Are you using the correct form of magnesium?


In this episode of the Love Your Gut podcast, I’m giving you the full 411 on Magnesium. I commonly hear some misinformation on the internet about Magnesium, and often find clients using the wrong kind, or using the wrong dosage so I’m here to tell you everything you need to know about this mighty mineral.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What magnesium is and what it actually does [3:12]
  • The different types of magnesium and their use cases [4:20]
  • How magnesium can improve constipation and overall digestive health [10:12]
  • Answers to your magnesium FAQs from my IG stories [15:58]

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  • “Magnesium is an essential mineral it is involved in over 500 different reactions in the body, and its crucial role is helping to maintain normal muscle and nerve function” [3:17]
  • “whether you’re looking to improve your digestion or simply just support your overall health, magnesium is a mineral that should not be overlooked. ” [5:08]
  • “One of the main ways in which magnesium can improve digestive health is by regulating the muscles of the digestive tract” [10:17]
  • ” If you have excess levels of inflammation in the gut, this can damage the gut lining and lead to tons of digestive issues” [10:49]
  • “One of the easiest ways that you can increase your magnesium intake is through your diet” [12:15]
  • “Magnesium burn rate is the rate at which your body uses up magnesium to perform various metabolic functions” [21:29]


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Dr. Heather Finley

Dr. Heather Finley  00:01

really what you want to think about when choosing magnesium is one the type and to the dose. As we discussed earlier, different types of magnesium have different absorption rates and benefits. So you really want to make sure that you’re choosing the right one suited for your needs. So you wouldn’t necessarily choose magnesium malate for digestive health, but you may choose citrate or like innate.

Dr. Heather Finley  00:28

Hey, welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your guts. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.

Dr. Heather Finley  01:14

Hello, and welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut Podcast. I’m so glad you’re here. This is going to be a really fun episode all about magnesium, I get questions about magnesium all the time over on Instagram, from our clients, and even from random people that I talked to. Magnesium is very important and often a supplement that many people use, even if not just for digestive health.

Dr. Heather Finley  01:32

So I want to tell you a story that potentially you might be able to relate to. And that is the story of we’ll call her Sarah. So we had this past client, we’ll call her Sarah, she came to us and she said, I’ve you know been to every single GI doctor, all they’ve told me is to just take more MiraLAX or eat more fiber or, you know, maybe I need to just stress less and she’s like I’ve tried all the supplements I’ve taken magnesium, I’ve taken magnesium citrate, specifically, I’ve taken Miralax and my bowels are still not moving. I’m still very, very constipated. And she was taking probably upwards of 1000 milligrams of magnesium citrate a day, which if you’re unfamiliar with that dose, that’s a very very high dose of magnesium citrate, and yet she was still having really pebbly hard stool. The reason that she was experiencing this was because magnesium is just a piece of the puzzle and because there were other things going on, which I will explain to you in this episode, so stay tuned. So if you can relate to that story about Sarah feeling really frustrated taking super high levels of magnesium and not seeing any results, then this episode is for you. This episode is also for you if you’re interested in learning how to utilize magnesium to support your digestive health to support your mood to support your sleep, and overall health.

Dr. Heather Finley  03:12

So I want to talk first just to kind of open it up I want to talk about what magnesium is. Magnesium is an essential mineral it is involved in over 500 different reactions in the body, and its crucial role is helping to maintain normal muscle and nerve function. It also helps to regulate heart rhythm, it builds strong bones and in addition to this, it’s really crucial for digestive health. Reason being is that magnesium helps to regulate the muscles of the digestive tract, which can improve the movement of food through the gut and help prevent constipation. It also plays a role with stomach acid and helps with adequate stomach acid production and can also be used several forms of it can help reduce the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. There are tons of different types of magnesium available on the market, each which have their own benefits. And I’m going to talk about all the different forms because you could be using the wrong type of magnesium for what you are trying to achieve. For example, magnesium oxide is a type of magnesium that I get asked about a lot. This is a common form of magnesium that is often used as a laxative. It’s not our first choice when it comes to magnesium. Magnesium citrate is another popular form that’s fairly easily absorbed by the body can also have a laxative effect. magnesium glycinate is another form of magnesium that’s less likely to cause digestive upset and has a bit more of a calming effect on the body. It’s one of my favorite forms of magnesium personally to use. And then in addition to this, there are several others including magnesium malate magnesium three and eight, and magnesium chloride. Really Each type has its own benefits and can be used to support different aspects of health. So, really, like I said at the beginning, whether you’re looking to improve your digestion or simply just support your overall health, magnesium is a mineral that should not be overlooked.

