You’ve most probably heard of magnesium, but what about magnesium glycinate? What is it and what does it do?
We’ve dedicated this article to providing you with an overview of magnesium glycinate. By the time you’ve reached the end, any queries you had about it will hopefully have been answered.
What is magnesium glycinate?
It’s a form of magnesium. So, for instance, you can get magnesium sulphate, which is usually taken via injection or IV for extreme magnesium deficiencies. You can also soak in it too, as this form of magnesium is what’s used to make Epsom salts.1
Magnesium citrate can help improve digestion; magnesium oxide can help with heartburn and magnesium chloride can potentially soothe skin issues.2 Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia) can help with constipation.3
While magnesium glycinate (also known as magnesium bisglycinate or magnesium diglycinate) is a type of organic magnesium salt, or amino acid chelate, that’s created by combining inorganic magnesium with an amino acid called glycine.
Glycine is the smallest amino acid. It happens to be so small it can squeeze through the tiniest spaces. It plays a major role in collagen and elastin formation, as well as bile acid function, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.4
Being deficient in glycine can result in growth impairment and immune and nervous system problems.
Magnesium glycine is one of several magnesium ‘salts’ that’s made up of inorganic magnesium and an amino acid called glycine.
What does magnesium glycinate do?
It’s a magnesium supplement that can help people who are deficient in magnesium, up their levels. Magnesium deficiency is one of the more common deficiencies, with half of the total population in the US being deficient in this mineral.5
Around 60% of the magnesium that’s found in the human body is within your bones, the rest is in your body tissues, and around 1% is in your blood.6
Magnesium is essential in the human body for7:
- Turning the food we eat into energy
- Making sure our parathyroid glands, which produce hormones important for bone health, work properly
According to the NHS, the recommended daily allowance is:
- 300mg a day for men (19 to 64 years)
- 270mg a day for women (19 to 64 years)
Magnesium can be found in food, such as spinach, wholemeal bread and nuts.
Top 7 magnesium-rich food and drink sources
You can find magnesium naturally in these food and drink sources8:
Magnesium content: 105mg in ¼ cup
Health benefits: Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that keeps the immune system strong and eyes healthy. They're also packed with protein and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Sunflower seeds
Magnesium content: 128mg in ¼ cup
Health benefits: Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of calcium. They’re also full of polyunsaturated fats, which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels.
2. Sunflower seeds
3. Cashew nuts
Magnesium content: 89mg in ¼ cup
Health benefits: Just one serving of cashews provides nearly 10% of your daily iron needs. They’re also a great source of folate and Vitamin K.
3. Cashew nuts
Magnesium content: 37mg in ½ cup
Health benefits: A ½ cup of tofu will give you 43% of your daily calcium needs. On top of that, it will boost your iron levels. Iron is essential for helping red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Magnesium content: 74mg in 1 ounce
Health benefits: There’s 5g of fibre in every ounce of these seeds. They also contain lots of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and 5g of protein per serving.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Magnesium content: 40mg in 1 tablespoon
Health benefits: Just one tablespoon of flaxseed contains more than half your recommended daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains fibre, as well as the antioxidant, lignan.
7. Skimmed milk
Magnesium content: 27.8mg in 1 cup
Health benefits: Drinking one cup of skimmed milk will provide you with around a third of your daily recommended intake of calcium, which you need to build healthy bones and keep them strong. It also contains potassium, protein and Vitamin B 12.
7. Skimmed milk
Ideally, you should be able to get all the magnesium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet that includes some of the magnesium-rich food examples from the list above. But if you aren’t, then taking magnesium supplements is an option. The Department of Health says taking up to 400mg a day is a safe dosage.
Low magnesium levels can also make Vitamin D inefficient in our bodies. This is due to the fact that Vitamin D cannot be metabolised without sufficient magnesium levels. One particular study found that patients with optimum magnesium levels required less Vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient levels. Deficiency in either magnesium or Vitamin D is associated with disorders, including skeletal deformities, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome.9
Magnesium glycinate helps our bodies to function properly, particularly when it comes to making sure we have enough energy and our bones are healthy. One of the ways we can boost our magnesium is through our diet, with good food sources, including flaxseed, tofu and almonds.
