I’m a big advocate of science-backed supplements to optimize mental and physical performance. These articles represent my own distilled research on effectiveness, risk, and other things to consider before supplementing. To see what supplements I am currently taking, definitely check out the “My Current Supplements” article at the top of this section. Most of the sources are dervived from Examine.com, which is a great resource, but my intent is to distill it down and add my own research + anecdotes.
Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is critical to numerous functions within the human body. The human body is so reliant on magnesium that it stores more than 25g of the mineral across different systems at any given time - with most of this mineral storage occurring in soft tissues.1 More than 50% of the United States is deficient in magnesium because it is relatively difficult to obtain proper amounts of magnesium through diet alone. Older populations are more prone to magnesium deficiency, but supplementation is recommended for anyone who does not eat a ton of nuts or dark leafy greens.
A report by the US Nutritional Health and Examination Survey in 2006 (Research: 1) found that 60% of Americans are magnesium deficient.2 This is second only to Vitamin D deficiency.
Benefits are listed from best supported to least supported
Magnesium Oxide (the form you don’t want to buy) causes laxative effects when taken orally. It is recommended below to take a non-laxative and higher bioavailable form of magnesium.
It is almost impossible to reach the toxicity level for magnesium, as the kidneys are very efficient at filtering out excess quantities. There are extremely rare cases of magnesium toxicity, but only because the patients kidneys failed. The worst thing that will happen if you take too much will be laxative effects, which is more embarrassing than life threatening.1
Magnesium supplements are a little more complicated than one would think. Magnesium is not easily absorbed by the body on its own, so manufacturers often attach it to a transporting substance so that it can be absorbed. This results in many variants of magnesium supplements that all have differing effectiveness. There are two factors that you should watch out for: elemental magnesium and bioavailability. Elemental magnesium is the actual content of magnesium in the supplement - often this is printed on the bottle. Bioavailability, on the other hand, relates to the effectiveness of the transporting substance. High elemental magnesium and high bioavailability is the goal, since taking tons of huge pills sucks.
List sorted from most recommended to least
Magnesium Glycinate or Taurinate are the most recommended. The optimal time to take these supplements is before bed due to the glycine/taurine acting as sleep-enhancing agents.
Dosing for magnesium is a piece of cake. Just shoot for the recommended daily intake of 300-400mg of elemental magnesium.7 See the “When and how to take” section regarding exactly what this means - picking out the right form of magnesium gets tricky depending on what you are going for.
Magnesium is another major dietary deficiency that can be easily fixed with little cost. The upsides are pretty big in the long run, and honestly the better sleep quality is nice day to day. Overall, highly recommended for daily use.
Recommended Brand: Doctors Best Magnesium Glycinate or Nootropics Depot Magnesium Glycinate. They both rank well in terms of purity and quality.
The cost of magnesium supplementation is right around $0.12 - $0.16 per day. That is cheap enough to justify adding to any supplement stack.