It is an established fact that many of us do not get adequate nutrition from our diets. With magnesium deficiency becoming a common problem on the planet, natural magnesium malate is likely to have a revolutionary impact on your vitality and well-being!
In this article, we will cover what magnesium malate is, why magnesium is crucial for good health, which type is the best and why. Magnesium malate benefits, side effects, natural sources and dosage are also discussed.
Magnesium malate is a form of magnesium where magnesium is bound to malate - aka the salt of malic acid.
Malic acid is an organic acid found throughout nature that is produced by all living organisms, including us. Our cells produce malic acid in the form of malate for cellular respiration and the production of energy. Malate is used to transport vital nutrients in and out of the mitochondria, using what is known as the 'malate shuttle.' Inside the mitochondria, these nutrients in turn are broken down to form ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), the energy molecule.
There are also two forms of malic acid, of which L-malic acid is the organic form found inside our bodies. Many plants, animals and bacteria make L-malate and L-malic acid. In nature, it contributes to the tart taste of unripe apples, rhubarb and some fermented foods.
D-malic acid is the synthetic form of malic acid, produced in a laboratory. This form is typically used as a sour tasting food additive and in some cases it is added to sour sweets to make them incredibly potent.
In synthetic mineral supplements, a composite of both malic acid forms is used to make malate. This composite is called DL-malic acid 1or DL-malate. Refer to the magnesium malate supplement section below for specific details on which form of magnesium malate is best.
As both magnesium and malate are used to enhance energy production in our cells, the combination is largely favorable to our health. This particular form of magnesium also has one of the highest absorption rates recorded - alongside magnesium acetyl taurate2 - making it one of the best forms of bioavailable magnesium.
Magnesium malate is one of the best consumable forms of magnesium, an essential trace mineral necessary for health.
Being the fourth most important essential nutrient for us, Magnesium plays an active role in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body!
All our tissues benefit from magnesium. This trace mineral is required for cells to operate properly. Most metabolic reactions and bodily processes take place due to the influence of this metal, including:
Most importantly, it is a major contributor to the process of creating energy, synthesizing DNA and keeping our immune system strong. In order to keep your body running smoothly, it is necessary to eat a magnesium-rich diet.
For the best outcomes, one should consume natural forms of magnesium that have a high bioavailability, such as magnesium L-malate.
The following magnesium malate benefits also apply to magnesium in general - however, due to its higher bioavailability, greater benefit is likely to be gained from using magnesium malate over other forms of magnesium.
If you are lacking in dietary magnesium, you may find yourself in for restless nights as well as having a hard time getting up in the morning. That is because magnesium is required for the cellular production of melatonin - the "sleep hormone." 52 In theory, supplementing magnesium can help to enhance the natural production of melatonin in depleted cells and therefore contribute to better sleep quality overall.
While our cells are known to work this way in theory and studies on rats have shown that magnesium deficiency affects their melatonin levels 53, there have been no tests done on humans to see if the result would be the same. However, due to magnesium's calming, muscle-relaxing effects, it may also help you fall asleep if tension is what keeps you awake!
Magnesium is necessary for the building of bone tissue and, also, improving the absorption of calcium. Conversely, if you absorb too much or too little calcium, both your magnesium levels and bone integrity are prone to suffer. Many studies have outlined magnesium's role in maintaining healthy bones3, which tend to house as much as 60% of our bodily magnesium and require this prolific nutrient to regulate bone mineral balance 4. In light of this data, those with weaker bones may find a magnesium supplement useful if they're lacking in magnesium.
Magnesium helps our body synthesize a special growth factor that affects the growth and development of muscle fibers. In sports research, it was revealed that magnesium helped to improve strength performance of athletes5, allowing them to bear an increased load of up to ±12lbs (5.5kg)!
An insufficient amount of magnesium in your diet will lead to increased cramping, which magnesium malate can help to prevent. Taking an Epsom salt bath (which contains magnesium as well) may also provide relief.
