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What is the difference between magnesium glycinate & magnesium malate?

Updated April 17, 2017

Magnesium is a valuable mineral for maintaining health. Eating the right mix of magnesium-rich foods is possible but can present a challenge to those who have an unbalanced diet or a health condition that may interfere with absorbing the proper amount. In these cases, taking magnesium supplements may be a viable option.

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There are two popular forms of magnesium supplements: magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate.


Hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions continuously occur in your body. Each of these biochemical reactions requires an enzyme system comprising three parts: a protein, an organic compound and a mineral. Magnesium plays a major role in about 300 of these reactions, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, half of which is found in the bones. Approximately one per cent is found in the blood and is absorbed through the small intestine.

Magnesium is vital in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, keeping steady heart rhythm, helping regulate blood sugar and promoting normal blood pressure.


According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, foods such as halibut, almonds and soybeans contain about 20 per cent of the daily required amount of magnesium. If you're not regularly eating a variety of foods that contain magnesium, you could develop a deficiency. Magnesium deficiency can result in vertigo, cramps, fatigue and irritability. Other factors that can contribute to a deficiency include certain antibiotics, poorly controlled diabetes and alcoholism. For these reasons, your doctor may recommend magnesium supplements.

Glycinate Benefits

This form of magnesium is less disruptive on the bowels than magnesium chloride, citrate and sulphate, which can cause diarrhoea. Aside from these considerations, magnesium glycinate is five times easier for the body to absorb than magnesium oxide.

Individuals suffering from malabsorption conditions like coeliac and Crohn's disease will benefit from this form of magnesium. Older people, who are usually prone to magnesium deficiency, also benefit.

Malate Benefits

The malate form of magnesium is derived from malic acid, which plays a key role in energy production. Not surprisingly, magnesium malate will benefit individuals such as athletes, who would like to maximise their energy production, as well as those with musculoskeletal problems like fibromyalgia. People suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or other circulatory and respiratory problems may benefit as well.


Both magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate can provide the body with a sufficient amount of the mineral. Your choice will depend on your health and energy needs. For example, if you would like to feel more energised, magnesium malate is for you. On the other hand, if you would like to improve nutrient absorption, magnesium glycinate is the logical choice. The most important consideration is that you get enough overall magnesium. To be safe, consult your physician before starting any kind of supplement regimen.

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About the Author

Jacob Workman began writing in 1993. He's written for national music magazines such as "7 Ball" and "Release" as well as trade journals, graphic novels and newspapers including "Toledo Journal," "Toledo Free Press" and "Spectrum." He has over 10 years experience as a music producer and over seven years as a radio deejay. Workman attended Owens Community College.

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