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Magnesium Mastery: finding your perfect blend with functional medicine

Updated: Mar 13

Which magnesium salt is the right one for me?

Inorganic salts include, for example, magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride, magnesium phosphate and magnesium carbonate. Organic compounds include magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium malate and magnesium gluconate. The individual magnesium salts mentioned have different properties and provide different amounts of magnesium as a salt. For example, the percentage of magnesium bound in magnesium carbonate is twice as high as in magnesium citrate. On the other hand, the organic salts offer better bioavailability, meaning they are more easily absorbed by the intestine and can therefore enter the bloodstream more easily. Inorganic magnesium salts, on the other hand, are often excreted more in the stool. In functional medicine, it is therefore important to find a mixture of the various magnesium compounds which, on the one hand, provides sufficient magnesium and, on the other hand, also ensures good utilization of the mineral. The pH value in the digestive tract also has a say and influences magnesium utilization. As different pH values can be found along our digestive system (for example, the stomach has a significantly more acidic environment than the small or large intestine, with the large intestine being more acidic than the small intestine), it is advisable to use different magnesium compounds to enable optimum utilization of the magnesium. It also makes sense to combine magnesium compounds with vitamin D, as there is a close relationship between the two micronutrients and a deficiency of one of the two vital substances can lead to a deficiency of the other.

Magnesium compounds have many "faces"

At this point, however, it may be interesting to take a closer look at the individual magnesium compounds. Magnesium citrate contains magnesium as a salt of citric acid. This compound has the advantage that the mineral is absorbed quickly and is particularly recommended when the mineral needs to be "on hand" especially quickly (e.g. during sport, stress, heavy physical and/or mental strain). Magnesium citrate (compared to magnesium oxide or magnesium carbonate) is also easily soluble in a weakly acidic environment, which is why it is particularly suitable for people who suffer from stomach problems (gastritis) or who have to take medication that inhibits the production of stomach acid (proton pump inhibitors).

In magnesium malate, the mineral is present as a salt of malic acid. This magnesium compound is particularly suitable for people suffering from exhaustion and frequent daytime tiredness. Magnesium is also available as a salt of lactic acid(magnesium lactate). This organic magnesium compound is considered to be particularly well tolerated and is therefore of particular interest to people who have a sensitive stomach and/or intestines. Magnesium bisglycinate is sometimes also referred to as magnesium chelate because the mineral is bound to two units of the amino acid glycine, resulting in a complex molecular structure with magnesium as the central atom. This magnesium compound is well absorbed by the intestine and - thanks to its complex structure - is protected as a molecule against aggressive digestive metabolites. The salt is particularly recommended for relaxation and a restful night's sleep. Magnesium gluconate contains magnesium as a salt of gluconic acid. With this compound, magnesium is also offered as a readily bioavailable salt, which is also considered to be well tolerated. According to recent scientific findings, the salt also appears to have a positive influence on the intestine - in particular on the intestinal microbiota.

The inorganic salt magnesium carbonate is produced by combining it with carbonic acid. Magnesium is released less quickly from this compound, but has the advantage that the mineral can be absorbed by the body over a longer period of time. Magnesium oxide is the salt that is formed in reaction with oxygen. This compound is very often used in preparations because, with a high proportion of more than 60%, it supplies a lot of magnesium and can also have a positive effect on sluggish, sluggish digestion, among other things.


If you want to find out how your magnesium levels are, I advice taking a full blood mineral analysis test, which also takes the intracellular magnesium into account.

Working with a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath will help to determine which kind of magnesium salt and the amount to take.

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