Health Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate

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Magnesium—which has sometimes been touted as the miracle mineral because it plays a role in so many bodily functions—is one of the most versatile and impactful minerals you can take. From supporting your sleep and your memory to promoting healthy blood pressure and controlling blood sugar, this mineral seems to do it all.

"Magnesium is a busy bee," says Sarah Becker, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Indigo Wellness Group. "It’s the fourth most abundant mineral in our body and responsible for over 300 (some sources say 600!) reactions. Magnesium is critical for thyroid, adrenal and mitochondrial health, energy production, and it supports liver biotransformation, also known as detoxification. I’d put it in the water supply, if I could!"

Yet, more than 50% of Americans do not meet the daily requirement for magnesium, which can put them at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. People who are deficient in magnesium also may experience numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and more.

There are more than 11 forms of magnesium available each with a different role in the body. For instance, magnesium citrate is often used to treat constipation while magnesium malate is sometimes used to reduce pain and soreness—particularly in those with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Meanwhile, magnesium glycinate might be used to reduce stress, promote sleep, and reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.

"Think of magnesium glycinate as the chill-out and relax mineral," says Becker. "[It is also] one of the most absorbable and bioavailable forms."

If your healthcare provider has recommended that you take magnesium glycinate—or you simply want to know more about this unique supplement—keep reading. Below you will find information on what magnesium glycinate is, as well as the health benefits, possible side effects, and what to look for when purchasing it.

Health Benefits of Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate—also known as magnesium bis-glycinate—is a form of magnesium that combines the mineral magnesium and the amino acid glycine, which is the most abundant amino acid in collagen protein, explains Amy Myers, MD, a medical and functional medicine physician that specializes in autoimmune, thyroid, and digestive issues.

"Glycine is needed for deep and restorative sleep and also supports your gut health by rebuilding tissue that keeps bacteria and undigested food particles from entering the bloodstream," Dr. Myers adds. "The magnesium and glycinate combination has good bioavailability, meaning it’s easily absorbed."

What makes magnesium glycinate so unique is that it can benefit your health and well-being in so many diverse ways, she adds. "Magnesium glycinate helps relieve anxiety, promotes bone health, facilitates heart rhythm, and improves athletic performance. [It also] promotes healthy sleep patterns and supports gut health."

Here is a closer look at some of the potential health benefits of magnesium glycinate.

Alleviates Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are a common complaint among pregnant people. But research shows that taking magnesium glycinate may help alleviate their symptoms.

For instance, in one study, 80 pregnant people participated in a double‐blinded, randomized, placebo‐controlled trial in which they took 300 mg of magnesium glycinate daily. At the end of the trial, researchers noted that the frequency of cramping, as well as the intensity of leg cramping, were reduced by 50% when compared to the placebo group.

Of course, if you are pregnant (or nursing) you should check with your healthcare provider before taking magnesium glycinate.

Promotes Healthy Blood Pressure

Some research indicates that supplementing with magnesium can help lower blood pressure in people who are deficient in magnesium. Meanwhile, another study found that those who supplemented with magnesium saw significant improvement in both their systolic and diastolic pressures.

Higher magnesium intake might also reduce the risk of stroke. In one older meta-analysis, researchers found that an additional 100 milligrams a day of magnesium was associated with an 8% decreased risk of stroke.

May Treat or Prevent Migraines

Although studies are limited, there is some research indicating that magnesium can be used to treat or prevent migraines. One possible reason for this is the fact that people who frequently suffer from migraines often have low magnesium levels.

However, because the typical dosage used for migraine prevention exceeds the recommended amount, you should not try to treat your migraines on your own. Talk with a healthcare provider to determine if magnesium supplementation is the right option for treating and preventing your migraines.

May Alleviate the Symptoms of Depression

Depression impacts nearly 18 million people in the U.S. each year. Fortunately, some research indicates that people may be able to find relief with increased magnesium intake, according to one study of 126 adults.

In fact, researchers found that after two weeks of supplementation, the participants reported feeling better. While this study was conducted using magnesium chloride, experts speculate that the same results might be achieved with other forms of magnesium. For instance, an older study found that people who took 125 milligrams to 300 milligrams of magnesium glycinate daily reported feeling better after seven days.

May Curb Feelings of Anxiety

Research indicates that anxiety-related conditions are one of the most common affective disorders in the general population. However, magnesium supplementation may help alleviate some symptoms—particularly in those with mild anxiety, PMS-related anxiety, and anxiety related to postpartum depression.

That said, anxiety can be a particularly concerning mental health condition that should only be treated with the help and oversight of a healthcare professional.

Increases Exercise Performance

Research indicates that physically active people may have higher magnesium requirements than their inactive peers, especially when it comes to exercise and performance. For instance, if you participate in a strength training program but are deficient in magnesium, you may experience decreased endurance and struggle to complete your workout. Conversely, a higher intake of magnesium has been associated with better performance particularly during aerobic activities.

Assists With Blood Sugar Control

If you have pre-diabetes or you are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider about magnesium supplementation. In fact, a study in the journal, Diabetes Care, found that increased magnesium consumption can offset the risks for developing type 2 diabetes.

