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Wondering if magnesium glycinate vs magnesium citrate may help with sleep?

Do you know which form of magnesium is best for sleep?

We are here to help.

This article will review magnesium in the body, symptoms of deficiency, benefits, how to test for deficiency, best food sources, best form of supplements and benefits for sleep.

Let’s dive in!

This information is for educational purposes only. As with any medical advice, always check with your doctor or healthcare professional for personal and age-appropriate recommendations.

Magnesium may interfere with certain medications so please check with your clinician prior to use.

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is often called the miracle mineral. It is involved in over 600 enzymatic pathways in the body (1). 

It is involved in:

  • Heart rhythm
  • Muscle function
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Nerve function
  • Cellular function
  • Brain health

Wow, now we know why it is called a miracle mineral.

Magnesium is an abundant element in the body, 4th next to calcium, potassium, and sodium. (2)

Why Are We Deficient in Magnesium?

Magnesium is in our food supply however, amounts in the diet have been declining due to soil depletion and food processing.

Taking large doses of vitamin D may lead to lower levels of magnesium. It is important to take magnesium when supplementing vitamin D as magnesium is essential for vitamin D metabolism (3).

People may have reduced absorption with bowel disease or chronic diarrhea. Use of laxatives or medications for reflux (PPI’s) may contribute to magnesium loss .

Over 50% of Americans are not getting their magnesium needs from diet (4)

What are Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?

Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:(5, 6, 7)

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Depression 
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Muscle pain

Magnesium for Sleep

Magnesium is beneficial for sleep especially in the aging population (8).  It is one of the nutrients to help with sleep quality (9).

Optimizing magnesium has been found to prevent oxidative stress and prevent chronic conditions associated with aging (10).

Other Benefits of Optimizing Magnesium in the Body

Magnesium enhances sleep however, it has many other benefits including (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)

  • Increasing exercise performance, reducing muscle pain
  • Supporting  blood sugar
  • Promoting heart health
  • Reducing migraines
  • Minimizing PMS
  • Reducing menopause symptoms
  • Optimizing brain health
  • Vitamin D metabolism

How Do You Test for Magnesium Deficiency?

Testing for magnesium can be challenging as the typical serum magnesium only represents about 1% of the body’s magnesium (18, 19).

Some alternative ways to check for magnesium are RBC magnesium or on a micronutrient test (20).

Which Foods Are Good Sources of Magnesium?

Magnesium rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, black beans, soybeans, bananas, avocados and some dairy products (21).

Magnesium Rich Foods
Magnesium Rich Foods

Magnesium Glycinate vs Magnesium Citrate and Other Forms for Sleep

There are many types of magnesium supplements on the market. 

Magnesium citrate is good for constipation and it is available in liquid or powder forms so is kid friendly.

What about magnesium glycinate for anxiety to help with sleep? Magnesium glycinate is one of my favorite forms of magnesium. It is well absorbed and may be helpful for mood, anxiety and sleep. 

NOTE: There is a small group of people with the GAD1 gene variation who do not convert glycine to GABA well. They convert it to glutamate instead which may cause more anxiety. For some who do not tolerate glycine, GABA, glutamate or bone broth, there may actually be a vitamin B6 deficiency. Ask your practitioner about a B6 supplement.

What are some other beneficial forms of magnesium (22, 23)?

Magnesium threonate has been studied for its neurological benefits (learning and memory, cognition) and its ability to cross the blood brain barrier (24, 25, 26).

Magnesium malate is well absorbed and promotes energy. It has been recommended for muscle pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome although more studies are needed. For some people , it may be stimulating so it is best to take it in the morning.

Magnesium oxide has been used for constipation as it is poorly absorbed and may actually change the pH of the stomach and reduce absorption of other nutrients (27, 28). This form is not recommended.

The magnesium RDA for women is about 360 mg/day and for men about 420 mg/day. More magnesium may be recommended depending on your condition. Always check with your healthcare provider prior to supplementation.

Forms of Magnesium
Forms of Magnesium

When to Take Magnesium for Sleep?

Taking magnesium one to two hours before bed may help to activate the  GABA receptors and support sleep (29, 30).

Final Thoughts

Magnesium is often called the miracle mineral.

Magnesium is important for the heart, muscle, glucose, nerve, cell, and brain function.

Due to soil depletion and intake of processed foods, magnesium is decreasing in the diet

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, constipation, depression, fatigue, insomnia, migraine, and muscle pain.

Testing for magnesium deficiency can be challenging.

Magnesium rich foods include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, black beans, soybeans, bananas, avocados and some dairy products.

There are many forms of magnesium with some of my favorites being magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate.

Take magnesium one to two hours before sleep however, you can take it throughout the day for other health benefits.

Remember, what you eat is important for health and disease prevention. 

What you absorb (breaking down the food) and assimilate (gets into the cells) is critical. 

Test don’t guess.

Contact me to schedule an appointment to review your personalized nutritional  health.

© Amy Archer RDN, CLT, CHWC



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