Magnesium citrate vs magnesium chloride

by | Oct 12, 2023

In the realm of dietary supplements, magnesium is often hailed as a vital mineral for our overall health. It plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle contractions, nerve signaling, and bone health. However, not all magnesium supplements are created equal. Two popular variants, magnesium citrate vs magnesium chloride, often find themselves in the spotlight. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the world of magnesium supplements, comparing magnesium citrate vs magnesium chloride. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a clear understanding of the distinctions, benefits, and best uses of these two magnesium forms.

Table of Contents


Magnesium is a mineral that contributes significantly to our well-being, participating in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. While it can be obtained through diet, many individuals turn to supplements to meet their daily magnesium needs efficiently. Among the plethora of magnesium supplements available, magnesium citrate vs magnesium chloride stand out for their unique properties and potential health benefits.

In this guide, we’ll explore the characteristics, absorption rates, health advantages, and potential side effects of magnesium citrate vs magnesium chloride. By the end of our journey, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about which magnesium supplement aligns with your health goals.

Magnesium Citrate: The All-Purpose Choice

High Absorption, Fast Results

Magnesium citrate is a salt form of magnesium combined with citric acid. It is renowned for its high bioavailability, which means it’s readily absorbed by the body. This quality makes magnesium citrate an excellent choice for individuals with magnesium deficiency or those looking for quick relief from symptoms like muscle cramps or constipation.

Gastrointestinal Benefits

One of the standout features of magnesium citrate is its natural laxative effect. It works by drawing water into the intestines, softening the stool, and promoting regular bowel movements. This property makes it a popular choice for those struggling with occasional constipation.

Versatility in Dosage Forms

Magnesium citrate supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and liquid solutions. This versatility allows individuals to choose a format that suits their preferences and needs.

Health Benefits

Magnesium citrate is associated with several health benefits, including:

  1. Muscle Relaxation: It aids in muscle relaxation and can alleviate muscle cramps and spasms.
  2. Improved Digestion: As mentioned earlier, it helps with constipation and supports healthy digestion.
  3. Bone Health: Magnesium is essential for maintaining strong bones, making it beneficial for bone health.

Magnesium Chloride: The Versatile Contender

Fundamental Properties

Magnesium chloride is another magnesium salt, but it differs from magnesium citrate in terms of chemical structure and benefits. This compound is highly soluble in water, which means it can be absorbed efficiently when consumed orally or applied topically.

Transdermal Application

One unique feature of magnesium chloride is its suitability for transdermal application. This means you can absorb magnesium through your skin, making it an option for individuals who may have difficulty with oral supplementation or prefer topical treatments.

Health Benefits

Magnesium chloride is associated with a range of health benefits, such as:

  1. Improved Skin Health: It can promote healthy skin and may help with skin conditions like eczema or acne.
  2. Pain Relief: Topical magnesium chloride is used for pain relief, especially for sore muscles and joint pain.
  3. Stress Reduction: Magnesium plays a role in stress management and relaxation.

Absorption and Bioavailability

Magnesium Citrate Absorption

Magnesium citrate boasts impressive bioavailability, with absorption rates ranging from 25% to 30%. This means that a significant portion of the magnesium you consume from magnesium citrate supplements is absorbed by your body, making it an effective choice for addressing magnesium deficiency.

Magnesium Chloride Absorption

Magnesium chloride also offers good absorption rates, though slightly lower than magnesium citrate, typically ranging from 10% to 20%. However, its versatility in application methods, including transdermal absorption, makes it an attractive option for those with specific needs or preferences.

Health Benefits

Common Ground: Shared Benefits

Both magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride share several health benefits, thanks to their magnesium content. These include:

  1. Heart Health: Magnesium plays a role in maintaining a healthy heart rhythm and blood pressure.
  2. Nerve Function: It supports proper nerve function and can help reduce the risk of nerve-related conditions.
  3. Energy Production: Magnesium is essential for energy production at the cellular level.

