Magnesium Glycinate: What Can It Do for Your Mental Health?

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Story at-a-glance -

  • Similar to other magnesium supplements, magnesium glycinate may offer some vital health benefits that can address certain conditions. However, there may still be benefits or side effects we may be unaware of
  • Learn more about the qualities that make magnesium glycinate stand out from other types of magnesium supplements

Over the years, the importance of magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body,1 has been proven in scientific research. In fact, a lack of magnesium can place you at risk for impaired metabolic function and reduced mitochondrial function, both of which may trigger serious health problems.

In 2011, data revealed that around 45 percent of adults in the U.S. were unable to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium.2 In 2014, this same problem was seen in a whopping 92 percent of teenagers aged 14 to 18 years old.3 In order to combat this deficiency, you must make sure to get enough magnesium from the foods you eat. Examples of magnesium-rich foods that you can add to your diet include:4,5

  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, collard greens, kale, Bok choy and Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Avocados
  • Seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts)
  • Fatty fish like wild-caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel
  • Herbs and spices such as coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves
  • Fruits and berries such as papaya, tomato, watermelon, and dried peaches and apricots (must be consumed in moderation)
  • Organic, raw grass fed yogurt
  • Natto

In addition to these foods, there are various types of magnesium supplements that help increase your body's levels of this mineral. If you came across or have been recommended to try magnesium glycinate, this may be a good choice. Familiarize yourself with what a magnesium glycinate supplement is, how it may positively impact the body and how much you should be taking.

What Is Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that is known for delivery very high levels of magnesium absorption and bioavailability. According to Medical News Today, magnesium glycinate is actually one of the most recommended magnesium supplements, mainly because it's the best-absorbed form of this mineral. It's also the gentlest on the stomach.6

In general, magnesium glycinate may be used by people alleviating a magnesium deficiency, which, as mentioned above, has become a problem for many Americans. However, its benefits are not limited to that — it may actually be beneficial for your mental health as well.

Studies Show Magnesium Glycinate's Potential Effects Against Anxiety and Depression

Magnesium glycinate has shown potential in combatting anxiety , as magnesium is known to assist with producing the hormone serotonin7 in your brain, which may significantly affect feelings of anxiety and happiness.8 In fact, low magnesium intake was shown to decrease serotonin levels9 which can negatively affect mood.

Magnesium may have an impact against depression, too. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine noted that younger adults with very low magnesium intake may be prone to depression.10

An earlier study found how supplementation may have an effect against this disorder. According to case histories shown in a 2006 Medical Hypotheses article, subjects experienced rapid recovery (less than seven days) from major depression after taking magnesium glycinate and/or taurinate, in doses ranging from 125 to 300 milligram (mg), during meals and before bedtime.11

Magnesium glycinate may also promote better sleep as well.12 Glycinate comes from a nonessential amino acid called glycine that provides a calming effect on the brain. In a 2011 Journal of Pharmacological Sciences study, rats that were given glycine had higher plasma and cerebrospinal fluid glycine concentrations, and experienced a reduction in core body temperature. Lower body temperatures are known to promote sleep.13

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Other Health Benefits and Uses of Magnesium Glycinate

Apart from its potential to improve mood and enhance sleep, magnesium glycinate may also result in the following positive health impacts:14

Strengthen bones by promoting healthy bone density — Dr. Carolyn Dean, writing in an article for The Huffington Post, emphasizes that magnesium stimulates the calcitonin hormone that draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones.

This may eventually reduce a person's risk for osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis, heart attacks and kidney stones.15,16

Help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and possibly lowering diabetes risk17  A December 2010 Diabetes Care article highlighted that magnesium intake was inversely related with the incidence of diabetes in young American adults.18

Furthermore, a 2011 Clinical Nutrition study highlighted magnesium's potential role in controlling blood glucose levels. Results showed that diabetics with low magnesium intake are unable to properly control their blood sugar levels.19

Help provide relief against constipation20 Magnesium glycinate and other magnesium supplements are considered a short-term natural remedy for constipation. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, magnesium "is an essential mineral and a cofactor for hundreds of enzymes."21

Help address back pain In this 2012 study published in the Journal of Pain & Relief, a 10-year-old boy who suffered from chronic back pain took oral magnesium glycinate and applied a topical magnesium/guaifenesin cream.

