Science has found that the mineral magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. To understand what this really means we have to understand some basic biology first. Your body is home to countless chemical reactions that happen automatically every minute. Most of these reactions need catalysts, and a catalyst in chemistry is something that makes reactions happen much faster.
A simple example is digestion. When you consume food, your body uses hydrochloric acid in your stomach to break down proteins, along with other digestive enzymes that break down fats and carbohydrates. Everything gets broken down into its constituent pieces so it can be used by the body, and those with digestive issues suffer malnutrition and fatigue because they don't function well in this area for one reason or another.
For a more detailed approach to healing your digestive system inside and out, check out the following research based articles:
Why Magnesium is So Important
One thing that is part of life is cost. Whether it's paying sales tax or digesting your food, there is always a cost. Every time your body uses an enzyme to do whatever it needs, it needs minerals as "cofactors" to do the job. Digestive enzymes rely on things like copper and zinc, hormones like insulin need manganese and chromium and serotonin (your sleep and happy chemical) needs iron. Without minerals we simply can't function and that is why magnesium is vital for good health.
But over time as we age, get injured, get infected with various diseases, take prescription drugs, party, stress out, eat toxic food and many other things - our "piggy banks" for minerals get depleted quickly. And because food is much less nutritious than it used to be, obtaining therapeutic amounts of magnesium is practically impossible. For example, almonds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, but to get enough therapeutically you would have to eat around a bowl of almonds every day - something that is neither cost effective nor practical.
Because magnesium is used by your body for stress recovery, managing calcium and other electrolyte levels in your blood, supporting relaxation and sleep, strengthening bones and muscles and even helping the brain - having optimal levels of this mineral is one of the first priorities that anyone should have for a healthy life.
But there is a lot of misinformation about magnesium and countless products touting several forms each more magical than the next - so which one is best and why? Let's see what the research says.
The Best Form of Magnesium: Albion Chelated
To understand what the best form of a mineral is we have to follow our guts - literally. When your body digests food, what happens naturally is a process called chelation. This process wraps the minerals in food with a protein wrapping, and then your small intestine recognizes it as food and absorbs it much easier. That's simplified version.
Today there are many forms of magnesium, like magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate, but understanding that not all forms are created equal is very important for al the supplements you take. Chelates have a long history of superior absorption and are much safer to take for several reasons.
One of the reasons is that other forms, like oxides, release free radicals once they are disassembled by your body. Ferrous sulfate, which is a form of iron you can take, is very inexpensive and poor quality compared to chelated iron. Chelated zinc is also significantly better tolerated and absorbed than zinc citrate, and magnesium that's chelated outperforms other forms of magnesium by a longshot. In fact if you are taking magnesium oxide, be careful. This is a cheap form of magnesium that is used as a laxative because it doesn't absorb well and even a relatively small amount can give you the runs.
But now within chelates there is also a trusted name and that is Albion. Albion Minerals has had the patents on human and animal mineral nutrition chelation for over 70 years and they are the gold standard in mineral products. Although they don't sell directly, they work with a variety of companies to license their chelates for supplementation. In that regard, a solid recommendation is Essential Magnesium by Optimal Health.
Why I Suggest This Magnesium
There are several factors when considering a good magnesium supplement. First is the form, and we covered that above. Optimal Health's magnesium is 100% Albion chelated magnesium which is the best you can get. The next thing to consider are fillers, like other forms of magnesium. Some companies will advertise a chelate but also add fillers in the form of magnesium oxide or other ingredients. There's none of that here. Lastly, the amount in each pill is pretty significant, which is 175mg, so for someone looking to maintain their mineral levels along a healthy diet that means 2-3 pills per day is more than enough as a maintenance dose.
Always consider your existing supplement regimen and speak with your health team. Although there's little to no risk when dealing with quality products, I gauge magnesium intake based on how soft my stools are. Once they get too runny it's time to cut back, and if you are finding yourself to be more constipated than normal - it's time to add a little more magnesium because your body needs it.
Overall I often say: if you had to take only one supplement in your life then make sure it's a good magnesium supplement. Magnesium simply covers so many important bases and it's also difficult to get in the diet in therapeutic amounts. It's also relatively inexpensive and comes with only the risk of a little diarrhea if you overdo it. Compared to a list of side effects from traditional medicine I'd say that's a win.