Magnesium vs. Magnesium Citrate

What's the Difference?

Magnesium and Magnesium Citrate are both forms of the essential mineral magnesium, but they differ in terms of their composition and properties. Magnesium is a naturally occurring element that is found in various foods and is crucial for numerous bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, energy production, and bone health. On the other hand, Magnesium Citrate is a magnesium salt derived from citric acid. It is commonly used as a dietary supplement or as a laxative due to its ability to promote bowel movements. While both forms provide the benefits of magnesium, Magnesium Citrate is often preferred for its higher bioavailability and faster absorption rate.


AttributeMagnesiumMagnesium Citrate
Chemical FormulaMgC12H10Mg3O14
State at Room TemperatureSolidSolid
Atomic Number12N/A
Atomic Mass24.305451.1 g/mol
Common UsesAlloying agent, dietary supplementDietary supplement, laxative
SolubilityInsoluble in waterSoluble in water
BenefitsSupports bone health, nerve function, muscle contractionSupports digestion, relieves constipation

Further Detail


Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including energy production, muscle contraction, nerve function, and bone health. Magnesium citrate, on the other hand, is a specific form of magnesium that is commonly used as a dietary supplement. In this article, we will explore the attributes of both magnesium and magnesium citrate, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Sources and Absorption

Magnesium can be obtained from a variety of food sources, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. It is also available in supplement form. Magnesium citrate, as the name suggests, is a magnesium salt of citric acid. It is commonly used in supplements due to its high bioavailability, meaning it is easily absorbed by the body. When consumed, magnesium citrate dissociates into magnesium ions and citrate, allowing for efficient absorption in the intestines.

Benefits and Functions

Magnesium, in general, is involved in numerous physiological processes. It supports energy production by aiding in the conversion of food into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body's primary energy molecule. It also plays a vital role in muscle contraction and relaxation, making it essential for athletes and individuals with muscle-related conditions. Additionally, magnesium is crucial for maintaining proper nerve function, regulating blood pressure, and supporting bone health.

Magnesium citrate shares these benefits and functions with magnesium. As a highly bioavailable form, it can effectively support energy production, muscle function, and nerve health. Moreover, magnesium citrate has been widely used as a natural laxative due to its ability to draw water into the intestines, promoting bowel movements. This property makes it particularly useful for individuals experiencing occasional constipation.

Supplement Use and Dosage

Magnesium supplements are available in various forms, including magnesium citrate. The dosage of magnesium supplements depends on several factors, such as age, sex, and specific health conditions. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies between 310-420 mg per day for adults, with higher requirements during pregnancy and lactation. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage for individual needs.

When it comes to magnesium citrate supplements, the dosage typically ranges from 200-400 mg per day. However, it is crucial to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or healthcare professional. It is worth noting that excessive magnesium intake can lead to adverse effects, such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Therefore, it is essential to avoid exceeding the recommended dosage.

Side Effects and Interactions

While magnesium is generally safe for most individuals when taken in appropriate doses, it can cause gastrointestinal side effects, especially when consumed in excess. These side effects may include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. Individuals with kidney problems should exercise caution when taking magnesium supplements, as impaired kidney function can lead to magnesium accumulation in the body.

Magnesium citrate, due to its laxative properties, is more likely to cause diarrhea and loose stools compared to other forms of magnesium. This effect can be beneficial for individuals struggling with occasional constipation but may be undesirable for those with sensitive digestive systems. It is advisable to start with a lower dosage and gradually increase it to avoid potential digestive discomfort.

Furthermore, magnesium supplements, including magnesium citrate, may interact with certain medications. For example, they can interfere with the absorption of antibiotics, bisphosphonates (used for osteoporosis), and some diuretics. It is crucial to inform healthcare professionals about any ongoing medications to prevent potential interactions.


Magnesium and magnesium citrate are both valuable sources of this essential mineral. While magnesium is naturally present in various foods, magnesium citrate offers a highly bioavailable form that is commonly used in supplements. Both forms provide similar benefits, including support for energy production, muscle function, and nerve health. However, magnesium citrate's laxative properties make it particularly useful for individuals experiencing occasional constipation. It is important to follow recommended dosages and consult with healthcare professionals to ensure safe and effective use of magnesium supplements.

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