Magnesium Glycinate Benefits and Side Effects

Magnesium glycinate is a magnesium amino acid chelate, which means that it is bound to an amino acid. This Buzzle write-up provides information on the benefits and side effects associated with the use of this supplement.
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Magnesium glycinate benefits
Did You Know?
Though magnesium is needed for more than 300 essential biochemical reactions, the recommended dietary allowance criterion for magnesium is not met by more than 50% of the US population.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in various bodily processes that are integral to the healthy functioning of the human body. Besides acting as a catalyst for various biochemical reactions, it is required for regulating the acid-alkaline balance in the body. It is essential for keeping the bones, teeth, heart, and the nervous system in a good condition. It aids in energy production and activation of muscle tissue. It is also instrumental in improving bowel function and regulating the blood sugar levels.

In case of low blood magnesium levels or a magnesium deficiency, one can either increase one's dietary intake of this nutrient or take magnesium supplements. Magnesium supplements are available in several forms such as magnesium citrate, magnesium taurate, magnesium oxide, magnesium gluconate, magnesium lactate, magnesium sulfate, magnesium chloride, and chelated form of magnesium. Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that is ideal for individuals affected by a magnesium deficiency. It has a better bioavailability (the amount of drug that reaches the site of physiological activity after its administration).

What is Meant by Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate?

The term 'chelate' refers to a complex compound comprising a central metal atom, which is attached to a ligand (large molecule) in a ring structure. In case of magnesium amino acid chelate supplements, magnesium is bonded to an amino acid containing nitrogen. In magnesium glycinate supplements, magnesium is attached to an amino acid called glycine. This supplement is prescribed for people affected by a magnesium deficiency. It is believed that this true chelated form of magnesium has better absorption or bioavailability, as it is stable and doesn't break down in the stomach. The human body easily identifies the amino acid glycine. Magnesium is easily carried with glycine (its amino acid ligand) into the intestinal wall, without undergoing any change. It reaches the intestine in the form in which it was ingested. Moreover, magnesium glycinate molecule is small, as there is less magnesium by weight on account of glycine being a large molecule. Therefore, it can be easily transported into the cell itself.

What is Magnesium Glycinate Used for?

This supplement is prescribed for those who are either affected by a magnesium deficiency due to poor diet or affected by medical conditions that affect the absorption of this mineral. For instance, the use of diuretics or water pills can cause the body to lose essential nutrients. In such cases, one needs to compensate for the loss of the mineral. The absorption of this mineral can also be affected adversely due to alcohol abuse, severe vomiting/diarrhea, or medical conditions that affect the absorption of nutrients. If diabetes is not managed properly, it can also affect magnesium levels.

Magnesium is often referred to as a relaxation mineral due to its ability to provide relaxation. It counteracts calcium at N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. As the NDMA receptors get activated, an ion channel opens. This ion channel is blocked by magnesium ions. This facilitates the passage of sodium ions and a small amount of calcium ions into the cell, as well as the passage of potassium out of the cell. While calcium causes contractions, magnesium causes relaxation. If there's too much calcium without the required levels of magnesium, the nerve cells of the brain can get irritated. Excess calcium can also cause skeletal muscles to contract. If calcium levels are high and magnesium levels are low, one can experience persistent muscle spasms or twitches.

Low magnesium levels can lead to hyper excitability of the nerves, which can adversely affect sleep. In a study conducted by USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota, majority of subjects affected by long-term insomnia or abnormal brain waves during sleep were found to be deficient in magnesium.

Glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which works as a co-agonist of glutamate for activating NMDA receptors. It is believed that it can enhance the activity of neurotransmitters that play a vital role in memory and cognition. There's some evidence that suggests that taking glycine before bedtime can promote good sleep and reduce anxiety and daytime sleepiness. It is believed that glycine promotes the calming effect of magnesium. It has been observed that glycine-bound magnesium is less likely to cause laxative effects than other magnesium supplements.

Contraindications and Side Effects

This supplement is categorized under FDA pregnancy category C, which means that animal studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus, but there's a lack of well-controlled studies in humans. In such cases, the drug or supplement might be prescribed, only if potential benefits outweigh the risks. Similarly, it is not known if the drug can pass into the breast milk. Thus, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid its use. This drug should also be avoided by people affected by kidney disease or those who are allergic to the ingredients of the supplement. Do inform your doctor if:

you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
you are taking any other drugs.
you are diabetic.
you have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
you are malnourished.
you drink large amounts of alcohol.

Though there's less likelihood of one developing a serious allergic reaction to this magnesium amino acid chelate, medical assistance must be immediately sought if one experiences the following symptoms:

Hives/Rash
Itching
Swelling of the face/tongue/throat
Lightheadedness
Trouble in breathing

Though magnesium glycinate is not very likely to cause diarrhea, inform your doctor if you experience an upset stomach and diarrhea.

Magnesium glycinate supplement is recommended for treating low levels of magnesium in the blood, indigestion, or constipation. It is extremely essential to follow the directions provided on the product package. It would be best to consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist, if you have any doubts about the dosage. Swallow the whole capsule. You can take the supplement with a meal or a glass of water, unless your healthcare provider has suggested otherwise. In case of extended-release capsules, one should never crush or chew the capsule, as the risk of adverse effects is higher, when the drug is released immediately instead of the intended gradual release. It must be noted that elevated magnesium levels can also cause health problems. So, do not increase the dosage on your own, and take it as per the dosage for a duration recommended by your doctor. Inform your doctor if you experience side effects.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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Published: July 29, 2014
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