Do you take magnesium? There couldn’t be a better time to start taking this mineral that is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. Your body needs magnesium for approximately 300 different enzymatic reactions. However, it is estimated that over 1/3 of the Canadian population is deficient in this important mineral, which can cause many symptoms including anxiety and depressive conditions, restless legs, twitching eyelids, insomnia, muscle pain, migraines, and constipation. Magnesium supplementation could be the answer if you’re struggling with any of these symptoms or conditions. Read on to learn about some of the different formats of magnesium.

Different Forms of Magnesium

Before we get into magnesium formats, we have to touch on magnesium forms. Magnesium supplements always combine magnesium with another molecule for different effects. Some magnesium forms are magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium chelate, magnesium citrate, magnesium malate… Each magnesium form will offer its own distinct absorption, bioavailability and therapeutic application.

What is the Difference Between Elemental and Molecular Weight in Magnesium Supplements?

Elemental magnesium refers to the magnesium atoms in a compound–the amount of elemental magnesium in a supplement is actual weight of the magnesium atoms. Since magnesium is always bound to another molecule, to stabilize it and increase its absorption and bioavailability when sold as a supplement, the amount of elemental magnesium will vary from form to form (e.g. magnesium citrate and magnesium bisglycinate will have different elemental weight). Simply put, elemental weight refers to the total amount of magnesium in your supplement before it is bound to another molecule. Molecular weight refers to the weight of the magnesium and bound molecule together.

What About Magnesium Formats?

Magnesium format means the delivery mechanism of your supplement. Nowadays you can find powdered magnesium that stir into liquids, liquid magnesium that you can drink, magnesium creams, gels and sprays that you can use on sore muscles and more traditional pill formats. It’s important to note that there isn’t one ideal magnesium format. Rather, it is specific to you and how you like to take your magnesium. Let’s take a look at the different magnesium formats you can choose from:

Magnesium Pills

Magnesium pills are an easy and convenient way to get your daily dose of magnesium, and are available in capsules, softgels and tablets. Nowadays, both capsules and softgels are available with gelatin and veggie cap capsules to appeal to those with different diets. Many people take magnesium right before bed, or in smaller doses throughout the day, so it can be helpful to keep their magnesium pills in a handy spot.


If you don’t like swallowing pills, magnesium gummies may be for you. Gummies are a convenient and yummy way to get your daily dose of magnesium. Magnesium gummies are easy for kids to take, since the amount of magnesium contained in each gummy will be lower than the magnesium found in most capsules. It’s also worth pointing out that some formulas may have some added sugar, so if you are avoiding added sugar in your diet, you may want to pick another format.


You can drink your magnesium, too. Milk of magnesia was the original magnesium liquid, but these days, you can find liquid formats of magnesium that are easier to mix and drink. Liquid magnesium can be mixed into fruit juice or water and is available in standard liquid formats and newer liposomal formulas. A liquid format of magnesium can be helpful if your digestion is challenged or you don’t like taking pills. However, liquid magnesium can be less convenient to take than pill or gummy formats and if you travel often, you may want to stick with another format that’s easier to travel with.


Magnesium powder makes a wonderful bedtime drink. Usually made from magnesium citrate, nighttime magnesium powder gets combined with hot water and will help you feel ready for bed. Magnesium powders are prepared by adding a teaspoon to a mug and topping with hot water. This format is great for you if you need help unwinding before bed, and if you don’t mind the extra step it takes to prep and drink your magnesium. There are also other powder formats of magnesium available that won’t make you as drowsy.


If you have muscle stiffness or pain, topical magnesium may be for you. These days it’s easy to find the topical format that works for you. If you want to unwind after an active day, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath is a perfect way to care for tired muscles (fun fact: did you know that epsom salts contain magnesium?). A magnesium cream is another great way to nurse sore muscles and unwind before bed. If you are nursing a muscle or joint injury, you may find that a magnesium gel or spray the easiest format to get into those sore spots. Magnesium gels and sprays are easy to apply to those tough spots.

Although there’s a lot of choice, with so many different formats out there, it’s easy to find the right type of magnesium supplement for you. Do you like capsules, gummies, liquids, powders, softgels, bath salts, magnesium creams, gels or sprays? We’d love to hear. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.