Both magnesium and malate are known to play an active role in producing energy in the mitochondria at a cellular level. Mitochondria are like a battery pack, providing our whole body with energy through each of our cells individually.
Since magnesium malate has such a high bioavailability, it may help both of these substances to quickly enter our cells and promote an abundance of energy over time!
Magnesium is involved in the synthesis of all our hormones, including Serotonin and Dopamine which are responsible for making us feel good. Without it, we would be incapable of feeling happy!
Research on humans has shown that magnesium is safe and potentially capable of boosting a person's mood 8. This is particularly the case if we are not meeting our nutritional requirements, are dehydrated or have a massive hangover - all things that are known to deplete magnesium in the body and (not surprisingly) tend to make one feel a bit under the weather.
Magnesium may also prove to be a useful nutritional support in future for those who are on antidepressants, many of which also happen to increase magnesium levels in the brain 54. In a case study conducted on 126 adults, magnesium supplementation promoted better antidepressant outcomes with results after just 2 weeks of treatment 9.
Magnesium plays a special role in keeping our nervous system stable, which enables us to withstand stress. Deficiency of magnesium in the body may induce heightened stress levels10, anxiety, and fatigue when facing a stressful situation; all of which tend to detract from your well-being. At the same time, stressing too much can cause your magnesium levels to drop.
Adequate magnesium intake promotes the release of neurotransmitters that block stress, such as norepinephrine, and discourages the production of ones that cause it, such as adrenaline and cortisol11.
Furthermore, plenty of research suggests that magnesium may well be an effective nutritional support for conventional anxiety treatments due to its relaxing profile.
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All our cells need magnesium to thrive and immune cells are no exception to the rule!
Research has revealed that there is a fine balance between calcium and magnesium in our all our cells, including immune cells, which regulates the way they talk with one another.
In very simple terms, when a cell is deficient in magnesium, it seems to emit too much calcium; which is often misconstrued by immune cells as the beginning of a "cry for help" and therefore may initiate an unpleasant immune reaction in an attempt to tackle any potential threats. Adequate magnesium in the cells tends to keep the conversation contained and less dramatic, promoting a happier immune system and better communication between cells overall. 12
You also need magnesium to produce bodily antioxidants like glutathione and absorb dietary nutrients like Vitamin C13. Both our bodily and dietary antioxidants help to keep our immune systems strong.
Magnesium has been shown to directly benefit the vitality and appearance of skin in clinical trials testing Dead sea salts and Epsom salts, both of which are incredibly high in magnesium. Bathing in these magnesium salts was shown to enhance skin hydration, skin barrier function and exfoliate dry, flay skin 14.
Besides these benefits, this mineral is able to nourish our complexions in a few other ways:
In order to reap the benefits of magnesium on the skin, you can use magnesium soap or take an epsom salt bath. The skin seems to drink magnesium in when applied externally, even though science is still trying to figure out how 15
If you are deficient in magnesium, your hair may not be living up to its most gorgeous potential! Since magnesium is required for vitamin D metabolism and both nutrients are needed for hair follicles to grow and function optimally 56 18, dietary magnesium may lend itself to giving your hair the luster you’ve been missing out on.
That’s not the only hair nutrient magnesium seems to support. Cutting edge research has also shown that magnesium is able to enhance biotin absorption, making it more bioavailable 57. Biotin is another dietary vitamin that maintains the growth of radiant hair, but also of skin and nails - yet another reason to love magnesium!
Note: topically applied magnesium appears to dry hair out and cause it to become more brittle 58. Magnesium supports hair the best when taken internally. If bathing in hard water (with lots of magnesium ions) or magnesium-rich salts, try to minimise the contact with your hair by tying it up and rather let your skin soak it in. Don’t add magnesium to your bath water if you need to wash your hair or you may end up wasting your shampoo!
Magnesium is essential to both the functioning of all our blood vessels and the heart, including the electrical impulses that guide our heart beat. Without magnesium, we would not be able to regenerate our veins and arteries19. A deficiency in it may result in weaker heart function and poorer circulation 20.