Dr. Heather Finley  05:18

A lot of times people will refer to magnesium as the stress mineral, when you are stressed, you will use and deplete more magnesium. We see this a ton in our clients. And that’s part of the reason that Sarah, this client that I was telling you about at the beginning, was burning through so much magnesium, and I’ll talk about magnesium burn rate in a little bit as well. But let’s dig in a little bit more to the different types of magnesium and their uses.

Dr. Heather Finley  05:49

So I mentioned a magnesium oxide being a common form of magnesium that’s often used as a laxative. How it works is it draws water to the colon, it can softens stool and make it easier to pass. It can relieve constipation and improve regularity. I mentioned it’s not my most favorite form of magnesium, but it is a option.

Dr. Heather Finley  06:12

Magnesium citrate is probably the most popular form of magnesium for digestive health, in that it does have a laxative effect to help relieve constipation. It may cause some digestive upset in some people, but it can also help reduce some of the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn and because of how it interacts with stomach acid, so magnesium citrate is one that we often use with clients that are really constipated and need a little bit of water being pulled to their colon. I want to pause here for a second and explain the difference between using magnesium for constipation and using a motility agent. When I pulled you all over on Instagram asking about your questions related to magnesium, someone asked about why mo Tegrity wasn’t working for their constipation, or why motility medications previously hadn’t worked for their constipation. The reason is because motility medications help with the contraction of muscles, which is definitely necessary for having a complete bowel movement. Whereas magnesium is helpful, especially the citrate form are the oxide form helpful for drawing water to the bowels. So often our clients need both. And I may not have mentioned this at the beginning, but this is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider before you go and try some of these things. This is just general advice. definitely work with your provider.

Dr. Heather Finley  07:46

Okay, moving on. magnesium glycinate, as I mentioned, is one of my favorite forms. And it is a form of magnesium that is less likely to cause digestive upset, and it has a calming effect on the body. I want to talk about why this is really helpful. For clients like Sarah, the clients that have tried all the magnesium and are still having constipation. And stress is at play. We work with so many high achieving women that are really busy, they have corporate jobs, or they’re entrepreneurs, they have tons of things going on, they’re busy moms, and they are stressed. And when you are stressed, you need some support in that area, magnesium glycinate can be beneficial for that. So part of Sarah’s journey and working with us as we actually added in magnesium glycinate. To help with stress reduction, she noticed that she was sleeping better, she felt more relaxed, and her bowel movement started to improve in addition to some other things that we tried but citrate isn’t always the best option. Sometimes you need something that’s going to calm and relax the body. magnesium glycinate can also be used for muscle tension and cramping. So let’s say that you just did a really heavy workout, you may benefit from magnesium glycinate I often like to use magnesium glycinate before bed. There are several different powders, I’ll link some of my favorite in the show notes. But you can use like mag soothe or other magnesium glycinate powders in the evening and they can help us sleep.

Dr. Heather Finley  09:27

Some other forms of magnesium, magnesium malate, which is helpful for reducing fatigue and improving energy levels, magnesium three and eight which can support brain function.

Dr. Heather Finley  09:37

And then magnesium chloride is another form that is used topically as a spray or an oil, which was also one of the questions that I received on Instagram about how well the topicals work and I will get to that in a second. So really what I want you to understand here is that there are different types of magnesium that could have different absorption rates. time and may be better suited for specific health conditions. It’s always best to consult your provider before starting something new, and to figure out the best dosage for your needs.

