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Magnesium Citrate vs. Magnesium Glycinate: The Battle of Magnesium Supplements

Both provide benefits, but which should you supplement with? Here's what the science says.

10-Second Takeaway

Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are popular supplements with several health benefits. Magnesium citrate can relieve constipation, lower blood pressure, and improve bone health. On the flip side, magnesium glycinate can improve sleep, reduce symptoms of depression, and regulate blood sugar. 

You likely take a supplement or two as part of your daily health regime. You may take certain vitamins or minerals to manage a medical condition or just to maintain your health. Whatever your reason, you probably already know how important these nutrients are to your health and well-being. 

Magnesium supplements are a popular go-to for many folks (and many more should probably think about them, considering a huge amount of American adults are deficient in magnesium. However, did you know that different types of magnesium supplements can have varying health benefits? Among the many magnesium supplements, magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are two of the most popular and most-searched. 

To determine which magnesium supplement is better (and what the real differences are), we looked at the research and asked experts.

About the experts:

Sarah Bonza, M.D., MPH, a hospitalist physician at Fairfield Medical Center and the Founder of Bonza Health.

Megan Horsham, M.D., a board-certified physician at Sanctuary Wellness Institute.

What Is Magnesium Citrate?

“Magnesium citrate is a saline laxative used to relieve constipation,” says Megan Horsham, M.D., a board-certified physician at Sanctuary Wellness Institute. “It is a mixture of magnesium and citric acid, often consumed in liquid form.”

Benefits of magnesium citrate

1. Relieves constipation

According to Horsham, this magnesium supplement can flush you out if you’re backed up. “[Magnesium citrate] works by increasing water retention in the intestines to relax the bowels and soften stool so that bowel movements are easier to pass,” she explains. 

2. Lowers blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure or hypertension, magnesium citrate may help regulate your blood pressure. 

A 2021 study analyzed participants who took 400mg of magnesium citrate or placebo supplements. Researchers found those who took magnesium citrate significantly decreased their blood pressure levels (1).

3. Improve bone health

An adult body contains about 25g of magnesium, with about 50 percent to 60 percent in bones and soft tissues (2). Magnesium can play a significant role in bone health.

According to a 2021 review of studies, participants with lower bone density and a higher risk of fractures significantly benefited from magnesium citrate and other magnesium types, such as carbonate and oxide (3).

magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate benefits

What Is Magnesium Glycinate?

“Magnesium glycinate is a supplement that combines magnesium and glycine, which is an amino acid,” Horsham explains. “Magnesium glycinate provides the same health benefits as magnesium citrate, while the glycinate makes the mineral easier to absorb and digest.”

1. Improves sleep

Magnesium glycinate is used to improve sleep quality and promote relaxation,” Bonza says. This magnesium type may encourage sound sleep because it is bioavailable, meaning it is more easily absorbed in your body (4). 

A 2012 study involving older adults with insomnia found magnesium supplementation improved sleep efficiency, sleep time, sleep onset latency, and early morning awakening (5).

This benefit of magnesium glycinate is also why Andrew Huberman uses it in his famed Sleep Cocktail.

2. Reduces depression symptoms

This magnesium supplement may help people manage certain mental health conditions, such as depression. 

An older review of studies found participants who used 125 to 300mg of magnesium glycinate or taurate had a significant recovery from major depression in less than seven days of taking the supplement with a meal and at bedtime (6). 

3. Regulates blood sugar

Magnesium glycinate can help you maintain your blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial if you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

A 2019 study discovered oral magnesium supplementation can reduce insulin resistance and improve glycemic control indicators among participants with type 2 diabetes (7).

Magnesium Glycinate vs. Magnesium Citrate: Which Is Better?

You can’t go wrong with either option. It’s ultimately up to your health needs or goals. 

“If you are after short-term constipation relief, choose magnesium citrate,” Dr. Bonza says. This is because of its osmotic effect, which stimulates bowel movement by drawing water into the intestine. If you are after better sleep, choose magnesium glycinate. This is because of the amino acid glycine, which is known for its calming properties.

Magnesium Primer: What Is It, Anyway?

So, what the heck is magnesium, and why is it so important for your health?

Magnesium is a mineral key to your body’s functioning. It is predominantly found in your bones and soft tissues. Your body doesn’t naturally make magnesium, but it is present in many foods and other sources (2).

“Magnesium is often found in laxatives and [medications] and is also used as a supplement to help in heart, bone, and muscle health,” says Sarah Bonza, MD, MPH, a hospitalist physician at Fairfield Medical Center and the Founder of Bonza Health. “It is characterized as a natural calcium channel blocker.”

There are 10 types of magnesium supplements, but the two that seem to be the most popular are magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate.

The Bottom Line

Magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are two of the most popular magnesium supplements thanks to their numerous health benefits. We can’t say which is better, as that’s completely up to you—but you really can’t go wrong with either one. 

  1. Afitska, K, Clavel, J et al (2021). Magnesium citrate supplementation decreased blood pressure and HbA1c in normomagnesemic subjects with metabolic syndrome: a 12-week, placebo-controlled, double-blinded pilot trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34859788/ 
  2. National Institute of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements (2022). Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
  3. Rondanelli, M, Faliva, MF et al (2021). An update on magnesium and bone health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33959846/ 
  4. Blancquaert, L, Vervaet, C et al (2019). Predicting and testing bioavailability of magnesium supplements. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683096/
  5. Abbasi, B, Kimiagar, M et al (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703169/ 
  6. Eby, G, Eby, KL et al (2006). Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987706001034
  7. ELDerawi, WA, Naser, IA et al (2019). The effects of oral magnesium supplementation on glycemic response among type 2 diabetes patients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356710/