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Magnesium is an essential mineral  that exists in the form of inorganic, organic, or amino-complexed salts. Each of these forms does not have the same bioavailability. Food supplement brands are increasingly communicating about this topic, in response to consumers who are becoming more demanding when choosing a product that will take care of their bones, their nervous system, or their vitality.

What is magnesium?

As the fifth most abundant mineral in the body, after calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, magnesium plays an essential role in many biological functions. It is involved in bone health, the functioning of the nervous system, protein synthesis, vascular function, and vitality.

The human body contains 25g of magnesium, with 60% stored in the bones, 25% in muscles, 14% in tissues, and 1% in the blood.[1]

Sources of magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is not synthesized by the body and must, therefore, be obtained through dietary sources. There are different food sources rich in magnesium, including marine origin foods such as sardines, wakame, and spirulina, nuts, chocolate, whole grains, and mineral waters.[2]

Forms of magnesium

Magnesium comes in various forms, always bound to another molecule. We distinguish inorganic magnesium salts (such as magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride), organic magnesium salts (such as magnesium lactate and magnesium citrate), and amino-complexed magnesium salts, also known as third-generation salts (such as magnesium bisglycinate).

Each form of magnesium has different bioavailability, meaning different capacities for absorption and utilization by the body, as well as different digestive tolerance.

Among these different forms, magnesium citrate is renowned for its high bioavailability, due to its better solubility thanks to citric acid[3]. Magnesium bisglycinate also enjoys a good reputation with excellent bioavailability thanks to its connection with an amino acid. Moreover, it has very good digestive tolerance.

Existing Needs within the Population

Despite the importance of magnesium for health, many people have insufficient magnesium intake. In fact, studies have shown that 75% of men and 77% of women[4] do not meet their magnesium requirements. Certain population groups have increased magnesium needs, such as pregnant women, athletes, the elderly, and individuals under high stress. Furthermore, some genetic variations can affect magnesium retention in the body, such as the HLA B35 gene, which affects approximately 18% of the French population and results in poorer intracellular magnesium fixation.[5]

The magnesium market

Magnesium is among the most consumed food supplements. [6]

Magnesium is one of the most consumed food supplements on the market. In Europe, approximately 1 out of 3 food supplement consumers has taken magnesium in the last 12 months, and for 50% of them, this intake is regular.

The consumption of magnesium is higher in certain countries such as Poland, Slovenia, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Germany.

Additionally, women tend to consume more magnesium than men. Several reasons can be hypothesized for this trend: women consume more food supplements than men, particularly in France[7], pregnancy increases the need for magnesium, and stress, which affects 64% of women in France, is proportionally 10% less prevalent among men.[8]

In what forms can magnesium be found on the market?

Food supplements containing magnesium are available in various forms, including powder, tablets, and liquid solutions. Some products combine magnesium with vitamin B6 because this vitamin plays a role in the absorption of magnesium by tissues, facilitating its entry into intestinal cells. This combination is often used to combat fatigue and stress.[9][10][11]

For what promises?

Magnesium supplementation offers multiple health benefits. It helps maintain good bone health[12], promotes vitality [4], supports the proper functioning of the nervous system,[13] participates in protein[14] synthesis, and contributes to vascular function[4]. Moreover, numerous health claims are authorized for magnesium, related to its various beneficial properties.

What Do Consumers Demand?

Naturalness is a major criterion: 78% of consumers state that the products’ naturalness is one of their purchase drivers.[7] In this context, there is an increasing demand for formulas “without unnecessary additives” among consumers. This trend is accompanied by a strong need for education from laboratories.

Do you have questions about the production of magnesium-based food supplements? Don’t hesitate any longer, contact us now for expert answers and personalized advice.

[1] RJ. Elim, « Assessment of magnesium status » 1987
[2] Ciqual. https://ciqual.anses.fr/
[3] Walker AF, Marakis G, Christie S, Byng M. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study. Magnes Res. 2003 Sep;16(3):183-91.
[4] Hercberg, S. Preziosi, P. Briancon, S. Galan, P. Triol, I. Malvy, D. Roussel, AM and Favier, A primary prevention trial using nutritionnal doses of antioxidant vitamins and minerals in cardiovascular diseases and cancers in a general population: SU.VI.MAX study–design, methods, and participant characteristics. 1998
[5] J.G Henrotte The Variability of Human Red Blood Cell Magnesium Level according to HLA groups. HLA Volume 15, issue 5, pages 407 – 511, May 1980.
[6] IPSOS, Consumer survey on food supplements in the EU
[7] Harris Interactive et Synadiet, Baromètre 2023 de la consommation des compléments alimentaires en France, 2023
[8] Etude Ifop pour Mes bienfaits, Etude sur l’anxiété et les actions mises en place pour la réduire, mars 2022
[9] S W Golf, S Bender, J Grüttner, On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress, 1998
[10] M. Roche, 2006 Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6.
[11] Efsa, 2012. RÈGLEMENT (UE) N° 432/2012
[12] Thomas O Carpenter, Maria C DeLucia, Jane Hongyuan Zhang, Gina Bejnerowicz, Lisa Tartamella, James Dziura, Kitt Falk Petersen, Douglas Befroy, Dorothy Cohen, A randomized controlled study of effects of dietary magnesium oxide supplementation on bone mineral content in healthy girls, 2006
[13] Forrest H Nielsen, LuAnn K Johnson, Huawei Zeng, Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep, 2011
[14] Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition, page 245, table 49
[15] E K D’Angelo, H A Singer, C M Rembold, Magnesium relaxes arterial smooth muscle by decreasing intracellular Ca2+ without changing intracellular Mg2+, 1988