Dr. Heather Finley  10:12

So now I want to talk specifically about how magnesium can improve digestive health. One of the main ways in which magnesium can improve digestive health is by regulating the muscles of the digestive tract. And this can help move food and waste through the gut to prevent constipation. So this can help reduce symptoms if you have IBS type symptoms such as bloating, cramping, diarrhea, magnesium can be really helpful for this. Magnesium also can support gut health by promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria and reducing inflammation. If you have excess levels of inflammation in the gut, this can damage the gut lining and lead to tons of digestive issues. Overall, we want to reduce inflammation in the gut. And magnesium can certainly help do that I mentioned earlier but magnesium can also help regulate stomach acid levels, which can potentially reduce some of the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn that you might be experiencing. And so if you do have heartburn related issues, one of our Go twos is using magnesium to help relax that lower esophageal sphincter will often use magnesium for that specifically, and we find that it helps with the gastric emptying. And it also helps with some of the acid reflux symptoms that can come along with this. In addition to this, as I mentioned earlier with magnesium glycinate, magnesium can reduce stress and help with relaxation. And we know from working now with over 1000 clients in the gut Together program. Stress is the number one trigger for digestive issues. And it can exacerbate any type of IBS related symptoms, whether you have constipation or diarrhea, or SIBO, or whatever it is, stress is the number one culprit that we see. And as I mentioned earlier, magnesium is the stress mineral. So you need magnesium when you’re stressed. And when you have digestive issues, you automatically have more stress on your body because your body is fighting hard to get rid of those issues. So we want to promote relaxation, and we want to help reduce stress levels in order to improve digestive health. So if you aren’t convinced already having magnesium is a crucial mineral for digestive health and can really improve a range of digestive issues. I want to talk about some ways in which you can incorporate magnesium for better digestive health. You don’t just have to use supplements. One of the easiest ways that you can increase your magnesium intake is through your diet. And this is something that we encourage our clients to do. There’s definitely a time and a place for supplementation. But for the long term, you want to make sure that you’re including these magnesium rich foods into your diet to help prevent symptoms down the road.

Dr. Heather Finley  13:12

Hey there, I know you’re absolutely loving this episode on gut health. But I have to interrupt to ask you a favor. If you haven’t enjoyed the love your gut podcast, the best way that you can support us is by leaving a rating and review on your favorite podcast platform. Your ratings and reviews help us reach so many more people and spread the word about the importance of gut health. So go on over hit a five star rating and leave a review letting others know how much you love the show and what your favorite episode was. I truly appreciate your support and can’t wait to bring you more good loving content.

Dr. Heather Finley  13:47

Foods like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, legumes, pumpkin seeds, these all have high levels of magnesium. And so by including more of these foods in your diet, you can actually naturally boost your magnesium intake and support your digestive health. And all these foods are really easy to just add to your meals. So in addition to this, if you are looking for a supplemental form of magnesium, in addition to adding the foods in, you can get magnesium and tablets and capsules and powders even now in gummies, which is another question that I received. But really what you want to think about when choosing magnesium is one the type and to the dose. As we discussed earlier, different types of magnesium have different absorption rates and benefits. So you really want to make sure that you’re choosing the right one suited for your needs. So you wouldn’t necessarily choose magnesium malate for digestive health, but you may choose citrate or glycinate

Dr. Heather Finley  14:53

another one of my favorite ways to incorporate magnesium into my routine specifically is through Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts are a form of magnesium sulfate that can be absorbed through the skin. And adding in Epsom salts can help you relax, reduce stress, help with detoxification, and promote better sleep. And we know the connection between sleep and gut health. And when you can sleep better and rest and digest quote unquote, it will help support your gut health. It will reduce inflammation in your gut, promote relaxation, and overall you will feel better.

Dr. Heather Finley  15:34

Lastly, another way that I incorporate magnesium into my diet or into my day to day is through magnesium rich herbs. Herbs, like basil and dill and parsley are rich in magnesium. And those are very easy to add to your dinner or your lunch or whatever you’re making, and sauces or dressings or as a seasoning on whatever you are cooking.

Dr. Heather Finley  15:58

Okay, I want to get into some of the common questions that I received over on Instagram. So the first question that I received was, what is the data regarding topical magnesium absorption. So there’s several studies actually on this, and studies suggest that topical magnesium absorption can actually be a really effective way to increase magnesium levels in the body. So if you have really severe gut issues, and you aren’t absorbing things very well, a topical may actually be better suited for you. Whether that is via Epsom salts, or from some of the creams, lotions, etc, that are available. There was one study published in the Journal of integrative medicine that found that transdermal magnesium therapy increased magnesium levels in the blood. without the side effects often associated with oral supplementation. There was another study in the Journal of Nutrition that found that magnesium absorption through the skin was actually higher than oral absorption. So I will link some of my favorite topical magnesium in the chat as well as my favorite epson salts that I often use. But if you are pill adverse, which to be honest, I don’t love taking supplements either. I do because I need some, but I would like to try to incorporate things that aren’t pills. So one way that I get around supplementing with magnesium is through either powders or Epsom salts. So I will link that in the show notes. It’s really important to note also that the efficacy of topical magnesium could also depend on one the brand and to the type of magnesium that’s used. And then you could have individual variations in your skin absorption. But overall, what we know from the research is that transdermal creams and topical magnesium is a very effective way to get magnesium into your body.

