The Health Benefits of Magnesium Malate

Magnesium for energy, not over-excitation

Magnesium malate is found in apples
Magnesium malate is found in apples. Darren Robinson/Getty Images

Magnesium is important for the formation of cells, and the maintenance of muscles, bones, and nerves. Many people obtain their daily recommended amounts of magnesium through diet, however a decrease in the magnesium content of common foods in recent years has led many to incorporate supplemental magnesium into their nutritional routines as well.

Elemental magnesium is not easily taken up by the body and is much easier to absorb in the form of a salt, bound to some other substance. Magnesium malate is one such salt formulation, a combination of magnesium and malic acid. Malic acid is often taken by people looking to improve muscle performance, reduce fatigue after exercise, and improve mental focus. This particular formulation of magnesium may be helpful for conditions related to over-excitation of the neuromuscular system and is often utilized by people as a tonic by people looking for help with conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Health Benefits

Neuromuscular Excitability

While not many studies have been undertaken using the magnesium malate formulation specifically, there is promising evidence across different formulations of magnesium of its effects on conditions related to over-excitation of the neuromuscular system. According to a 2011 review, of 1687 women experiencing seizures after pregnancy, women who received an intravenous magnesium salt had a 52 percent lower risk of subsequent convulsions than those given diazepam. According to a 2001 review, several case studies demonstrate the promise of oral magnesium for alleviating bruxism, jaw clenching or teeth gnashing, a condition common to people who use stimulant medication. In addition, a study of 100 patients with type 2 diabetes found that oral magnesium supplementation improved symptoms of restless leg syndrome, a condition characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs. All of these conditions may be benefiting from magnesium's effect on hypertension and neuronal excitation.

Salt formulations made from various combinations of magnesium with other chemicals differ in their rates of intestinal absorption. If sufficient magnesium is present, the effects of one salt combination may be able to be applied to another, however the lower end threshold dose of one formulation cannot be interchanged with another. This is important to keep in mind when interpreting this research.

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A 2010 review of treatments for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome stated that magnesium malate is among the supplements with the most potential for future research for managing the symptoms of these conditions, which are characterized by feelings of low energy. Both magnesium and malic acid help produce energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which a 2008 study found to be deficient in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. A 2016 study published in the journal Pain Management suggests that low levels of magnesium and zinc in fibromyalgia patients may encourage a process called excitotoxicity, in which the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is important for activating the firing of neurons in the brain, gets carried away and overstimulates those cells to death. A 2015 feasibility study suggests supplementation of magnesium malate may boost energy and alleviate pain and tenderness in fibromyalgia patients.

Possible Side Effects

Precautions

Excess magnesium will be eliminated by the kidneys through urine, however people who take high doses of magnesium malate may experience intestinal problems, such as persistent diarrhea, bloating, or cramping. As a 2011 review explains, the more magnesium is taken orally, the smaller the percentage of oral magnesium is rapidly absorbed by the body. This can lead to retention of fluid within the colon that can cause these side effects.

According to the NIH, deficiency of magnesium during pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia and impede fetal development. During pregnancy, a woman's need for magnesium can increase to as high as 400 mg in order to be able to properly repair body tissues. Supplements are one way to meet this increased need and will not harm the baby.

Interactions

A 2016 review of forty prospective cohort studies with over 1 million participants found no significant relationship between increasing dietary magnesium by 100 mg per day and risk of total cardiovascular disease. However, according to another review, magnesium is commonly administered after cardiac surgery to prevent arrhythmias and may interact with other heart medications.

Contraindications

A 2018 review in Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease describes several clinical trials in which magnesium was shown to lower blood pressure. People who are at risk for hypotension should limit their magnesium intake and people who take blood pressure medications should talk to their doctors before taking magnesium supplements.

Dosage and Preparation

Magnesium malate supplements are most often taken orally with a meal.

According to the NIH, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of magnesium, for the population in general, varies by age and gender.

For women:

  • 19-30 years: 310 mg
  • 31-Up: 320

For men:

  • 19-39 years: 400 mg
  • 31-Up: 420

Daily dosages of malic acid generally range from 1,200 mg to 2,800 mg.

People under stress, pregnant and breastfeeding people, people with diabetes, athletes, and growing adolescents may have higher magnesium requirements and should talk to their doctors to determine an optimal dose.

What to Look For

Foods which are high in magnesium tend to be dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and unrefined grains, foods which are an important part of a healthy diet. A 2016 review found that the magnesium content of modern foods is reduced in many countries with industrial agriculture, making magnesium deficiencies more common in recent years. People who experience magnesium deficiency and rely mostly on foods grown through industrial processes may have a hard time correcting the deficiency through diet alone. Many may choose to use magnesium malate supplements and choose these over other salt formulations for their malic acid content.

Make sure you read the label as you assess which brand of magnesium malate is right for you. There will be a Supplement Facts label listing the active ingredients per serving as well as any added ingredients such as fillers, binders, and flavorings. There also may be a seal of approval from a third party quality testing organization such as ConsumerLab, U.S. Pharmacopeia, and NSF International. These seals of approval do not guarantee safety, efficacy, or evaluation by the FDA, however they do establish that the product contains the ingredients listed on the label, does not contain a harmful amount of contaminants, and was manufactured properly.

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