So you're interested in using Magnesium Citrate?
Maybe you've heard that Magnesium can help with weight loss, or maybe you found out that your serum levels are low.
Either way, it doesn't matter because the truth is that Magnesium is critical for optimal health and is involved in a number of metabolic pathways in the body (1).
The deficiency of this critical nutrient may result in a number of negative symptoms.
That's the bad news.
The good news is that replacing this nutrient isn't very difficult.
Below we are going to go over 9 powerful reasons you should consider using magnesium citrate, backed by science of course, including how I use this in my practice for maximum benefit.
Let's dive in...
9 Reasons to Consider Supplementing with Magnesium Citrate
Before we talk about the many benefits of magnesium citrate we need to establish some basics.
We need to understand what magnesium citrate actually is.
Magnesium is the critical nutrient and citrate is the portion that magnesium is bound to.
Magnesium can be bound to different compounds to either increase absorption, decrease absorption, or alter how magnesium gets into your cells.
Magnesium citrate is special because of much is absorbed after ingestion.
Much of the magnesium bound to citrate remains in the gastrointestinal tract which has special implications on GI function.
Because magnesium can act on smooth muscle it can improve the regularity of bowel movements (making it a potent treatment for constipation).
But let's be clear:
The benefits of Magnesium citrate come from the magnesium portion (the same is true of other forms of magnesium), so realistically you can still get much of the benefits that magnesium citrate providers while using other forms of magnesium.
Except magnesium bound to oxide. Don't use this low-quality form of magnesium!
Below I've attached a list of magnesium formulations with different binding components:
How to Properly Supplement with Magnesium
So how should you use magnesium for the maximum benefit?
When we talk about replacing any nutrient we are most concerned with the quality of the supplement but also the dosing.
If you take a low-quality supplement (as in the case of magnesium oxide) you won't get the maximum absorption and thus your benefit will be limited.
Likewise, if you use a dose that isn't high enough you will not experience the benefits I am discussing here in this article.
When it comes to magnesium citrate there are some general guidelines you should follow:
- Base dose on your symptoms (not on your serum levels)
- Dosages of up to 2,000mg daily may be required
- Titrate dose based on your bowel movements (increase your dose to cause loose bowel movements but never diarrhea)
- High dosages may be required for up to 6 months to replete cellular levels of magnesium (note that serum levels of magnesium do not accurately reflect intracellular levels)
- Certain hormone imbalances (such as hypothyroidism (2)) cause changes in the kidneys which influence serum and cellular magnesium levels, dosing should be adjusted for these conditions
- Magnesium is best taken at night because it can provide a calming effect on the brain and body
- Avoid taking magnesium with other oral medications (especially thyroid hormone)
- Patients with poor diets may need to supplement for longer and more sustained periods of time
Use these as guidelines when supplementing with magnesium and remember that it may take several weeks (up to 4-6 weeks) before you notice an improvement.
Below I've included a review of my favorite magnesium supplement (the one I use in my practice) and the one that I've found the most success with.
This supplement is a combination of both potency and purity and does not include any extra fillers, dyes or binders.
How to Supplement with Magnesium Citrate
Why I like it
High Quality and Very Effective
Helps with Constipation
No Allergenic Fillers
Who should use it
- Patients with chronic constipation, IBS, SIBO or other gastrointestinal problems
- Patients with low serum magnesium levels - try to get an optimal level above 2.2 if testing serum magnesium
- Patients with symptoms of muscle cramps, twitches, etc.
How to Use
- Start at 200mg every night
- Titrate dose until you have 1 loose bowel movement in the morning
- Dose ranges from 200mg-2000mg per day
Best Place to Buy
Now that we understand how to supplement with Magnesium citrate let's jump into the many benefits this nutrient might provide:
#1. Magnesium Helps with Weight Loss
I've written about this extensively in this post, but it's worth going over a few important points here.
Magnesium citrate may help with weight loss through a number of mechanisms:
Magnesium itself has a positive influence on insulin signaling (3) and may help in reversing insulin resistance.
If you've spent time on my blog you know that insulin is probably one of the most common hormone imbalance leading to weight gain and weight loss resistance.
Given that up to 50% of the US population has either pre-diabetes or diabetes (both conditions of insulin resistance), there is a good chance you fall into this category.
That means taking magnesium may help improve your insulin levels and ultimately lead to a state where weight loss is more easily achieved.
Magnesium citrate may help to increase cellular energy levels and ATP production via mitochondrial pathways (4).
