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What is Chelated Magnesium?

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Chelated magnesium is a type of mineral that is easily absorbed by your body. For that reason, chelated magnesium is a popular supplement. Chelated magnesium and magnesium, in general, are important for many of your body’s most essential functions. Magnesium chelate is also sometimes called chelated magnesium.

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium is a nutrient that we all need to stay healthy, yet many of us don’t get enough. The following are some of the main things to know about magnesium:

  • Magnesium is found naturally in foods such as nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, and some dairy products.
  • Many people use magnesium supplements in the form of multivitamins or magnesium on its own
  • Men older than 70 and teenagers are most likely to have low magnesium intake
  • People with gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease and Crohn’s may not get enough magnesium
  • Other groups at risk for magnesium deficiency include people with alcoholism and people with type 2 diabetes

Along with not consuming enough dietary magnesium, some people may be deficient because they have medical conditions such as those named above that interfere with their absorption. Other people take medicines that impact their magnesium levels or how much magnesium they excrete.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can range from mild to severe, and typically the longer you’re deficient, the worse those symptoms can get.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

While magnesium deficiency can and does occur, particularly in high-risk groups, there are risks of consuming too much magnesium. If you’re only getting magnesium from your diet, this isn’t usually a risk.

If you are taking a supplement, be careful not to take too much. In healthy people, your kidneys can get rid of excess magnesium via your kidneys, but still, you shouldn’t take more than what the dosage guidelines are for a supplement.

For example, the upper combined limit of all magnesium you should be consuming as an adult is 350 mg.

High magnesium intake levels from supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.

Some of the possible benefits of taking a magnesium supplement, if you need one, include:

  • Magnesium supplements may help reduce blood pressure. A review of 22 studies found that taking a magnesium supplement with a dosage of 410 mg on average was linked with a 3 to 4 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure, which is the top number. This dosage was linked with a 2 to 3 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number.
  • Taking a magnesium supplement may improve mood. Low levels of magnesium have been linked with depression.
  • Magnesium plays a role in glucose metabolism and insulin. Many people who have type 2 diabetes are magnesium deficient. One reason for this deficiency is that high insulin or blood sugar levels can increase your loss of magnesium through urine. Some people are advised to take a magnesium supplement to help with insulin resistance.
  • Low magnesium levels are associated with heart disease. This is possibly because low levels affect heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure and blood sugar control. Taking a magnesium supplement may improve some heart disease risk factors.
  • Low levels of magnesium are thought to have a link with migraine. A 12-week study found people with migraines who took a daily 600 mg magnesium supplement had 42% fewer migraine attacks. The attacks were also less intense.

What Are the Benefits of Chelated Magnesium?

Now that we’ve covered some of the important magnesium facts in general, it’s worthwhile to discuss chelated magnesium in more detail.

Chelated magnesium is a type of supplement, but not necessarily a specific type of magnesium.

That may sound confusing, and it can be. There are many different types of magnesium supplements, which are going to be discussed below. Some are more absorbable and bioavailable than others.

Then, within the different types of magnesium, chelated magnesium is an even more specific type.

There are lots of different types of chelated minerals on the market, aside from magnesium.

When we take minerals in supplement form, they’re critical for bone health, fluid balance, and many of our body’s most important functions. They are hard to absorb, however.

Chelated minerals are easier to absorb, so you’re going to get more benefits theoretically.

A chelated mineral is bound to an amino or an organic acid. That helps with absorption.

The amino acid or organic acid is known as a chelating agent. That agent helps prevent minerals from interacting with other compounds in your body.

When a mineral is chelated, it is absorbed differently than dietary minerals, and it is more stable in the body.

Along with chelated magnesium, other minerals commonly found in this form include:

  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Potassium

The amino acid glycine is what is used as the chelating agent in most types of chelated magnesium. In this case, you’ll see it referred to as magnesium glycinate.

You might also see the term magnesium citrate, which means the magnesium’s chelating agent is citric acid. Magnesium orotate means the chelating agent is orotic acid.

There have been a few studies that indicate chelated minerals are better absorbed.

There was a study that found chelated zinc had an absorption rate of around 11% more than non-chelated zinc.

Another study found chelated magnesium raised blood magnesium levels more than non-chelated magnesium oxide.

Taking chelated minerals may reduce the amount of time you need to take them to reach normal blood levels. If you’re at risk of mineral intake, you should be cautious because of this.

If you’re considering a chelated magnesium supplement, it may or may not have the word “chelate” or “chelated” in the product name.

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Who Should Consider Chelated Magnesium or Other Minerals?

If you’re deciding on which minerals to buy, some people may have more benefits than others.

If you’re older, you might want chelated minerals. This is because as we age, we produce less stomach acid, possibly impeding mineral absorption.

When chelated amino acids are bound to an acid, they don’t require as much stomach acid for digestion.

If you have gastrointestinal symptoms after taking a supplement, you may also find that chelated minerals are more comfortable for you.

Types of Magnesium

If you’ve ever searched for a magnesium supplement, you’ve likely seen how many types there are. While the benefits are all generally the same, there are also differences. Some of the common types of magnesium supplements include the following:

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate is bound with citric acid. It’s a common type of magnesium supplement, and it is a chelated form of magnesium.

