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Magnesium Citrate & Oxide

By Marek Doyle

Required to form more than 300 different enzymes, magnesium stands out as one of the most important essential minerals for good health. Because your body cannot produce the nutrient, you must obtain it regularly from the diet. Carolyn Dean MD, the author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” sees supplementation as the only way to achieve a healthy mineral status. Citrate and oxide forms of the mineral stand out as common choices in this regard.

Magnesium Requirements

Like all minerals, magnesium requirements will vary slightly among individuals as a function of their genetics, environment and lifestyle. Dean believes that, while high-stress lifestyles have increased the amount of magnesium we require each day, the processing our food undergoes and the changes in distribution have severely compromised the amounts of minerals it contains, with magnesium levels dropping significantly.

Benefits of Magnesium

Magnesium plays a major role in many different systems in the body. Charles Poliquin, the Canadian strength coach who has trained a wealth of Olympic athletes, explains how it remains particularly important for achieving deep sleep each night as it relaxes the central nervous system. He also points out that magnesium can reduce risk of coronary heart disease, improve insulin sensitivity and lower stress hormones.


You will find magnesium oxide in a number of supplements, especially multivitamins. Oxide represents the cheapest form of the mineral to produce, leading many manufacturers to choose it instead of chelated forms. A 1990 study on magnesium oxide absorption, which was published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” found that the intestines could not absorb oxide forms efficiently. Most of the supplement was eliminated from the body in the stool.


Chemists form magnesium citrate by chelating the mineral with citric acid. As with other chelations, the citrate acts as a mineral transporter to actively enhance absorption across the intestinal barrier. The 1990 study also looked at citrate absorption, which they measured at an impressive 65 percent. Accordingly, the citrate form stands out as a much better choice to boost your magnesium status.

Using Supplements

Dean recommends that individuals take magnesium on a daily basis to improve cardiovascular health, sleeping, insulin resistance and energy production. She suggests 600 mg in divided dosages. Always speak to your physician before using supplements.

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