Studies have shown that adding magnesium may improve energy production during exercise resulting in a longer and more sustained caloric burn.
This change in energy production may be responsible for a reduction in symptoms of fatigue and indirectly lead to increased activity levels.
Higher energy production = higher resting energy expenditure = more calories burned at rest
This benefit assumes that the person supplementing is deficient in magnesium, however.
So taking magnesium if you have sufficient cellular and serum levels may not help with weight loss in this population.
Magnesium citrate helps to reduce total body water and stool through its laxative-like effects on the GI tract (5).
This improvement in regularity may also bring upon changes in your microbiome and microbiota (6) which may have a positive effect on energy balance as well.
Remember though that this benefit does not necessarily provide a reduction in total fat mass, which is what people want when they are looking for weight loss.
The temporary loss in water weight may move the scale, but may not do much for the reduction in fat in your body.
The combination of these benefits probably all contribute to weight loss that is seen in some patients who supplement with Magnesium Citrate.
Remember, for the best results it's necessary to combine magnesium supplementation with other lifestyle changes including diet, exercise and stress reduction.
#2. Magnesium Improves the Quality of your Sleep and Helps Treat Insomnia
Magnesium supplementation has been shown in many studies to help improve both the depth and quality of sleep (7).
This is important for several reasons:
A general lack of sleep has been associated with multiple medical conditions including an increased risk of developing diabetes, a reduction in immune system function (8) and an increased level of inflammatory markers (9).
A lack of sleep is described as less than 8 hours of restful and high quality sleep each night.
How many of you fall into that category? Not many I'm sure.
What's important is that Magnesium can help increase the depth of your sleep and actually reduce your risk of these conditions.
This may be yet another reason why magnesium citrate may help with weight loss because a general lack of sleep is also associated with weight gain (10).
You can use magnesium to help improve your sleep by taking it 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime.
Use doses of at least 300-400mg at night for the full effect.
In my experience patients who tend to get an improvement in sleeping habits with the use of magnesium tend to have an "over-active" mind or a mind that they can't "shut off" at night.
Having said that many patients still notice improvements with magnesium supplementation.
How to Supplement with Magnesium Glycinate
Why I like it
Superior absorption over magnesium citrate
Biggest impact on serum magnesium levels
No Allergenic Fillers
Who should use it
- Patients with low serum magnesium levels but who also have a "sensitive" GI tract
- This form of magnesium is better for patients with low serum magnesium and in patients who have high fasting insulin levels
- Patients with symptoms of muscle cramps, twitches, etc.
How to Use
- Start at 100-150mg per day take at night
- Titrate dose until you have 1 loose bowel movement in the morning (you may require higher doses of magnesium glycinate because more magnesium is absorbed)
- Dose ranges from 300mg-600mg per day
Best Place to Buy
#3. Magnesium helps Treat Constipation
As was mentioned previously one of the most well-known benefits of using magnesium citrate is its ability to help improve bowel movement regularity.
The citrate components help magnesium stay in the bowels longer, helps relax smooth muscles and helps move stool through the GI tract.
To get this benefit with magnesium citrate you may need to use dosages as high as 2,000mg per day.
To start supplementation simply start with 200-300mg taken at night (30-60 minutes prior to bedtime) and increase your dose by 100-200mg per night until you have loose stools in the morning.
If you develop diarrhea during this process then you should back down on the dose.
While magnesium citrate will most definitely help you with bowel movements it's best to focus on the CAUSE of your constipation.
Magnesium citrate acts as a way to increase bowel movements but doesn't necessarily treat the underlying cause of your constipation and may just mask the symptom.
Having said that it is important to have consistent bowel movements because stool helps eliminate potentially harmful bacteria and other breakdown products in your body.
#4. Magnesium Helps Calm the Mind and May Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with depressive symptoms (11).
What's interesting is that this connection seems at least in part to be due to the changes in the microbiome (12) due to magnesium depleted foods.
Magnesium supplementation can be used as an adjunct to other treatments for depression.
That means you can add magnesium to anti-depressants and other medications to get this benefit.
Low magnesium has also been associated with changes to the HPA axis which may result in symptoms of anxiety (13).
The addition of magnesium can help to "calm down" the mind, reduce symptoms of anxiety and help combat depression.
#5. Magnesium can Help Treat Chronic Migraines
Do you suffer from headaches or even migraines?
Did you know that taking magnesium every day can actually help PREVENT migraines?
