damaged kidney may not have this same advantage. Thus, individuals with heart or kidney problems (e.g., chronic kidney disease) should especially get approval from their provider before using the supplement.
If you have an existing magnesium deficiency or diet alone can’t give your body the sufficient supplementation it needs, consider consulting with a doctor about adding a magnesium glycinate supplement to your diet. Your provider can offer suggestions on the best supplement tailored to your needs.