Results showed that he experienced a decrease in myofascial pain and noticed improvements in flexibility and functionality without using other pain medications.22

Aid in reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) — Common PMS symptoms like cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention may be addressed by magnesium glycinate, according to the book "Progress in Obstetrics and Gynecology –3."23,24

Help reduce abnormal heart rhythms — The book "A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health" highlights that magnesium glycinate may assist in addressing irregular heartbeats.25

Improve conditions of people who underwent a bariatric surgery — This 2013 study published in The FASEB Journal discovered that a 400 mg dose of magnesium glycinate was beneficial in increasing plasma magnesium readings among people who underwent the procedure.26

Magnesium Glycinate's Side Effects

Medical News Today emphasizes that taking extremely high doses of magnesium glycinate may lead to adverse effects like irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest. You should also remember that magnesium itself is a powerful laxative. While it's difficult to overdose on magnesium since excess amounts of the mineral are often flushed out, it can be counterproductive if you decide to undergo a five-day water fast. If you fast, stop taking oral magnesium, as it can induce bowel movements.

However, magnesium glycinate supplements may not work for everyone. For instance, people with kidney problems may find it difficult to release excess magnesium from the body if they ingest too much of it. Magnesium glycinate is also known to interact with these medicines:27

Bisphosphonate (often used to treat osteoporosis) and antibiotics — The body may not absorb these medicines well if they are taken too close to magnesium supplements.

Diuretics: Because they trigger increased urine production, diuretics may lead to magnesium loss.

Prescription drugs that target acid reflux or peptic ulcersYou may have lower blood levels of magnesium when you take these drugs for a long period of time.

Zinc supplementsThese can disrupt proper magnesium absorption and regulation in the body.

Tetracyline-type medicinesWhen taking minocycline, demeclocycline or tetracycline, allot two to three hours between taking a dose of magnesium glycinate so these drugs will not inhibit proper magnesium function.

While serious allergic reactions to magnesium glycinate are rare, WebMD advises that you seek medical attention immediately if severe reactions occur, such as rashes, itching or swelling in the face, tongue and/or throat, several dizziness, and breathing difficulties. Likewise, if you're allergic to magnesium, tell your doctor immediately. The inactive ingredients may cause allergic reactions or other problems.

Furthermore, substances like sugar and/or aspartame or even alcohol may be found in magnesium glycinate liquids, powders or other forms of the product. As such, check the label of the magnesium glycinate before taking it, especially if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence, liver disease, phenylketonuria (PKU) or other conditions that require limitation of alcohol.

Lastly, since it's not known whether magnesium glycinate passes into breast milk, breastfeeding women should not take magnesium glycinate supplements at all. As for pregnant women, this form of magnesium must only be used when clearly needed.28

Before taking magnesium glycinate or increasing your dosage of it, seek advice from a doctor first regarding proper dosage amounts and administration, so you won't put yourself at harm's way.29,30

Magnesium Glycinate May Be Promising, but More Information Is Still Needed

Just like other magnesium supplements, magnesium glycinate may offer some vital health benefits that may address certain conditions. While it does show potential, there is very little information surrounding it, meaning there may be benefits or side effects we are unaware of.

Apart from magnesium glycinate supplements, magnesium threonate supplements are worth considering too. Magnesium threonate was shown to be highly efficient at penetrating cell membranes such as the mitochondria and blood-brain barrier. On the other hand, magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) baths may be another good way to increase your magnesium levels, since the mineral can be absorbed through the skin.31

Before taking magnesium supplements, consult your doctor to know the dosage that's best for your condition. Don't forget to balance magnesium intake with other nutrients like calcium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D. Improper balance between these nutrients can trigger health problems like a higher risk for heart attacks and stroke (if you take calcium supplements excessively) and vitamin D toxicity.

Lastly, remember that magnesium supplements aren't meant to serve as a cure for your health problems. Consuming magnesium-rich foods is still highly recommended, because it's an effective way to raise your body's levels of this vital mineral.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Magnesium Glycinate

Q: What is the difference between magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate?

A: Magnesium citrate is a combination of magnesium and citric acid. Available either as an oral tablet or as a liquid, magnesium citrate is often used as a laxative. Once magnesium citrate dissolves in the stomach, it produces an osmotic effect that promotes concentration of solutes inside the intestine at a higher rate compared to solutes outside the surrounding tissue.32

On the other hand, magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that may not only help combat a magnesium deficiency, but help promote improved brain health, increase bone strength and assist with blood sugar control. Just like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate may come in supplement and liquid form.

Q: Where can you buy magnesium glycinate?

A: Magnesium glycinate supplements can be bought from retailers and from pharmacies. Before purchasing any of these, however, do thorough research regarding the background/s of the seller to ensure that you get a high-quality product and avoid side effects.

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