Studies show that taking magnesium can actually act as prophylaxis against migraines (14) (without aura).
How this works is not entirely understood but probably has to do with multiple factors:
Believe it or not, doctors still aren't exactly sure what causes migraines (we think it has to do with vascular changes in the arteries/veins).
With that in mind, it is felt that magnesium can help relax the smooth muscle which controls the diameter of the arteries and veins which may reduce the frequency that patients experience migraine headaches.
The moral of the story here is that if you suffer from migraine headaches (without aura) using magnesium supplementation may help to reduce the total number of migraines you experience.
Note that in order to prevent migraines magnesium should be taken every day regardless of serum levels.
#6. Magnesium May Help Increase Energy Levels
We touched on this previously but because magnesium is involved in mitochondrial pathways (15), a deficiency in magnesium may result in the subjective symptom of fatigue or low energy.
Your mitochondria produce energy for your entire body in the form of ATP.
The production of ATP occurs (mostly) in the mitochondrial and requires certain cofactors, enzymes and nutrients for optimal production.
A deficiency in critical enzymes may reduce energy production slightly, and this reduction in energy production is what is subjectively felt as fatigue.
Of course, other factors may influence energy levels, but if you are suffering from fatigue AND you have low serum levels of magnesium then supplementing with magnesium may ultimately help to improve your energy levels.
Again, supplementing for low energy may depend on a combination of serum magnesium levels and for the best benefits magnesium should be taken daily.
#7. Magnesium Helps Reverse Insulin Resistance
We touched on this earlier in how magnesium citrate supplementation can help with weight loss section, but it's worth expanding on here...
Magnesium helps your body become sensitive to insulin.
If you recall the role of insulin is to help push blood glucose (sugar) into your cells.
High levels of insulin shove glucose into your cells (including fat cells) causing insulin resistance at the receptor level.
High levels of insulin cause weight gain due to the growth of fat cells and result in an increased risk of multiple medical conditions including cardiovascular disease (16).
What you may not realize is just how common the condition of insulin resistance actually is.
The number of patients with insulin resistance continues to grow and with it, the risks and complications of the disease do as well.
If you have known issues with blood sugar, diabetes or pre-diabetes then you have insulin resistance.
If you do I would recommend reading through this article and considering the use of multiple supplements and dietary changes to help influence your insulin sensitivity.
Of these supplements that help reduce insulin resistance, magnesium is front and center.
#8. Magnesium Helps Reduce Muscle Cramps, Twitches, and Muscle Aches
Have you ever experienced a Charley horse?
A Charley horse is a painful muscle spasm (usually in the lower legs) that usually doesn't subside until it is stretched out (another painful endeavor).
These muscle spasms can be triggered by low levels of magnesium.
In addition to these muscle spasms, magnesium can help reduce muscle twitches (I'm talking about those pesky eye twitches) and other muscle aches and pains (17).
If you are experiencing muscle cramps, aches or pains then supplementing with magnesium citrate may help to reduce these symptoms.
A word of caution:
Diarrhea can actually induce magnesium deficiency, so high doses of magnesium citrate may be counterproductive if your magnesium deficiency and muscle cramps are caused by loose stools.
#9. Magnesium may Help Lower Blood Pressure
Several studies have shown that taking magnesium can actually help to reduce blood pressure levels and act as an anti-hypertensive (18).
This is felt to be mediated through a combination of factors:
First magnesium helps to relax smooth muscles. As the diameter of your arteries increases blood pressure will necessarily fall.
In addition, magnesium helps to increase nitric oxide levels which have the same effect.
In addition, magnesium acts as a natural calcium channel blocker (19) to reduce the force of contraction of the heart.
If you have hypertension you may know that many antihypertensives actually target the calcium channel as well.
The thing to realize about magnesium supplementation for hypertension is that it may not work for everyone.
However, it is easy enough to add magnesium to your regimen and then monitor your blood pressure.
I would not, however, recommend that you go off of your anti-hypertensives in favor of using magnesium without consulting your physician.
Recap + Final Thoughts
There you have it:
9 powerful benefits to using magnesium citrate that is backed by scientific evidence.
If you didn't have reason to consider using magnesium prior to this article I hope you have a good reason now!
Not only is magnesium involved in multiple enzymatic pathways, but it's also a common nutrient deficiency found in many patients.
Now it's your turn:
Are you using magnesium citrate?
Has it helped you in any of the categories above?
Why or why not?
Leave your questions or comments below!
References (Click to Expand)