What are the side effects of having too much magnesium in your body?
Excessive magnesium levels can lead to stomach upsets, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, due to the fact that almost all forms of magnesium can have a laxative effect.10
Too much magnesium can also lead to low blood pressure, drowsiness, muscle weakness, slow breathing, and possibly even death in some circumstances.
If you have kidney disease, you should not take magnesium unless instructed to do so by a medical professional. Magnesium can also interact with certain medications, such as blood thinning and anti-diabetes medication, and should be taken at least two hours apart from these medications.
You shouldn’t take magnesium supplements unless instructed to do so by a medical professional. Exceeding the recommended intake can lead to a build-up of excess magnesium which, in turn, can lead to health issues, such as stomach upsets and vomiting and, in some instances, more serious side effects, such as low blood pressure and slower breathing.
Does magnesium glycinate help you poop?
As we’ve just mentioned up above, the one thing that most forms of magnesium have in common, is they can have a bit of a laxative effect.11
This is because magnesium draws water into the intestines. The increase in water stimulates bowel motility. It also softens and increases the size of the stool, triggering a bowel movement and helping to make stools easier to pass.
Overall, magnesium is believed to have a laxative effect. This is due to the fact it works by drawing water into the intestines, which helps stimulate movement and soften things up a bit.
What are the benefits of taking magnesium glycinate?
So, we know by now there are various different forms of magnesium out there, all with their own set of properties. But why do people take magnesium glycinate in particular?12
1. It may boost memory
Studies have found that magnesium glycinate can help lessen daytime sleepiness and enhance memory. One piece of research in particularly found that taking 125 to 300mg of magnesium glycinate daily helped with short-term memory and IQ.
2. It may help with blood pressure
Magnesium can reportedly have a positive impact on blood pressure amongst people who are deficient in magnesium. According to one study in particular, ‘after magnesium supplementation, systolic and diastolic pressures significantly improved.’
3. It may help with blood sugar levels
Research has shown that eating a magnesium-rich diet can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is because magnesium helps break down sugar, which in turn decreases insulin resistance.
4. It may help with bone health
Magnesium plays a key role in bone formation and directly influences parathyroid hormone and Vitamin D levels, which are linked to healthy bone formation. This means that having an adequate intake of magnesium is useful for supporting healthy bones.
5. It may help with headaches and migraines
Magnesium deficiencies have been connected to migraine headaches. Studies have found taking magnesium supplements can be beneficial for some migraine sufferers.
6. It may help with leg cramps
Research has found that magnesium glycinate can help ease pregnancy-induced leg cramps. According to one study, in which 80 pregnant women took 300mg of magnesium glycinate a day, the frequency of cramping, as well as the intensity of leg cramping, reduced by 50%.
7. It may help with PMS
Research like the study mentioned immediately above has shown that taking magnesium glycinate (250mg a day) helps manage PMS symptoms. Magnesium is believed to be effective at helping lower prostaglandins and easing menstrual cramps. It is also necessary for oestrogen detoxification, which is why it can help ease PMS.
Magnesium glycinate alone can potentially benefit the body in so many different ways, ranging from easing PMS symptoms, leg cramps and headaches and migraines, to helping with bone health, blood sugar levels and boosting concentration and memory.
To recap on what we’ve covered above…
Magnesium glycinate is just one form of the mineral, magnesium, which plays an essential role in the human body. Not only is it key for turning the food we eat into energy, but it’s a key contributor to bone health. There are more specific benefits linked to this type of magnesium, which include helping with blood sugar and blood pressure levels and boosting memory, to name but a few.
Now that you’re here, we think you may find this article useful: ‘8 of the best magnesium supplements.’
Last updated: 5 March 2021
Author: Donia Hilal
- Joined Holland & Barrett: January 2018
- Qualifications: : Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist, Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one-to-one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.
Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction.
View Donia's LinkedIn profile.
Author: Donia Hilal