Magnesium has many health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, fights depression, and can increase your ability to exercise. However, elemental magnesium is not easily absorbed by the body and it is much easier to assimilate in the form of a salt associated with some other substance.
Magnesium malate, a combination of magnesium and malic acid (found in apples), is one of those salt formulas. This particular formulation of magnesium may be beneficial for conditions associated with over-excitement of the neuromuscular system, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. For these conditions, both magnesium and malic acid are often recommended, although early studies suggesting the benefits have not been replicated.
Magnesium is essential for the formation of cells and the maintenance of muscles, bones and nerves. Although many people get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium from their diet, a 2016 review found that many countries with industrialized agriculture have reduced magnesium in food. As such, people who are deficient may find it difficult to correct it through diet alone.
You may have heard that malic acid is used alone. It is often taken by people looking to improve muscle performance, reduce post-exercise fatigue, and improve mental focus.
Magnesium in various forms regulates many important functions and systems in your body, including:
- Nerves, including neuroexcitability
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
- Production of proteins, bones and DNA
Many of these factors are believed to be unregulated in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
While not many studies have been done with specific uses of the magnesium malate formulation, the data on various multi-use magnesium formulations is promising.
However, salt formulations made up of different combinations of magnesium with other chemicals differ in the rate of absorption from the intestine. Available formulations other than magnesium malate include:
- Magnesium sulphate
- Magnesium oxalate
- Magnesium citrate
Animal studies show that magnesium malate may have better bioavailability than other formations. If enough magnesium is present, the effects of one combination of salts can be applied to another. However, the lower threshold dose of one drug cannot be substituted for another. This is important to keep in mind when interpreting this study.
For some conditions associated with neuromuscular excitability, the effect of magnesium on hypertension and nervous arousal can help. This includes:
- Bruxism: Several case studies have been reviewed showing the promise of oral magnesium supplementation for alleviating bruxism (jaw clenching or teeth grinding), a common condition in people taking stimulant medications.
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS): Additionally, a study of 100 patients with type 2 diabetes found that oral magnesium supplementation improved the symptoms of RLS, a condition characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs.
- Postpartum seizures: Of 1,687 women who had seizures after pregnancy, according to a 2011 review , women who received magnesium salt intravenously had a 52% lower risk of subsequent seizures than women who received diazepam.
Magnesium deficiency during pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia and hinder the development of the fetus. The expectant mother's need for magnesium may increase to 400 milligrams (mg) in order to properly repair body tissues. Supplements are one way to meet this increased need and will not harm the fetus.
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
A 2010 review of therapies for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome found that magnesium malate is one of the supplements with the greatest potential for future research to treat the symptoms of these conditions, which, among other symptoms, are characterized by having low energy.
Both magnesium and malic acid help generate energy for your cells in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is deficient in numerous studies in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome .
A 2016 study published in the journal Pain Management suggests that low levels of magnesium and zinc in fibromyalgia patients can stimulate a process called excitotoxicity , in which the neurotransmitter glutamate is shed and overstimulates these cells to death.
A 2015 feasibility study suggests that magnesium malate supplementation could increase energy and relieve pain and pain in fibromyalgia patients.
However, a 2019 literature review found that the use of magnesium and malic acid had little to no effect on pain or depression in fibromyalgia.
Possible side effects.
Excess magnesium is excreted by the kidneys in the urine. However, people who take high doses of magnesium malate may experience intestinal problems such as persistent diarrhea, bloating, or cramps.
A 2011 review notes that the more magnesium you eat, the less of it is quickly absorbed by your body. This can lead to fluid retention in the colon, which can lead to these side effects.
A 2016 review of forty prospective cohort studies with more than 1 million participants found no significant association between an increase in dietary magnesium intake of 100 mg per day and the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, according to another review , magnesium is generally injected after heart surgery to prevent arrhythmias and can interact with other heart medications.
A 2018 Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease Review describes several clinical trials that have shown that magnesium lowers blood pressure. People at risk of hypotension should limit their magnesium intake, and those taking blood pressure medications should speak with their doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
Dosage and preparation
Magnesium malate supplements are most often taken by mouth with meals.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , the recommended daily intake (RDA) of magnesium for the general population varies by age and gender.
|RDA for magnesium|
|19 to 30 years||310 mg||400 mg|
|31 and over||320 mg||420 mg|
Daily doses of malic acid typically range from 1,200 mg to 2,800 mg.
People under stress, pregnant and lactating women, people with diabetes, athletes, and growing teens may have higher magnesium needs and should talk with their doctors to determine the optimal dose.
What to look for
Be sure to read the label when evaluating which brand of magnesium malate is right for you. The supplement label will list the active ingredients per serving, as well as any added ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavors.
There may also be a seal of approval from a third-party quality testing organization, such as ConsumerLab, US Pharmacopeia, and NSF International. These approvals do not guarantee safety, efficacy, or FDA classification, but they do confirm that the product contains the ingredients listed on the label, does not contain harmful amounts of contaminants, and is manufactured correctly.
Foods high in magnesium are typically dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Regardless of your magnesium needs, they are all essential ingredients for a healthy diet .