13 Types of Magnesium for Stress Relief, Constipation, Energy, Sleep, and More

Key Points:

  • Due to mineral depletion in our soils, less nutrient-dense food, and the high demand for magnesium from our bodies, just about everyone needs more of this essential macromineral.

  • But when it comes to magnesium supplements, there are many different types to choose from, and each have slightly different effects and bioavailability.

  • If you’re looking for a good general magnesium, mag citrate, mag bicarbonate, and mag bisglycinate are all good options. Scroll down to our chart below for quick details on the different types of magnesium and their effects.

Magnesium is one of the most critical nutrients you can supply your body, full stop. 

This macromineral supports a healthy stress response, adrenal function, GI motility, nervous system health, muscle relaxation, and so much more. Magnesium is also responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. As a result of these effects, having enough magnesium generally means you feel balanced, capable, and centered. 

Here’s the thing — on a cellular level, most people are magnesium insufficient, if not outright deficient. 

Why? The stress response depletes magnesium in the body like nobody’s business. And who among us isn’t stressed for at least some part of the day, or even a large part of the day? On top of that, our typical food sources of magnesium — leafy greens, salmon, pumpkin seeds and more — are often lacking minerals due to soil depletion and conventional farming methods. 

So diet isn’t enough to meet your magnesium needs. Enter, supplements. But wait a second: there’s magnesium citrate, malate, glycinate, L-threonate… which one are you supposed to take? It might seem a little overwhelming at first, but the different types of magnesium supplements actually target different health issues, like poor sleep, stress, constipation, and more. Let’s break down the different types of magnesium and which ones might be best for you. 

Table of Contents:

Different Magnesium Types

Here are the main types of magnesium you should know about: 

  1. Magnesium citrate: A pretty standard and lower cost form of magnesium, bound to citric acid. Often found in low quality supplements mixed with unnecessary binders and additives. However, it can be good for those with digestive issues and migraines. 
  2. Magnesium oxide: You’ll also tend to find magnesium oxide in some lower quality supplements and as an over-the-counter laxative. Magnesium oxide can be pretty harsh on the gut, so dose carefully if you decide to use it. But if constipation is an issue for you, mag oxide may be just the ticket. Pair with another type of magnesium for better systemic bioavailability. 
  3. Magnesium sulfate: More commonly known as Epsom salts. Magnesium sulfate promotes muscle relaxation and general calm. Great if you like a soothing bath or footbath in the evenings, and great for kids who don’t like oral supplements. 
  4. Magnesium chloride: A salt form of magnesium often found in liquid and topical applications, such as oil spray or lotion. This is the type of magnesium we use in our Liquid Magnesium drops.
  5. Magnesium glycinate: Magnesium combined with glycine, known to be one of the more calming forms of magnesium intended to promote sleep and nervous system regulation. 
  6. Magnesium bisglycinate: Good all rounder, a calming form of magnesium with great bioavailability and does not have a laxative effect. Can be good for those with digestion issues since it doesn’t need stomach acid to absorb. 
  7. Magnesium malate: Mag malate is one of the few more energizing forms of magnesium for those with fatigue or wanting energy support pre-workout. 
  8. Magnesium L-threonate: This is an exciting one. Magnesium L-threonate is a newer form of magnesium that promotes cognitive health, focus, and mood. Great for those with mental health concerns or anyone doing a lot of studying! Even promotes neuroplasticity. 
  9. Magnesium bicarbonate: Bubbly magnesium! This form is great for kids or anyone who would rather drink their magnesium than take a pill. Can be expensive though.
  10. Magnesium taurate: Magnesium + taurine, an amino acid. Recommended for heart health, blood sugar support, and general calm. 
  11. Magnesium orotate: Another type of magnesium recommended for heart health. 
  12. Magnesium lysinate: Promotes gastric health and also has good bioavailability
  13. Magnesium aspartate: Magnesium for cellular energy and all around health. Less common on its own and usually found in combination magnesium supplements.

Types of Magnesium Chart

Magnesium Type

Uses & Notes

Magnesium citrate

General, digestion, migraines, calm

Magnesium oxide

Laxative, very low systemic absorption

Magnesium sulfate

Epsom salts. Muscle relaxation, calm

Magnesium chloride

Liquid/topical magnesium salt. Skin, calm, digestion, general.

Magnesium glycinate

Bioavailability, mood, sleep, calm

Magnesium bisglycinate

General, bioavailability, mood, sleep, nervous system, no laxative effect

Magnesium malate

Energizing, stimulates ATP production

Magnesium L-threonate

Brain health, nervous system, learning, concentration

Magnesium bicarbonate

Mixed in water to create a bubbly solution, good general magnesium

Magnesium taurate

Heart health, general calm, blood sugar regulation

Magnesium orotate

Heart health, general health

Magnesium lysinate

Gastric health, muscle relaxation, nerve health

Magnesium aspartate

Cellular energy, all around health

What type of magnesium should I take?

We need magnesium for lots of reasons, but there are some types of magnesium that tend to work better for certain conditions or health issues. However, that doesn’t mean that another type of magnesium won’t also have some effect on that condition. 