Dr. Heather Finley  17:55

The next question that I got was, how long does it take to see a difference with magnesium supplementation? And I really hate to say it depends. That’s like the the common answer that I give to so many things I feel like but it really does depend. Sometimes we see clients have huge benefits within a week or days. And then sometimes it really takes a long time, like months. And really the issue here are the factors here are number one, your current magnesium status. If you’re super magnesium depleted, it’s going to take you some time to actually be able to see the benefits from that the type of magnesium supplement used can also matter here, and also the dosage and the frequency. If you’re taking this every day, and you’re really consistent with it and you’re taking a decent dose, then you could see a difference pretty soon. So as I mentioned, some people may notice an improvement within days, and some people will take weeks or months. So what you also want to know here is magnesium works best when it’s taken consistently, as opposed to just sporadic use. And also keep in mind that there’s a way to consistently get magnesium via your diet versus having to take supplements lifelong. And maybe when you’re under periods of high stress is when you pick up the magnesium again, but maybe if you’re in a season where you’re getting plenty of sleep and work isn’t very stressful and things are going really well. Then you’re getting magnesium through your diet and you may not need it via a supplement.

Dr. Heather Finley  19:38

Okay, the next question that I got was, why do I get fatigued with magnesium supplementation? And in my mind, there’s probably four reasons why you’re getting fatigued. Number one is the dosage. Maybe you’re just taking too much. Maybe based on your mineral status. You’re taking too much magnesium And it’s leading to fatigue and drowsiness. So you may want to decrease the dose. Number two is maybe it’s the type of magnesium. Some types, such as oxide, are known to have a laxative effect, like I mentioned, or citrate, and maybe it’s giving you diarrhea and you’re dehydrated. This can definitely cause fatigue and weakness, or if you’re taking magnesium glycinate. And this does help with stress and relaxation, maybe again, it’s just too much. There are other medications and supplements that can interact with magnesium supplements, which is why it’s always important to talk to your health care provider. I’m not going to list all of them on this episode, but you may just want to consult your provider to make sure that you’re taking the right type and the right amount. And then really, there could be a genetic component as well. Some individuals may just be more sensitive to the effects of magnesium, which could make you more drowsy or fatigued.

Dr. Heather Finley  20:59

Okay, so going back to the story that I talked about with Sarah, at the beginning, and how she had been on so much magnesium, was still having rockhard pebley stools, and felt really hopeless about her digestive issues. If this is you. The the question that I received the most when I put this poll up was, Why do I have no improvements after high doses of magnesium. And one of the things that I want to discuss is something called magnesium burn rate. Magnesium burn rate is the rate at which your body uses up magnesium to perform various metabolic functions. So there are factors such as stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, and even medications, that can increase the burn rate of magnesium, which can lead to a chronic deficiency of this mineral in the body. When someone has a high magnesium burn rate, they may not respond to high doses of magnesium, because your body is using it so quickly, and it’s not retaining it. So this means that even though you’re taking tons of magnesium, your body is still deficient in this mineral. So really to effectively address this issue, we have to identify where the fire is coming from and address the root cause of the high burn rate. For us, we often see the high burn rate from stress. And I’m not just talking about stress as in like you’re stressed about your job, I’m talking about stress from not sleeping enough stress from potentially under eating or stress from too intensive exercise stress from underlying gut issues such as dysbiosis, H, pylori infections, parasites, etc. Stress from lack of variety in the diet, low levels of good bacteria in your gut, et cetera, et cetera, honestly, the list can go on. So really, when we see someone like this, we’re looking at what’s causing this. And it could also be imbalances and other minerals. One test that we often like to use for our clients is something called an htma, a hair tissue mineral analysis. And this is looking at mineral ratios and mineral levels. And when we see someone that does this test, we often have a very clear picture of why they aren’t responding to high doses of magnesium, because most likely other minerals in the body are off. And the thing about minerals is they don’t work in isolation, they work together. So we want to address all the minerals, so that your body can actually respond to the magnesium.

