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 health 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 acid1or 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 taurate - 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.
With a lack of Magnesium, the hormone Melatonin - which is responsible for the regulation of sleep - does not perform its function correctly; and as a result, you may not sleep well or may take longer to fall asleep. Using magnesium malate for sleep may especially help this process, as it has been shown in some research to reach the brain.3
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 your bone health are prone to suffer. Many studies have outlined magnesium's role in maintaining healthy bones4, some with quite promising results that suggest it may be beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis.5
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 athletes6, 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 will help both of these substances to quickly enter our cells and help to balance energy production.
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!
There is also a plausible link between magnesium deficiency and depression*, along with personality changes, apathy, mood swings and more10. In a case study conducted on 126 adults, magnesium supplementation helped to resolve mild to moderate depression with results after just 2 weeks11.
While magnesium deficiency is not the only cause for depression, a magnesium supplement is a quick way to rule out magnesium deficiency.
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 levels12, anxiety, and fatigue; all of which may negatively affect your working ability throughout the day.
When looking at the way magnesium interacts with our bodies, it appears to increase neurotransmitters that block stress, such as norepinephrine, and decrease ones that cause it, such as adrenaline and cortisol13. These stress chemicals are also implicated in chronic stress and anxiety.
Furthermore, plenty of research suggests that magnesium may well be effective for some in the treatment of anxiety, as it appears to help alleviate the symptoms of stress.
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Magnesium is required to maintain a stable calcium balance in the body. There is research to suggest that high levels of bodily calcium causes inflammation, where magnesium would bring balance back to this ratio15.
A deficiency in magnesium is associated with low-grade inflammation too and may be a risk factor for several inflammatory diseases like fibromyalgia and arthritis*.
You also need magnesium to produce bodily antioxidants like glutathione and absorb dietary nutrients like Vitamin C16. Both our bodily and dietary antioxidants help to lower inflammation in the body and keep our immune systems strong.
Magnesium has been shown to directly benefit the health 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 proved to enhance skin hydration, skin barrier function and reduce dry, flay skin17 18.
Besides these benefits, this mineral is able to improve skin conditions in many other ways:
In order to reap the benefits of magnesium on the skin, you can use magnesium soap or take an epsom salt bath. These methods easily cover the skin with the beneficial mineral, sending it directly into the bloodstream.
If you are deficient in magnesium, it can potentially help to restore the vitality to your hair as it is required by all your cells to function optimally.
When looking at postmenopausal women, a deficiency in magnesium and a few other trace minerals appear to contribute to hair loss21. Seeing as magnesium plays such an extensive role in cell division, growth, hormone production and inflammation reduction, it may be able to aid hair growth and protect against hair loss*. However, magnesium supplementation alone has never been shown to do either of these things.
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 arteries22. A deficiency in it may result in lesser heart function and vascular problems23.
Research has suggested that magnesium supplementation may provide protection against cardiovascular disease24, atherosclerosis, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, platelet aggregation and vascular calcification25 26(stiffening of the arteries). It also may improve on the risk factors for heart disease and blood vessel problems, such as fat and glucose metabolism27, especially when magnesium supplementation is placed together with a health lifestyle and a balanced diet.
In multiple studies, adequate magnesium intake was associated with a 30% lower risk of gaining cardiovascular disease and a 22% lower risk of acquiring ischemic heart disease28.
Magnesium is not the only factor that plays a role in the progression of heart disease and vascular dysfunction, but for optimal health, we need to ensure we are getting in adequate amounts of it.
Magnesium relaxes the walls of blood vessels, which may possibly aid in the fight against hypertension*. In a few research trials, it helped to lower blood pressure when potassium, sodium and calcium levels were in balance. Those with hypertension have been associated with decreased levels of bodily magnesium 30 and research also suggests that it may increase the effectiveness of antihypertensive drugs31.
Magnesium stimulates intestinal peristalsis as well as softens stools by accumulating water in our intestinal tract, which not only helps to prevent constipation but also naturally helps to get rid of 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 will have far reaching effects on all the chemical processes inside our body, including metabolism and hormone production.
Magnesium effectively relaxes the bronchial muscles and helps to regulate breathing. Magnesium deficiency is associated with those who have moderate to severe asthma33and prescribing a magnesium supplement in conjunction with treatment has helped to reduce inflammation and open the airways in both adults and children33.
In healthy individuals, magnesium plays an extensive role in our metabolism of sugar. Magnesium deficiency is associated with diabetes, insulin resistance, erratic blood sugar levels and metabolic syndrome34.
When supplementation on this trace mineral was administered to those with diabetes and prediabetes35, the results suggest that it controls blood sugar levels, raises 'good' HDL cholesterol, improved factors of metabolism, and decreased insulin sensitivity36. There is also a known link between magnesium intake and a reduced incidence of diabetes type 237.
Furthermore, magnesium malate (if made from L-malic acid) contributes to breaking down sugars in the body by removing products that inhibit glycolysis or sugar break down38.
Magnesium plays a key role in the female reproductive system. If a woman manages to maintain a good level of magnesium, she may be able to significantly reduce unwanted symptoms of PMS, including swelling, headaches, irritability, mood, and fatigue39.
Pregnant women 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 defects40.
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 lowering the risk of pancreatic cancer41. After 6.8 years, it was reported that out of all 66 806 participants, only 151 developed pancreatic cancer. It was also recorded that for every 100mg of magnesium taken, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer decreased by 24%. These results also appeared to be independent of age, gender, body type or the use of other pharmaceuticals.
While this was only used to assess the risk of pancreatic cancer*, it suggests that magnesium supplementation may help to prevent the risk of developing cancer and opens the doors for new research in this field.
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 need42. 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 problems43 largely induced by trace mineral inadequacy.
For instance, PhD, Dr James J DiNicolantonio highlights the role of Magnesium in the prevention of Cardiovascular disease, which is sweeping the world by storm, including even the most developed countries:
The list goes on as current research has began to link magnesium insufficiency with many more chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, migraines and even ADD/ADHD*.
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 tissue44. 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 radiation45 (even from WiFi, televisions, cellphones and computers46 ) 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 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 causing inflammation 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 citrate47. 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 over stimulated, 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 pain50, 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, 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.
Some promising evidence backs up these ancient health claims about organic acids, showing that L-malic acid had successfully ameliorated heart injury induced by a heart attack*, as well as reducing inflammation in the same area51. In aged rats, L-malate was shown to improve energy production52.
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 combined health benefits. 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 healthful compounds unique to its composition, including Fulvic Acid, Carbon-60, Dibenzo Alpha Pyrones, Vitamins and plant antioxidants (polyphenols).
The medicinal use of Shilajit has been recorded for more than 3000 years in Ayurvedic texts, with science on 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 will cause both skin and eye irritation. In cosmetic preparations, it was shown to cause allergic skin reactions54 and in high enough doses, research revealed that it may destroy skin cells55.
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 cardioprotection 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 tract56. 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 is 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 effective 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.