Research has also shown that eating foods high in magnesium—like whole grains, beans, nuts, and green leafy vegetables—may also play a role in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is largely due to the fact that magnesium can help break down sugar.

Helps Manage Premenstrual Syndrome

Research has demonstrated that taking 250 milligrams of magnesium glycinate a day may help manage premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In fact, in one double-blinded placebo-controlled trial, magnesium was combined with vitamin B6 to manage symptoms. The researchers found a decrease in uncomfortable symptoms.

Increases Bone Density

Magnesium plays an important role in bone health and formation. Not surprisingly, several population-based studies have found positive associations between magnesium intake and bone density.

Meanwhile, other research has found that women with osteoporosis tend to have lower magnesium levels. These findings indicate the importance of adequate magnesium intake in order to prevent conditions like osteoporosis.

Possible Side Effects

Magnesium glycinate is generally safe as long as you stay within the recommended dose. It’s rare that someone has too much magnesium because your kidneys eliminate what your body doesn’t use, Dr. Myers says. That said, if you have kidney issues, you should consult with a healthcare provider before taking magnesium.

"Magnesium toxicity is not very prevalent with a regular diet, but taking too much of it via supplement will cause nausea, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea," says Ahmad Nooristani, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician and founder of SLO Noor Foundation, a non-profit free clinic. "In addition, too much magnesium will affect the absorption of other medications and may cause toxicity or decrease the effect of those medications."

Because magnesium can bind to certain antibiotics and prevent their absorption into the body, Jeff Gladd, MD, an integrative medicine physician and chief medical officer at Fullscript, suggests spacing the dosing of these by 1 to 2 hours.

"Additionally, because magnesium can have a blood pressure lowering effect, patients on blood pressure medication should more closely monitor their blood pressure when beginning or changing their dosage of magnesium," Dr. Gladd says. "Always talk with your healthcare provider, as they can help determine if magnesium is a safe option for you."

If, while taking magnesium glycinate, you experience low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, flushing in your face, muscle weakness, or irregular heartbeat, there is a chance that you could have excessive magnesium, Dr. Myers says. Your healthcare provider can test your magnesium levels with a blood test.

Dosage and Preparation

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 420 milligrams of magnesium daily for men and 320 milligrams daily for women. The optimal amount depends on the form, though, Dr. Myers says. "In general, 350 milligrams from supplements is considered the optimal amount."

Your actual dosage will depend on your individual needs, the reason you are using magnesium glycinate, and what your healthcare provider recommends. For instance, if you deal with PMS cramps, a higher dose can help alleviate symptoms, Becker says, while too much can induce a laxative effect. "It’s kind of like the goldilocks effect, so be sure to work with a registered dietitian or your healthcare provider to determine adequate dosing."

You also may want to consider the amount of magnesium per capsule, Dr. Gladd says. "Select a product that only requires you to take a few capsules to reach your desired dose. Taking fewer capsules can help you stay on track with your supplement regimen and may decrease costs long-term."

Keep in mind that you also can get magnesium from foods like dark chocolate, avocados, fatty fish, and leafy greens. You can also find it in legumes, tofu, and whole grains. Foods that contain glycine include red meat, turkey, chicken, pork, and quinoa.

What to Look For

When purchasing magnesium glycinate, it is best to look for supplements that are third-party tested and formulated by a physician with natural ingredients, Dr. Myers suggests. She also recommends purchasing supplements that do not contain sugars, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, gluten, wheat, dairy, GMOs, or soy. "These ingredients [can be] toxic and inflammatory and should be avoided."

It's important to read labels when purchasing a supplement. Purchase from a source you trust that is also has been GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified, she adds.

You also should look at the serving size on the label, Dr. Nooristani says. "Supplement labels should state the amount of elemental magnesium contained in the supplement; look for this amount (sometimes listed as magnesium from the compound in the supplement). Keep in mind that a supplement containing 100 milligrams of its magnesium compound may only contain 20 milligrams of elemental magnesium itself."

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is magnesium glycinate good for?

    Generally, magnesium can help decrease blood sugar and blood pressure, the frequency and intensity of migraines, and night-time muscle cramps, Dr. Gladd says. Specifically, magnesium glycinate may help improve the quality and duration of sleep.

  • Is it OK to take magnesium glycinate everyday?

    As long as you stay within the recommended guidelines, magnesium glycinate is usually safe to take every day. In fact, it is one of the better forms of magnesium to take long term, says Becker. But, as with any supplements, it is always best practice to talk to your healthcare provider before taking the supplement and get labs done yearly to make sure your levels are in check.

  • Should you take magnesium glycinate at night or in the morning?

    Magnesium glycinate can be used any time of the day—morning or night, says Dr. Myers. Many people like to take it right before bed because it supports a healthy night’s sleep. Magnesium glycinate can also be taken with or without food. While some people feel better when taking it with a meal, most people can tolerate it on an empty stomach.

17 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Sherri Gordon, CLC
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.