Best Magnesium Supplement 2024: What Absorbs Best?

Best Magnesium Supplement 2024: What Absorbs Best?

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More and more consumers are taking magnesium supplements, and arguably for good reason. Subclinical magnesium deficiency (meaning magnesium deficiency below the severe levels that would be listed as deficient on a standard blood test) has been proven in medical research to cause cardiovascular disease.

The magnesium levels in produce have eroded due to modern farming practices, and 80% of magnesium can be lost in food processing according to medical research, so magnesium supplementation may be worthwhile for many consumers.

But what's the best magnesium supplement on the market based on research? What should consumers look for when selecting a magnesium supplement? And how does topical magnesium compare to oral magnesium?

In this article we’ll review the research on magnesium to determine which types are the best-absorbed. We’ll recommend two magnesium supplements based on their formulation and discuss the differences between oral and topical magnesium.

A YouTube video by Dr. Eric Berg is under 3 minutes long and overviews some of the benefits of magnesium: 

What's the Best-Absorbed Magnesium?

There are a variety of different magnesium supplements on the market. Some, like magnesium oxide, are just magnesium bonded with oxygen, in which case magnesium is the only active ingredient.

Other magnesium supplements like magnesium glycinate are formed by combining elemental magnesium with an amino acid called glycine. In this case, there are two active ingredients as glycine has its own biological effects.

It can be confusing to consumers to choose a magnesium supplement given that there are so many different types of magnesium. A research review published in the Biological Trace Element Research journal in 2019 analyzed the bioavailability of different popular types of magnesium to determine which types are the best-absorbed.

Interestingly, the most popular magnesium supplements performed the worst in this medical review. Magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate, which are often the cheapest forms of magnesium, led to the lowest increase in plasma magnesium levels in the animals tested.

Magnesium malate caused the largest increase in plasma magnesium levels in this trial.

A clinical trial published in the Magnesium Research journal found that magnesium citrate led to the greatest increase in blood magnesium levels compared to other forms (although magnesium malate was not among the other forms tested).

Magnesium citrate has been clinically shown to be absorbed at a 60% rate when taken with food, as we documented in our magnesium citrate vs glycinate article.

We consider these two types of magnesium to be the best options on the market.

Our Clean Magnesium Picks

Bulletproof Magnesium is our top magnesium citrate pick because it provides an effective magnesium dose, and is one of the most affordable magnesium supplements on the market at only $16.99 for a one-time purchase and $13.56 for a subscription purchase at the time of updating this article.

Designs for Health Magnesium Malate is our top magnesium malate pick, because it provides an effective magnesium dose and also passed ConsumerLab testing, which is an independent organization that tests supplements for label accuracy and contaminants. 

This supplement is priced at a more premium rate of $49.99 at the time of updating this article.

Both of the supplements recommended in this section are entirely free of any additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy. 

Is Topical Magnesium Effective?

Some consumers don’t like taking oral supplements. For those consumers, magnesium oil or Epsom salts may be a good method of increasing levels of magnesium.

It’s been proven in medical research that topical magnesium increases magnesium levels in the body through transdermal absorption. The magnesium absorbs directly into the bloodstream from the skin.

Magnesium oil and Epsom salts are both forms of magnesium sulfate. The oil is applied to the body for a short period of time (usually label recommendations range from 15-25 minutes) and then washed off. Epsom salts are typically used in a bath or foot soak, dissolved in hot water.

The transdermal method of magnesium may be a good option for patients with impaired intestinal absorption. Patients with Crohn's disease, for example, may not absorb much of an oral magnesium supplement due to their gastrointestinal issues. These patients may wish to speak to their doctor about transdermal magnesium use.

Ancient Minerals is the brand we recommend for topical magnesium products. 

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil is a spray-on oil that can be washed off.

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes are epsom salts that dissolve into warm/hot water in the bath. 

As one of the authors of this article (Calloway), I've used topical magnesium oil, as shown below:

topical magnesium supplement UGC

I've found that topical use of magnesium has relieved muscle tension that I intermittently experience, and caused a feeling of relaxation.

The only downside to this type of magnesium is that it's relatively messy, so you can't exactly use it and then sit on your couch while it soaks in. 

You need to either use it in the bathtub, or put a protective coating on a living area (like a sleeping bag on top of a couch) so that it doesn't get everywhere.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


Magnesium may be a good preventative supplement to take given that its level in food has unfortunately decreased due to modern farming practices.

Magnesium malate and magnesium citrate appear to be well-absorbed forms of magnesium based on clinical research, and we have recommended products free of additive ingredients for both forms of these forms of magnesium.

Topical magnesium is shown in clinical research to increase blood levels of magnesium, and Epsom salts and magnesium oil (both of which are made from magnesium sulfate) may be good options for those who are averse to oral supplements, for those who suffer from severe magnesium deficiency and need to utilize oral and topical supplements, and for those with impaired gut function.