Choosing the Right Supplement for You

Personal Considerations

When choosing between magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. Here are some factors to take into account:

  1. Digestive Sensitivity: If you have a sensitive digestive system or frequently experience gastrointestinal discomfort, magnesium citrate’s natural laxative effect may be a drawback. In such cases, magnesium chloride or topical application might be a better option.
  2. Purpose of Use: Determine your primary reason for taking a magnesium supplement. Are you aiming to alleviate muscle cramps, support digestion, improve skin health, or address a different concern? Your goal can influence your choice.
  3. Application Preference: Consider how you prefer to take your magnesium supplement. Are you comfortable with oral supplements, or do you prefer topical application? Magnesium chloride’s transdermal option may be appealing if you’re looking for an alternative delivery method.
  4. Consult a Healthcare Professional: If you’re uncertain about which magnesium supplement is right for you or have underlying health conditions, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and medical history.

Potential Side Effects

Magnesium Citrate Side Effects

While magnesium citrate is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience side effects, particularly when taken in high doses. These potential side effects include:

  1. Diarrhea: Excessive magnesium citrate intake can lead to diarrhea due to its laxative effect.
  2. Gastrointestinal Upset: Some people may experience mild stomach discomfort or nausea.

Magnesium Chloride Side Effects

Magnesium chloride also has a low risk of side effects, but in rare cases, individuals may encounter:

  1. Skin Irritation: When used topically, magnesium chloride may cause skin irritation or redness in sensitive individuals.
  2. Digestive Discomfort: Like magnesium citrate, it can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort in high doses.

It’s important to adhere to recommended dosage guidelines and consult a healthcare provider if you have concerns about side effects or interactions with other medications.


In conclusion, the comparison between magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride reveals distinct advantages and applications for each form of this essential mineral. Magnesium citrate stands out for its high bioavailability and effectiveness in addressing issues like muscle cramps and constipation. On the other hand, magnesium chloride offers versatility, particularly through transdermal application, making it a valuable choice for those with specific needs. Ultimately, the right magnesium supplement for you depends on your individual goals and preferences. Whichever path you choose, consulting with a healthcare professional is a wise step toward optimal health and well-being.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine the right dosage for magnesium supplements?

Determining the appropriate magnesium dosage depends on various factors, including age, sex, and individual health needs. As a general guideline, adults may consider a daily magnesium intake of 300-400 milligrams. However, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized recommendations.

Can I take magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride on an empty stomach?

Yes, both magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride can be taken on an empty stomach. In fact, taking them with an empty stomach may enhance their absorption. However, if you experience any digestive discomfort, you can take them with a meal.

Are there any interactions between magnesium supplements and medications?

Magnesium supplements may interact with certain medications, including antibiotics, diuretics, and medications for heart conditions. To ensure your safety, consult your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications before starting magnesium supplementation.

Is magnesium safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women?

Magnesium is essential for both pregnant and breastfeeding women, but it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. They can provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and form of magnesium for your specific needs.

Can magnesium help with sleep disorders?

Magnesium is believed to have a role in promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality. Some individuals report better sleep after taking magnesium supplements, but results may vary. If you’re experiencing sleep disturbances, consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized advice.

Are there dietary sources of magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride?

Dietary sources of magnesium primarily include magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Magnesium citrate and magnesium chloride are typically not found naturally in foods but are available in supplement form.

What’s the difference between magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide?

Magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide are two common magnesium supplements, but they differ in terms of bioavailability. Magnesium citrate is better absorbed by the body, while magnesium oxide has a lower absorption rate. Individuals seeking quick relief or higher bioavailability often prefer magnesium citrate.

What’s Next

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of magnesium citrate vs. magnesium chloride, you can make an informed decision about which magnesium supplement aligns with your health goals. Whether you choose magnesium citrate for its rapid absorption or magnesium chloride for its versatile application, remember to consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

In our next blog, we’ll explore the benefits of magnesium glycinate, another popular form of magnesium supplementation. Discover how magnesium glycinate compares to other magnesium variants and find the best fit for your well-being journey.

Read more about magnesium here:

  1. “Magnesium Glycinate: What You Need to Know”
  2. “Learn about the differences between magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate.”
  3. “Find out how long it takes for magnesium to work for anxiety.”

In the meantime, continue to prioritize your health and well-being by making informed choices and staying up-to-date with the latest insights in the world of supplements and nutrition. Your journey to better health starts with knowledge and proactive decision-making.

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