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Magnesium Glycinate vs Citrate: Which Form Is Best?

Magnesium Glycinate Vs Citrate

Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body and contributes to over 300 biological processes that keep you healthy.

Unfortunately, studies suggest that roughly 50% of Americans get less than the recommended daily allowance of Magnesium, even though it’s found in many whole foods.

Low levels of magnesium are linked to a variety of illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders, so getting a healthy amount is key for your quality of life.

As most people are unable to get enough magnesium through diet alone, many people are turning to magnesium supplements to meet their recommended daily intake.

However, there are many different types of magnesium on the market, so we wrote this article to help you find out which supplement reigns supreme in the battle of magnesium glycinate vs citrate vs oxide vs chloride vs lactate and so on…

For the sake of simplicity, this article will discuss the benefits of two different forms of magnesium – magnesium glycinate vs citrate – which are two of the most easily absorbed forms of magnesium.

Magnesium Glycinate Vs Citrate: Which Is Better?

Which Is Better Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Glycinate

Both Magnesium Glycinate and Citrate are effective; the best form depends on your needs. Glycinate is better for those seeking a calming effect and minimal laxative effect. Citrate has a greater laxative effect and is often used to aid digestion.

Because a supplement is only effective if it can be absorbed and used by your body, we consider this the most crucial aspect of any magnesium supplement.

Since magnesium citrate and glycinate seem to be more bioavailable than some other forms of magnesium, we’ll be focusing on magnesium glycinate vs citrate in this article.

But that’s not to say that these two supplements can’t hold their own, as they both have a variety of health benefits including:

Magnesium Citrate Benefits

Magnesium Citrate Benefits

Magnesium citrate is a type of magnesium that is bound with citric acid – an acid that naturally occurs in citrus fruit – and has laxative effects in higher doses.

But don’t poo-poo this supplement just yet, as it has an edge in the magnesium glycinate vs citrate debate – it’s easy for your body to process and absorb.

Research suggests that magnesium citrate is one of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium, making it better able to increase your magnesium levels and arguably more effective overall.

What’s more, magnesium citrate helps to regulate muscle and nerve functions throughout the body, promoting overall health.

Magnesium Glycinate Benefits

Magnesium Glycinate Benefits

Magnesium glycinate is formed when magnesium and the amino acid glycine – used by your body in protein construction – combine.

Glycine is often used as a standalone supplement to improve sleep and treat inflammatory conditions like diabetes, while magnesium glycinate is easily absorbed and may have calming properties, meaning this combo could prove superior.

Some research has suggested magnesium glycinate is the least likely form of magnesium to cause stomach issues such as diarrhea, making it a gentler supplement than magnesium citrate.

This, in addition to its high absorption rates, means that magnesium glycinate is commonly prescribed for magnesium deficiencies, but is it enough for it to come out on top in the battle of magnesium glycinate vs citrate?

What is Magnesium Glycinate Used to Treat?

What is Magnesium Glycinate Used to Treat

Magnesium plays a critical role in a wide range of biological functions and low levels are linked to a wide range of illnesses, such as osteoporosis, fatigue, and high blood pressure.

But when it comes to cases of magnesium deficiencies, discussions of magnesium glycinate vs citrate have to take a back seat, as any magnesium is good magnesium.

However, magnesium glycinate has been shown to have a variety of health benefits when used to supplement a balanced diet. These benefits can help with a wide range of health issues, such as:


Magnesium plays an essential role in brain function and mood, with low levels linked to an increased risk of depression, as much as 22% higher than average.

Studies show that supplementing with magnesium can provide dramatic improvements in depression, and the glycine content provides additional benefits to sleep, potentially giving it an edge in the magnesium glycinate vs citrate debate.

Type 2 Diabetes

Similarly, studies have found a link between type 2 diabetes and magnesium deficiencies, as approximately 48% of type 2 diabetics had low levels of magnesium.

Getting plenty of magnesium may help to ward off diabetes, as studies show that diabetics who took high doses of magnesium saw significant improvements in their blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels.

High Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium can lower blood pressure to healthy levels, though it may only benefit people with high blood pressure.

This benefit of magnesium, when combined with the soothing properties of glycine means that magnesium glycinate is likely better suited to people with high blood pressure, so that’s one more point in the magnesium glycinate vs citrate battle.


Migraines are an extremely painful – and often debilitating – type of headache that can cause nausea, vomiting and noise sensitivity and may be caused by magnesium deficiencies.

Early studies indicate that magnesium supplements can prevent and even help treat migraines, which could prove especially effective when combined with glycine’s soothing effects.


PreMenstrual Syndrome (or PMS) is a common disorder among women of childbearing age that causes symptoms of varying severity including abdominal cramps, tiredness and mood swings.

Magnesium has been shown to improve various PMS symptoms and glycine has known beneficial effect on muscles, which means that magnesium glycinate wins the battle of magnesium glycinate vs citrate for people with PMS.

What is Magnesium Citrate Good for?

What is Magnesium Citrate Good for

Magnesium citrate is a great source of magnesium ions that are needed throughout your body and is a very common form of magnesium in supplements. Like magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate works to promote healthy nerves, muscles and blood pressure, while low levels are linked to a variety of health issues.

