Magnesium Glycinate: Benefits, Side Effects, & Dosage

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Magnesium glycinate is a popular magnesium supplement for those who may be deficient in this critical nutrient and it is known to help with a variety of medical conditions.

What is Magnesium Glycinate?

Magnesium glycinate is technically the magnesium salt of glycine, and therefore contains one magnesium and two glycine molecules. Also known as magnesium diglycinate, this dietary supplement is a safe way to introduce additional magnesium to your diet, although magnesium is readily available in many foods, such as leafy greens, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. The glycinate form of magnesium is notably very good at being absorbed by the body, meaning that it is highly effective as a dietary supplement.

Given that experts believe that nearly half the population is deficient in magnesium, supplementation may be a good thing to consider. Magnesium deficiency can lead to nausea, fatigue, nervous system problems, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, and even abnormal heart rhythms. The most common recommendation for daily magnesium intake is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women, though this may differ based on age and physiological conditions. While there are numerous magnesium supplements on the market, the glycinate varietal has proven to be effective for numerous medical issues.

A table full of tablets

Magnesium glycinate is good for sleep. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Let us take a look at the benefits of magnesium glycinate.

Magnesium Glycinate for Sleep

The glycine part of the glycinate molecule is also quite useful for the body, as it has a calming effect on the brain, which can help to induce sleep. This amino acid is also responsible for lowering your core body temperature, which is the condition we’re in while sleeping. Numerous studies have found that this glycinate can also decrease abnormal heart rhythms and soothe the nervous system, aiding people who have restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and other sleep-related issues, as shown in this article from Sleep Disorders Medicine. The moderate effect that magnesium can have on high blood pressure can also help ease you into slumber! [1]

Magnesium Glycinate for Anxiety

Closely related to its effects on a person’s sleep quality, magnesium glycinate is also helpful for those suffering from anxiety or high levels of chronic stress. If you have low levels of magnesium, it tends to be correlated with low levels of serotonin. With a decrease in serotonin, you’re more likely to experience depressive episodes or feelings, whereas boosting your magnesium levels can release more of this “feel-good” hormone. [2]

Other Benefits

Aside from those closely related relaxation benefits of magnesium, this dietary supplement has other health effects, including soothing the gastrointestinal system, maintaining heart and nervous system health, managing diabetes, reducing migraines, and boosting bone health.

  • Cardiovascular System: As mentioned above, this supplement can help with hypertension problems, thus protecting you from coronary heart diseases, heart attack, and stroke. [3]
  • Digestive Health: If you suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion, using this type of supplement can help to reduce the acidity in your gut and prevent the discomfort of these common complaints. [4]
  • Diabetes: Magnesium has been linked with lowering one’s risk of type 2 diabetes, as it can increase insulin resistance by aiding in the normal breakdown of sugars. Supplementing with glycinate may be a good idea for those at risk for diabetes, as shown in this study published in Clinical Nutrition. [5]
  • Bone Density: Magnesium is one of the key minerals in our bones, so if you want to improve bone density and lower your risk of osteoporosis or broken bones, magnesium supplementation can help in that effort. [6]
  • Thyroid Function: A magnesium deficiency is often connected to an enlarged thyroid gland, commonly called a goiter. Magnesium helps in the activation and release of thyroid hormone, so ensuring you have a sufficient amount in your system is crucial. [7]


As explained earlier, the daily recommended amount of magnesium in your diet is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. This may vary slightly for younger subjects, but this is an appropriate estimation for adults. Most supplements come in 100 or 125 mg capsules/tablets, so you would need 3-4 per day, if you were only getting magnesium through supplementation. However, it is important to remember that you can also get magnesium from dietary sources. Always speak to your doctor or nutritionist about your nutrient levels and pre-existing conditions, as well as any medications you may currently be taking. Some drugs can increase the body’s release of magnesium, which could make supplementation necessary. [8]

Side Effects

Although glycinate has less of a laxative effect than many other magnesium supplements, there are still some potential side effects to watch for if you are going to begin using this supplement. The most common complaint is stomach upset or diarrhea, which should be mild. Severe allergic reactions are rare, but discontinue use and consider seeking medical attention if you experience itching, swelling, difficulty breathing or dizziness. Those with heart or kidney problems should definitely speak with their doctor before using this supplement. Unlike many supplements, this one is appropriate during pregnancy, as it can have a number of benefits, but be sure to use glycinate under your doctor’s supervision. [9]

Magnesium Glycinate vs Citrate

Magnesium glycinate is not the only magnesium supplement on the market. Magnesium oxide, gluconate, chloride, aspartate, hydroxide, and citrate are all other varieties, each with their own pros and cons, i.e., higher or lower absorption rate, different densities of pure magnesium, and intended for different conditions.

Magnesium citrate is another very popular form, and is comparable to glycinate in its absorption by the body. However, it is highly soluble in water and is absorbed in a different part of the digestive system, making it far more laxative in nature. Instead of being bound to a glycine molecule, the magnesium is bound to a citrate molecule. While glycinate seems to have a wide array of medical conditions that it affects, magnesium citrate seems primarily used as a laxative agent for symptomatic constipation. [10] Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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