Considering that magnesium is used by every cell in the body for multiple processes at a time, it's not surprising that global data highlights that populations who consume adequate dietary magnesium appear to have a higher life expectancy and healthier hearts on average compared to populations that miss the mark 25 21. While this is a fascinating correlation, it is not enough evidence to say whether taking a magnesium supplement will work in the same way. What we do know is that we need it in our diets in the right amounts to be happy, healthy and thriving!
While a supplement is not a replacement for dietary magnesium, plenty of research has suggested that magnesium supplementation may help to maintain a stronger heart, promote cleaner blood and support circulation in those who are deficient 22 23 24.
Magnesium relaxes the walls of blood vessels and promotes a better overall metabolism, which may help to help keep us calm and maintain a stable blood pressure throughout the day. Stress and eating too many unhealthy snacks can spike blood pressure erratically, which does not help our well-being in the long run!
Studies showed that magnesium supplements may help support a stable blood pressure profile (particularly in those who are depleted), but only when potassium, sodium and calcium levels are in balance. In other words, taking a supplement may be useful for a boost if you are depleted, but it will work better if you include it inside a wholesome nutritious diet.
Due to the extensive role magnesium plays in supporting our biology, scientists are busy exploring the potential of magnesium supplements as safe nutritional support for those who are taking antihypertensive drugs 61 26. The current evidence is not enough to make any conclusions and many trials currently show conflicting results 27. One study observed that magnesium supplements enhanced the drug's efficacy for the first 6 months of treatment, after which the results were the same whether taking magnesium supplements or not.
Magnesium stimulates intestinal peristalsis as well as softens stools by accumulating water in our intestinal tract, which not only helps to keep regular but also naturally helps to get rid of more toxins.
Magnesium is required for the normal function of enzymes, which are necessary for numerous chemical reactions. Without Magnesium, our body would not be able to synthesize a single enzyme! Insufficient levels of magnesium will affect the production and function of enzymes, which may have far reaching effects on all the chemical processes inside our body, including metabolism and hormone production.
Magnesium may help relax the bronchial muscles and is known to support easy breathing. Even a slight magnesium deficiency tends to promote more muscle contractions and cramps all over the body, including the chest. Optimal magnesium intake ensures that the muscles remain more relaxed and in balance 28 29, suggesting that those with tight chests might want to consider including more of this essential nutrient in their diet.
Magnesium is also required for cells to take in oxygen and transport it around the body 59, therefore it may help to make our breathing feel easier due to enhanced oxygen absorption - particularly if we are not getting enough magnesium in our diets.
Magnesium plays an extensive role in the metabolism of all nutrients, including sugar 30. Deficiency of magnesium in the body has been known to promote erratic blood sugar levels and other metabolic side effects by interfering with the absorption of vital nutrients. Magnesium supplementation was shown to help maintain stable blood sugar levels and enhance glucose absorption in those who were depleted 31 32 33. Magnesium malate supplements that are made using L-malic acid may enhance magnesium's potential blood stabilizing action, according to preliminary research on L-malic acid 34.
Magnesium plays a key role in maintaining the female reproductive system. According to a study involving 38 women, two months of magnesium supplementation at 200mg daily helped to promote a happier menstrual cycle with results being observed after the first month 35. In the second month, the women in the trial had less swelling, headaches, irritability and overall were in a better mood and had more energy than compared to the first month or when they went without magnesium.
Magnesium is also essential for pregnant mothers who are particularly vulnerable to magnesium deficiency. In order to ensure a successful gestation period, it is essential for the soon-to-be mother to have a healthy level of magnesium. This mineral is essential for the full growth and development of the fetus, protein synthesis, and tissue construction. Magnesium deficiency may also be associated with birth defects36. Due to a lack of testing done on magnesium supplements, it is best for pregnant mothers to proceed with caution and rather include more magnesium-rich foods in their diets to avoid deficiency.