When discussing magnesium glycinate vs citrate, don’t assume that because glycine is used as a supplement on its own it must add value, because magnesium citrate has many benefits like:

Digestion Regulation

As mentioned previously, magnesium citrate has laxative effects, as it causes the intestines to release water into the stool, relieving constipation and irregularity.

This, combined with the gentle side effects of magnesium citrate, makes it a common ingredient in many laxatives and an effective supplement for anyone suffering with constipation.

Muscle and Nerve Support

Magnesium is essential in maintaining healthy nerves and muscles, as it binds to nerve receptors and proteins responsible for activating your muscles and nerves.

Magnesium helps regulate NMDA receptors on nerve cells and helps your muscles to relax, which can be compounded by glycine, a point that fitness-focussed people are sure to notice in the debate of magnesium glycinate vs citrate.

Bone Strength

Approximately 60% of the body’s total magnesium is stored in the bones, so maintaining healthy magnesium levels is key to healthy bones. Furthermore, magnesium citrate helps to regulate the transport of calcium across cell membranes, playing a key role in bone creation.

Heart Health

Studies show that magnesium supplements can lower blood pressure and magnesium citrate is commonly used to prevent arrhythmia, making this supplement beneficial to your heart health.

When discussing the benefits of magnesium glycinate vs citrate, it’s hard to overlook the pharmaceutical applications of magnesium citrate, making it highly desirable for those with poor heart health.

What Form of Magnesium Is Best Absorbed by The Body?

What Form of Magnesium is Best Absorbed by The Body

No matter what type of supplements you take, some of their active ingredients will get lost in the body before they have a chance to do their ‘job’.

The percentage of your supplement that makes it into your bloodstream after being processed (i.e., digested/absorbed) is known as its bioavailability, and the higher the bioavailability, the more pronounced the effects will be.

Because any part of a supplement that isn’t used in your body is purged, a major part of the magnesium glycinate vs citrate debate depends on which is best absorbed.

Some studies have shown that magnesium citrate is more easily absorbed, and though these findings aren’t conclusive, magnesium citrate does seem to have greater bioavailability than other forms.

How Much Magnesium Glycinate Should I Take for Sleep?

How Much Magnesium Glycinate Should I Take for Sleep

Magnesium plays a key role in almost every aspect of your health, including sleep, which is why magnesium supplements are sometimes prescribed for sleep disorders.

While magnesium can improve sleep quality, you should introduce new supplements to your daily routine slowly and carefully, starting with the lowest suggested dose before gradually increasing the dose until you get the desired results.

What Time of Day is Best to Take Magnesium Glycinate?

What Time of Day is Best to Take Magnesium Glycinate

Regardless of why you’re planning to take magnesium supplements – to improve your mood, enhance your sleep, or reduce blood pressure – all of magnesium’s benefits come from long-term use. So, you can take magnesium supplements any time of the day.

Any arguments over morning vs night are secondary to making sure that your magnesium levels are in a healthy range, so any time is the right time of day to take magnesium supplements, so long as you stick to your routine.

How Long Does it Take for Magnesium Citrate to Work?

How Long Does it Take for Magnesium Citrate to Work

Magnesium citrate is absorbed relatively well and is easily dissolved in water, allowing your body to process it more effectively than other forms of magnesium.

Both factors mean that magnesium citrate supplements can take effect in as little as 2-4 hours, depending on the dosage and your sensitivity, with many people noticing the laxative side effects in just a few hours.

Is it OK to Take Magnesium Every Day?

Is it Ok to Take Magnesium Every Day

Unless you suffer from low magnesium levels, taking magnesium supplements every day probably won’t provide any noticeable health benefits and may actually harm you.

The National Institutes of Health recommend that men and women get 400-420mg and 320-360mg a day respectively, depending on their age, and exceeding these levels can result in side effects…

Although the NIH Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are considered safe for most adults, regularly exceeding them may result in side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Whatever your opinions in the magnesium glycinate vs citrate debate, it’s vital that you take a safe amount per day and seek advice from your doctor before taking magnesium supplements on a daily basis.

To summarise, we do not recommend taking magnesium supplements daily unless you suffer from low magnesium levels, and even then, you should stick within the recommended limits.


In summary, magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to hundreds of biological processes, with numerous adverse effects – like heart disease, depression, and diabetes – linked to insufficient levels.

There are many different types of magnesium used in supplements, though a lot of debate centres on magnesium glycinate vs citrate, two of the most bioavailable forms of magnesium.

While magnesium glycinate offers many soothing properties, the laxative effects of magnesium citrate are very beneficial for those with constipation, so it’s impossible to say that one is superior to the other when you should pick the right supplement for your needs.

If you believe that you’re one of the thousands of Americans who don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, then magnesium supplements could help you tackle health issues like muscle soreness and depression, though you should always consult your doctor before adopting a new supplement.

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Written and Researched by

SupplementsYouCanTrust is made up of passionate health writers dedicated to providing reliable information on supplements and vitamins. With backgrounds in nutrition, medicine, and research, our team brings a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to the table.
Dr Wasim Khan

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Wasim Khan’s areas of expertise lie in understanding the role of dietary supplements and vitamins in healthcare. His in-depth knowledge allows him to provide comprehensive advice and help you make informed decisions about your nutritional intake and supplement usage.

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