Dr. Heather Finley  23:42

The other question that I got was about when there is a best time to take magnesium glycinate. Specifically glycinate is, as I mentioned earlier, the type of magnesium that helps with stress and relaxation. We often recommend this before bed, but you can take it really at any time of the day. And it might be worth just experimenting. And to see how your body responds, we often will recommend our clients take it with either dinner or breakfast. Taking it with a meal can sometimes help with absorption. And you can also split the dose. So if you find that you’re really stressed in the beginning of the day, because your mornings are crazy and you’re trying to get your kids out of the door so you can get to work or so you can hop on your zoom calls or whatever. Maybe taking a little magnesium might help you to make it through the morning in a more relaxed manner. And then you could take some more before bed so you kind of have consistent magnesium levels throughout the day. There are also slow release magnesium supplements where you can take them and they will release throughout the day which can also be beneficial as well. And then probably the most common time that people will take magnesium, glycan. As I mentioned is before bed just because it helps promote relaxation. If you’re not taking too high of a dose, I wouldn’t worry too much about taking it in the morning, it will just calm you versus putting you to sleep.

Dr. Heather Finley  25:12

And then the last question that I received was, are the gummies as effective? And the answer is no, most likely no. Number one is they have definitely a lower magnesium content. gummies typically have lower amounts of magnesium compared to pills or powder, which can limit their effectiveness. Another one is some of the added ingredients could just diminish some of the overall value there. There could be absorption issues as well. gummies are not as readily absorbed as pills or powder. So that could impact their bioavailability. And maybe effectiveness. And some may not dissolve properly. Depending on what your gut issues look alike. If you have low stomach acid, or you have trouble digesting things gummies might be not for you. And then of course, everybody’s needs are different. So any individual variation in metabolism or absorption could overall impact the effectiveness of magnesium gummies.

Dr. Heather Finley  26:16

So it was a lot all on magnesium. And I want to just kind of recap a little bit. So bringing it back to the client, Sarah, that I shared about at the beginning of the episode, this is not an isolated incident, Sara is a very common situation that we see in our clients. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s because there’s so much more to the picture. Magnesium, as you’ve learned is very important and can be very beneficial for overall digestive health. But not without the entire context of a full gut health protocol, we can’t just usually take magnesium to fix digestive issues, because more than likely, if you’re extremely constipated, and only going to the bathroom every couple of days, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have really severe diarrhea, or you have acid reflux, et cetera, there are other things at play. So we can use magnesium as a tool as part of an overall plan to help you get where you want to be. But we also have to take a step back, because if you are in a situation like Sara, where you’ve tried really high levels of magnesium, and you’re just not responding to those high doses of magnesium, there’s probably a reason why. And more than likely, it’s related to some kind of underlying gut issue, or your other minerals. There could be other minerals that are off. And that’s where testing can be really, really helpful. And there also could be some other underlying fire, even just stress in your life, maybe your magnesium burn rate is super high. And we want to really evaluate why.

Dr. Heather Finley  28:00

So I invite any questions that you have about magnesium, hop on over to Instagram send me a DM, tell me what was helpful I will make sure to link several of my favorite magnesium creams and powders etc. in the show notes if you want to try them out, and we’d love to hear how this helps you what your biggest takeaway was, and I look forward to seeing you next time on the next episode of the love your gut podcast.

Dr. Heather Finley  28:29

As always, please note that this episode or anything discussed on this podcast is not a substitution for medical advice and you should always consult your health practitioner before trying anything new.

Dr. Heather Finley  28:41

Thanks so much for tuning in to today’s episode of the love your gut podcast. I have a new quiz that I’m so excited for you to take it is called which popular song describes your gut health issues. So if you’re ready to find out if you’re a slow down by Lenin seller or Don’t Stop Believin by journey in the world of gut health, it’s time to head over to to take this new quiz and find out if your gut is rockin and rollin or more of a slow jam. And until next time, remember to love your gut so it will love you back

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