Nutritional support is often advised to those who are undergoing chemotherapy, as it may support strengthening the immune system and improve the quality of life through the process. Magnesium's supportive role to the body as a whole makes it a prime dietary nutrient to place one's focus on, particularly if one is deficient in magnesium 38.
Preliminary research highlights how dietary magnesium supports better chemo treatment outcomes by helping to lessen the side effects 60. In terms of magnesium supplementation, not much is known on whether a supplement would provide good nutritional support to those on chemotherapy.
In a long-term study involving 66 806 men and women between the ages of 50 and 76, it was tested to see if magnesium supplementation made a difference on future chemo treatment outcomes 37. The results suggest that magnesium supplementation may make a safe and effective support for chemotherapy, enhancing its efficacy regardless of age, gender, body type or use of other pharmaceuticals. While this looks promising, more evidence is still required before a firm conclusion can be drawn. Please consult with your doctor before opting for any nutritional support program for chemotherapy.
Clinical magnesium deficiency is rather rare in healthy individuals as our kidneys protect against drastic magnesium loss, however, subclinical magnesium deficiency is rampant. This means that magnesium levels are inadequate but not low enough to cause the most severe symptoms of magnesium deficiency. This is usually the result of not getting adequate amounts of nutrition in our diets.
Growing scientific evidence shows that consuming enough food alone is no guarantee of getting all the trace minerals we really need38. Many popular diets of today have failed to provide us with a complete range of essential elements. This makes sense when one understands that current farming practices treat the soil poorly, depleting it of many crucial components. The end result is food that contains far less of the vital nutrients that we need for optimal health.
Moreover, the absorption of magnesium has been hampered for many people due to modern food preferences and lifestyle trends.
In the last couple of decades, all these underlying factors have come together to form a series of world health problems39 largely induced by trace mineral inadequacy.
In the below quote, PhD, Dr James J DiNicolantonio highlights how the role of Magnesium in maintaining our health and well-being is not being stressed enough:
In light of this, people should be taking nutrition a lot more seriously, especially with regard to such vital trace minerals like magnesium.
It may be difficult to identify a person with subclinical magnesium deficiency. Since magnesium affects all areas of the body, symptoms will likely manifest differently in each individual.Some more common symptoms include:
Of course a person with a Magnesium shortage may not contain all of these characteristics at once.
Full-blown magnesium deficiency is far more serious, with symptoms such as:
Another point to note about magnesium is that it is often only tested for using blood tests. However, a mere 1% of all bodily magnesium levels are found in the blood at any given point and magnesium levels usually differ from tissue to tissue40. In other words, you would have to test muscle tissue, bone tissue, spinal fluid and more to get an accurate picture of whether somebody was magnesium deficient or not.
Magnesium insufficiency can be caused by many scenarios. Here are the most common:
The effects of magnesium inadequacy do not need to be risked when the solution could be a simple supplement, change in diet or both.
Your diet and lifestyle can affect your health dramatically. Here are some common factors preventing the body from absorbing magnesium:
Additionally, anything that produces free radicals in the body, such as stress and radiation41 (even from WiFi, televisions, cellphones and computers42 ) also contributes to subclinical mineral deficiency; as free radicals cause the body to use up it's trace mineral stores faster in order to repair and protect against free radical damage.
In order to avoid unwanted consequences, it is important to take care of ourselves by making healthy lifestyle decisions. The first step is to eat a balanced diet, avoid processed foods and manage your stress levels. The second step is adopting a mineral supplement, like magnesium malate, to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of nutrients on a daily basis.
Since the food we eat has a reduced amount of trace minerals, it is a good idea to consider using a good magnesium supplement, of which magnesium malate is one of the best options. Let's take a closer look at why.
Going about consuming chunks of magnesium metal will not solve magnesium insufficiency, but will probably induce heavy metal toxicity. Trace metals are not found this way naturally in our food and we are not made to absorb them like that at all!