For example, magnesium L-threonate is great for brain health, but that doesn’t mean it won’t also help keep your gut motility flowing (especially because of the brain-gut connection!). So, don’t be afraid to try different types of magnesium and find one that works best for you. 

Best type of magnesium for constipation

If you have constipation and you’re not taking magnesium at all, pretty much any type of magnesium is going to help with this issue, but there are some stand out choices. 

Like we mentioned before, magnesium oxide can be a bit intense on the gut, so use with caution. But if you have severe constipation, it’s worth a try. However, constipation can also be caused by a dysfunctional vagus nerve, so magnesium L-threonate or magnesium glycinate could also be good options.

Best type of magnesium for sleep

Magnesium glycinate is likely going to be your friend if you’re looking for support in getting a restful night's sleep. Glycine is a well known calming amino acid, combining it with magnesium is like double the calm to your nervous system. That said, magnesium bisglycinate and magnesium citrate can also be good options for sleep support. 

Just stay away from magnesium malate in the evening since it can have an energizing effect. 

Best type of magnesium for stress relief

Magnesium in general is essential for nervous system health and adrenal health, so you could argue that any type of magnesium (except magnesium oxide, which has very low bioavailability and is really only good as a laxative) is helpful for stress relief. But our top picks would be magnesium glycinate, magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), and magnesium L-threonate, especially for mental/emotional stress. 

Best type of magnesium for general health

Don’t have a specific health concern, but want to keep your magnesium stores tip top? Magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, and magnesium bicarbonate will all do the trick. Each of these come in different forms (powder vs. capsules vs. liquid), so it really depends on personal preference and budget from there. But who doesn’t want more energy (try malate) or brain power (L-threonate)? Feel free to experiment with different forms of magnesium to find the one that suits your body best.

Pro tip: You need magnesium to absorb, activate, and retain vitamin D, so if you’re struggling to increase your vitamin D levels, magnesium can help! 

Best magnesium supplements

Magnesium is also one of those supplements that comes in just about any form you want to take: capsules, tablets, liquid, powder, even topical lotion or oil. The best form for you really comes down to personal preference and what you will remember to take every day. Just keep an eye out for extra fillers and additives present in so many (cheap) supplements. Epsom salts are also great to have on hand for general relaxation and relief for sore muscles. 

BodyBio Liquid Magnesium is made of magnesium chloride and is super easy to add to water or any beverage of your choice. Unless you have too much magnesium (which is unlikely), you either won’t taste Liquid Magnesium at all, or it will be slightly sweet when mixed with plain water. 

When it comes to minerals, our sense of taste operates as a gauge for how much of that mineral we need to consume, so that’s why the taste varies slightly. If you do have too much magnesium for whatever reason, the taste will be unpleasant — telling you to stop consuming extra magnesium for now. Again, due to magnesium’s high demand and use in the body, this is highly unlikely to occur. 

We Could All Use a Little More Magnesium 

There are many different types of magnesium, but the most important thing is to make sure you’re getting some form of magnesium daily to prevent magnesium deficiency or insufficiency. Similar to vitamin D, you’re unlikely to get enough magnesium from food alone, so a supplement is a good idea for most people.

Learn more about BodyBio E-Lyte, which is the perfect combo of Sodium and Magnesium

References

Classen HG. Magnesium orotate--experimental and clinical evidence. Rom J Intern Med. 2004;42(3):491-501. PMID: 16366126.

Ates, M., Kizildag, S., Yuksel, O., Hosgorler, F., Yuce, Z., Guvendi, G., Kandis, S., Karakilic, A., Koc, B., & Uysal, N. (2019). Dose-Dependent Absorption Profile of Different Magnesium Compounds. Biological trace element research, 192(2), 244–251. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-019-01663-0

Koc, B., Kizildag, S., Hosgorler, F., Gumus, H., Kandis, S., Ates, M., & Uysal, N. (2021). Magnesium Citrate Increases Pain Threshold and Reduces TLR4 Concentration in the Brain. Biological trace element research, 199(5), 1954–1966. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-020-02384-5

Mori, H., Tack, J., & Suzuki, H. (2021). Magnesium Oxide in Constipation. Nutrients, 13(2), 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020421

Dupont, C., & Hébert, G. (2020). Magnesium Sulfate-Rich Natural Mineral Waters in the Treatment of Functional Constipation-A Review. Nutrients, 12(7), 2052. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12072052

Liu, C., Cheng, Y., Guo, Y., & Qian, H. (2021). Magnesium-L-threonate alleviate colonic inflammation and memory impairment in chronic-plus-binge alcohol feeding mice. Brain research bulletin, 174, 184–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2021.06.009

Wang, J., Liu, Y., Zhou, L. J., Wu, Y., Li, F., Shen, K. F., Pang, R. P., Wei, X. H., Li, Y. Y., & Liu, X. G. (2013). Magnesium L-threonate prevents and restores memory deficits associated with neuropathic pain by inhibition of TNF-α. Pain physician, 16(5), E563–E575.

Zhang, C., Hu, Q., Li, S., Dai, F., Qian, W., Hewlings, S., Yan, T., & Wang, Y. (2022). A Magtein®, Magnesium L-Threonate, -Based Formula Improves Brain Cognitive Functions in Healthy Chinese Adults. Nutrients, 14(24), 5235. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14245235

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