Not many dietary supplements make any difference to most people who take them, but one of the few supplements that may actually be worth taking is magnesium. That’s because most people these days don’t consume adequate amounts of this important micronutrient in their regular daily diet.
Magnesium plays a key role in many processes in the human body, including energy and protein production, muscle function, mental functions, and more.
Magnesium deficiency has several noticeable symptoms, including mental and cognitive problems, muscle cramps and twitching, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, migraine headaches, and others.
There are several different forms or types of magnesium supplements (aka magnesium salts) on the market. Just to name a few of the most common ones, you have magnesium citrate, oxide, threonate, carbonate, etc. But one form of magnesium that often stands out as the best for general supplementation is magnesium glycinate.
As the magnesium salt of the amino acid glycine, magnesium glycinate (or bisglycinate) is a chelated molecule (a chelate) that is readily absorbed and well tolerated by the body. It has higher bioavailability than other forms of magnesium and it does not cause diarrhea like non-chelated magnesium salts often do.
Whether you want to use it for sleep support, reducing muscle tension, relieving migraine headache, or any reason other than inducing diarrhea, magnesium glycinate is one of the most effective and best absorbed forms of magnesium that you should try first.
Let’s have a quick review of five of the best brands of quality magnesium glycinate supplements you can buy online. You may have noticed that many brands that say “magnesium glycinate” on the front label also include a combination of other magnesium salts like oxide, citrate, etc. The following supplements only include pure magnesium glycinate chelate without other forms and without lots of unnecessary additives.
#1. Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate
Pure Encapsulations is a trusted practitioner brand that offers a huge selection of dietary supplements and herbal formulas. Their products are known for their high-quality ingredients and purity, which they make sure of through comprehensive testing on raw materials and finished products.
Pure Encapsulations makes different forms of magnesium supplements, but the glycinate form is by far the best selling among these. The product only contains two ingredients; magnesium glycinate and ascorbyl palmitate. The latter is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C that works as an antioxidant. It comes in vegetarian capsules.
This is one of the cleanest and most potent magnesium supplements on the market, however, it is a little pricey; just like the rest of the products sold by this practitioner-focused manufacturer.
#2. Kirkman Buffered Magnesium Glycinate
Kirkman’s magnesium capsules contain buffered magnesium bisglycinate. It is similar to any other magnesium glycinate chelate out there, but being buffered means it is more resistant to pH changes and less likely to cause digestive issues for people with very sensitive stomachs.
The other ingredients in this supplement are vegetarian capsules, citric acid (chelating agent), adipic acid (buffering agent), and L-leucine (amino acid). The product is reasonably priced.
#3. Thorne Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder
Thorne is another very reputable premium brand that makes clean supplements and uses high-grade ingredients. This product comes in pure powder form, which is more suitable if you want to add it to smoothies, drinks or other foods. You can also mix it with water and drink it directly, which is the suggested way to take it according to the label.
This supplement contains a patented form of magnesium (bis)glycinate chelate referred to as TRAACS (The Real Amino Acid Chelate System). Additionally, it contains citric acid and monk fruit concentrate. Some people like the added sweetness of monk fruit while others may find it a little too sweet for their taste buds.
The product is NSF certified but it’s on the higher end of the price scale, so unless you really need it in powder form, you may find the capsules more affordable and convenient.
#4. NOW Magnesium Glycinate Tablets
If you are a frequent user of dietary supplements, then you may have tried a few products from NOW Foods before, and if you haven’t, you should! There is a good reason why this company is among the most reputable in the industry; their products are hard to beat in terms of quality and price.
NOW’s magnesium glycinate tablets contain the patented version TRAACS, in addition to the following ingredients: stearic acid, hydroxypropyl cellulose, silicone dioxide, and vegetarian coating. Yes, there are a couple of extra additives here, which is normally the case with any tablet supplement. Encapsulated products can make do with fewer ingredients since the capsule holds everything together inside, whereas tablets need some additives to achieve this.
It is nevertheless a decent and clean product that comes at a low price. If for any reason you prefer to take solid pills over capsules, this is definitely one of the best choices to check out. NOW also makes a cleaner powder version of this with only one additive; citric acid.
#5. KAL Magnesium Glycinate Tablets
This one provides a high dose of magnesium glycinate (400mg per serving) in tablet form. Again, tablets come with some additional ingredients, and in this supplement these are: cellulose, stearic acid, magnesium stearate, and silica. It is soy-free and vegan.
Magnesium stearate is an inactive ingredient that is commonly used in pharmaceutical products as an excipient (anti-adherent). You may have heard the controversy about the safety of this compound, however, most claims of it being harmful are overexaggerated and lack scientific proof. Magnesium stearate and stearic acid are generally considered safe and pose no significant risks or side effects when consumed in quantities commonly found in dietary supplements.
Is Magnesium Glycinate The Best Form For Sleep Aid?
Sleep problems can be a result of a magnesium deficiency, among many other causes. Not getting enough magnesium can worsen depression and anxiety, which in turn can make it difficult to get quality sleep. While other factors can also contribute to sleep issues, when the lack of magnesium intake is a primary cause then supplementation with this mineral can be an effective sleep aid.
Magnesium glycinate does have an advantage over other forms of magnesium when it comes to promoting better sleep. The glycine molecules that get released into the body after magnesium glycinate molecules are broken down also have their own effects and benefits. Glycine functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and it has been shown to have a calming effect and can potentially improve sleep quality.
Glycine is used on its own as a sleep aid supplement, but you get 2-in-1 if you opt for magnesium glycinate. It’s not going to make you sleepy or lethargic so you can still take it anytime during the day, and it’s also the best nighttime magnesium you can take before bed to promote restful sleep.
There is no guarantee that magnesium, glycine, or magnesium glycinate will help you sleep better. Again, many things can potentially cause sleep problems, and just like any other supplement, results vary from one user to another. There is always a chance that you may be one of the people who do not respond well to this supplement.
Is Magnesium Glycinate Effective For Muscle/Leg Cramps?
Leg and muscle cramps can result from different causes, one of which is the lack of magnesium intake. Magnesium plays an important role in muscle function, more specifically muscle relaxation. It works in balance with other minerals (calcium, potassium and sodium) to enable muscle contraction and relaxation. The body needs to maintain a certain electrolyte balance for proper muscle function, and a deficiency or excess of any of these minerals can disrupt that balance and cause muscle cramps, twitches, pain and/or fatigue.
Magnesium supplementation can help relieve muscle and leg cramps, but only in the case that a deficiency in this mineral is causing the problem. Potassium deficiency is also quite common and may contribute to muscle cramps. Calcium deficiency is less common but should also be looked into as a potential culprit.
If you have tried a pure magnesium supplement for leg cramps and it didn’t help much, then you may want to try a magnesium + potassium supplement like this one by Pure Encapsulations. The high bioavailability of magnesium glycinate makes it a great choice, but most of the combo/multi supplements use other cheaper forms of magnesium, so you won’t usually find this one with potassium in one product.
You should also make sure that you’re getting adequate amounts of calcium in your diet. There are many everyday foods that are rich in calcium (most notably dairy products), so you probably want to take this one the natural way and skip the supplements.
Is Magnesium Glycinate Safe?
Yes, magnesium glycinate is well tolerated in most people and does not usually cause any significant side effects. It is normally taken in dosages from 100mg and up to 400mg per day, with 400mg being the maximum daily dosage for adults.
Taking too much magnesium can be potentially risky and can cause several side effects that include nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, skin flushing, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and others. If you are not sure whether a magnesium supplement is right for you or not, discuss your case and concerns with a qualified healthcare professional.