This is why all mineral supplements are generally available in a pink salt form to make them easier for our bodies to ingest. There are many different salts that are used to create mineral supplements, including:
However, even though many of these same salts can be found inside our bodies in trace amounts, not all of them will help with the absorption of magnesium or other trace minerals in our bodies. In fact, there is some research that suggests that many of these salts (barring L-malate, citrate, acetyl taurate and threonate) have negative health effects, such as over-activating our immune systems or even destroying nerve cells!
To give you an idea of where magnesium malate stands, we have compared it against two of the above magnesium supplements: citrate and glycinate.
Magnesium Malate vs Citrate
Even though citrate also forms a part of our body's natural processes, magnesium malate has a far greater bioavailability than magnesium citrate43. Since less magnesium citrate gets absorbed by the body, more of it travels in the gut which will contribute to inducing a laxative effect. By comparison, you will absorb more of the magnesium from the malate version, meaning you will need less of it for the same benefit without the laxative effect.
Magnesium Malate vs Glycinate
Just like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate is not as bioavailable as magnesium malate. However, the portion of magnesium glycinate that is absorbed may not be such a good thing.
NMDA receptors lie on our neurons and largely control our perception of pain, pain intensity and neuroplasticity (the ability of new neural connections to form). When NMDA receptors are overstimulated, it causes too much potassium to leave the neurons which ultimately results in the neuron bursting open and dying off. Some research shows that we also have NMDA receptors in our gut neurons and that over-stimulation of these may cause severe abdominal pain46, especially in those with colitis.
Any magnesium malate you can buy in a pharmacy is likely not to be the same as the magnesium malate found in nature. Synthetic magnesium malate is made using a composite of both D-malic acid (synthetic) and L-malic acid (natural) to form DL-malic acid, which then gets converted to DL-malate.
While all the research is highly appealing on the bioavailability of magnesium malate made from DL-malic acid, DL-malic acid and especially synthetic D-malic acid both come with some adverse side effects, such as skin irritation. Check the section below on magnesium malate side effects for more information.
On the other hand, nature-derived L-malate appears to have quite a number of beneficial effects. For centuries, the Chinese and a few other cultures around the world have been making L-malic acid alongside other organic acids through fermentations, such as kombucha. These malic acid-containing edibles are ingested daily in these cultures to support good health and well-being overall, a nutritional tradition that has been passed down for centuries.
Some promising evidence is beginning to shed some light on what these organic acids may be able to do, paving the way for more research to be done. One paper has shown that L-malic acid may support strengthening the heart and promote improved wound healing in the case of injury 47. In aged rats, L-malate was shown to boost energy production48.
So while magnesium malate is excellent for magnesium absorption, it's even better to opt for a source of natural magnesium malate that uses L-malic acid for better results. One of the best known natural sources of magnesium malate is Shilajit!
Shilajit is an all-natural mineral-rich substance that is made over millions of years from decomposing plant matter subjected to high amounts of pressure inside the Earth. It is collected from very high altitudes in mountains such as the Himalayas.
What makes this supplement something to marvel over is the fact that it contains more than 80 trace minerals, all in a natural ionic form and in balanced ratios. One of these minerals includes magnesium, in the form of naturally occurring magnesium malate! Over and above this, it consists of many other revitalizing compounds unique to its composition, including Fulvic Acid, Carbon-60, Dibenzo Alpha Pyrones, Vitamins and plant antioxidants (polyphenols).
The traditional medicinal use of Shilajit has been recorded for more than 3000 years in Ayurvedic texts, with science only recently beginning to catch up. This supplement boasts all the natural magnesium malate benefits, as well as being capable of balancing any other essential trace mineral deficiency you may have. From restoring your electrolytes to providing your cells with more energy, the list of Shilajit benefits is becoming more comprehensive with every passing year!
For these reasons, we believe that Shilajit is the best magnesium malate supplement available.