There’s evidence magnesium citrate is one of the most bioavailable types of this supplement.

Magnesium citrate can be used to raise low levels, and it may also be used as a constipation treatment. Sometimes people use magnesium citrate to help with depression and anxiety.

Magnesium Oxide

Magnesium oxide supplements are not chelated. These supplements are a salt combining magnesium with oxygen. It’s the active ingredient in milk of magnesia, and it’s not well-absorbed, so it’s not frequently used to correct a magnesium deficiency.

Rather, magnesium oxide may be a go-to choice to help with constipation, indigestion, and heartburn.

Magnesium Chloride

Magnesium chloride is well-absorbed and is used for constipation, heartburn, and to correct low magnesium levels.

Magnesium chloride can be used topically in creams and lotions and taken as a tablet. The magnesium creams may help with muscle pain and soreness.

Magnesium Lactate

Magnesium lactate is bound with lactic acid. This is easy on the digestive system and well-absorbed. Magnesium lactate may be good for someone who doesn’t otherwise tolerate supplements well.

There is a small bit of evidence that magnesium lactate can help with anxiety and stress.

Magnesium Malate

Magnesium malate has malic acid. Magnesium malate is easily absorbed in the digestive system, and it may be less likely to cause diarrhea or digestive upset than some other magnesium types.

Magnesium Taurate

This type of magnesium contains taurine, an amino acid. Taurine and magnesium together may help with the regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure. There was one animal study showing magnesium taurate helped with heart health as well.

Magnesium L-Threonate

Magnesium L-threonate combines magnesium and something called threonic acid. Theronic acid comes from the breakdown of vitamin C.

This is a well-absorbed type of magnesium, and if you want the brain benefits of taking a supplement, you might opt for this one. There is animal research that found magnesium L-threonate is the most effective to improve magnesium levels in your brain.

Magnesium Sulfate

This is a combination of magnesium, oxygen, and sulfate, better known as Epsom salt.

Some people use it for constipation, but it doesn’t taste great, so it’s not ideal. More often, this type of magnesium is used as a bath salt or in various skincare products.

Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is frequently marketed as chelated magnesium. Magnesium glycinate includes the amino acid glycine.

Glycine can be used as a supplement to help with inflammation and to improve sleep quality.

Magnesium glycinate is easy to absorb and may be calming. Some people find it helps with insomnia, anxiety, and stress.

Magnesium Orotate

This type of magnesium includes orotic acid, and it’s a form of chelated magnesium. It’s well-absorbed and isn’t a strong laxative like some other types of magnesium. It may help with cardiovascular health because of how it interacts with blood vessel tissue and heart pathways.

Are There Side Effects of Magnesium Supplements?

You should ask your doctor to do a blood test if you think you have a magnesium deficiency. Always follow dosage instructions as well.

Taking large doses of magnesium supplements can lead to stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

Magnesium supplements can also interact or interfere with some medicines, including antibiotics and bisphosphonates, which are used to treat osteoporosis.

The upper-level dose of magnesium in supplemental form is 350 mg a day. If you are truly deficient, you might need a higher dose than that, but you should speak to your doctor.  

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the common questions you may have about chelated magnesium.

What is Chelated Magnesium?

Chelated is a term that is used not just with magnesium but other minerals as well.

Chelation is a process that combines a mineral, such as magnesium, with an organic compound. The result is improved nutrient bioavailability and stability. This allows the minerals to be easily transported across your intestinal wall and then used by your body.

Nutrients can have a tough time when they’re exposed to the harshness of the gut environment. Chelated magnesium bypasses the typical digestive process.

Non-chelated mineral supplements are often made from mineral salts or inorganic sources. This makes them poorly assimilated by the body.

Chelated magnesium options include magnesium glycinate, magnesium taurate and magnesium malate.

What Does Chelated Magnesium Do?

Chelated magnesium is just another way to get the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is important for many of the body’s key processes. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions. These include muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and energy production.

Low magnesium levels are linked to many illnesses, including migraines, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and mood disorders.

You can get magnesium from food sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Many people also supplement with magnesium, often because they can’t absorb enough from their diet.

Chelated magnesium provides all the benefits of magnesium, but the chelation helps your body absorb and use more of the mineral itself.

What Does Chelated Magnesium Mean?

Chelated means that magnesium is bonded to something else. In terms of magnesium, it is bonded to amino acids typically, which helps your body absorb the magnesium more effectively. In general, the body is efficient at amino acid absorption but not as much at regular magnesium absorption.

In the case of magnesium glycinate, the glycine is an amino acid that is easily absorbed across your intestinal wall. Then, the magnesium doesn’t break down during the digestive process so that it can be absorbed.

What is the Difference Between Magnesium and Chelated Magnesium?

The biggest difference between magnesium and chelated magnesium is that chelated versions are bonded to something like an amino acid. That bond helps them be better absorbed.

Where to Buy Chelated Magnesium?

You can buy chelated magnesium at pharmacies and online health retailers. Amazon also has some top-related chelated magnesium products.

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