Aside from Shilajit, magnesium malate is rarely found in this joint form in nature. Instead, you can find malate, L-malic acid and magnesium as separate compounds in most plants.
The leaves of a plant will contain an abundance of both malate and magnesium, as malate is necessary for respiration and magnesium forms the center of the Chlorophyll molecule. Thus, all green leafy vegetables and edible algae will contain both magnesium and malate. Examples include:
L-malic acid can be found in sour tasting fruits as well as being a by-product in some algae.
Kombucha and other acetic fermentations, such as sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) - and any other pickled foods that use vinegar - will have trace amounts of magnesium and L-malic acid.
Kombucha especially, as it is made using caffeinated tea leaves, such as green or black tea and sugar. During the process, the caffeine and sugar are consumed by the probiotic bacteria, which produce many good acids, such as L-malic acid and leave behind some of the minerals present in the tea leaves, such as magnesium.
These probiotic foods also have the added bonus of improving your gut health which tends to aid with the absorption of nutrients. To gain a higher magnesium content from fermented foods and beverages, opt for organic varieties.
The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium per day is between 400-420mg for men and 360-320mg for women, depending on your age.
Since we do get some magnesium in our diets, there is a set tolerable upper limit for magnesium supplements that maxes out at 350mg. You can usually take a magnesium supplement at any time of the day, regardless of whether you've eaten or not. Many people prefer to take it before going to sleep as it helps them to relax before bedtime.
If using Shilajit, one only needs 100-150mg to get a balanced amount of all essential trace minerals!
Magnesium malate and magnesium supplements in general are contraindicated for anyone who has severe kidney problems, such as kidney failure. When the kidneys fail to excrete magnesium, this can lead to a dangerous buildup in the body and result in toxicity.
If you are taking potassium-sparing diuretics, your magnesium excretion will also be reduced, therefore it is not advised to take a supplement.
Leave at least a 2 hour gap between taking a magnesium supplement and the following drugs, or magnesium may interfere with their efficacy:
Even though magnesium malate has been established as safe for supplemental purposes, the synthetic form of malic acid has been shown to produce some side effects.
In both animal and human studies, it was revealed that DL-malic acid may cause both skin and eye irritation. In cosmetic preparations, it was shown to cause potential allergic skin reactions49 and in high enough doses, research has revealed that it may destroy skin cells50.
In terms of synthetic magnesium malate, the magnesium portion would assist your body to some degree in producing antioxidants to help protect against any internal irritation it may produce.
However, it's still better to be safe and opt for a natural source of magnesium malate, such as Shilajit. L-malate and L-malic acid have not been documented to exude the same side effects, with research suggesting that they may have favorable benefits, such as enhancing heart vitality and boosting cellular energy.
Magnesium itself has a potent laxative effect and is able to soften up stools, especially in combination with Vitamin C and potassium. Too much magnesium can bring on diarrhea and stomach cramps.
However, out of all the forms of magnesium available, magnesium oxide produces the strongest laxative effect as only 4% of it is absorbed by the body with the rest being able to flush out your intestinal tract51. Other forms of magnesium known to do this are magnesium carbonate, chloride and gluconate. Magnesium malate has one of the least laxative effects because your body absorbs most of it.
Aside from this laxative effect, magnesium has no recorded adverse side effects unless you exceed the daily tolerable upper limit by more than 14 times! Overdosing to this extent (<5000mg) will prevent the kidneys from excreting magnesium and thus cause magnesium toxicity.
Symptoms of magnesium toxicity can result in:
Magnesium needs to be a staple part of the foods we consume together with a healthy balance of calcium. Since many people appear to be getting insufficient amounts of these essential trace minerals from their diets, the need for nutritional supplementation may be on the rise.
Natural forms of magnesium malate are ideal for boosting your energy levels and promoting nutritional equilibrium in the body; however, synthetic magnesium malate may be less desirable due to possible gut irritation.
This is the reason why we recommend balancing your diet naturally with the power of Shilajit and more green, magnesium-rich foods.