Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a key role in nearly every aspect of your health.
While it’s found naturally in a variety of foods, many people take supplements to help increase their intake.
However, determining which kind of magnesium supplement to take can be difficult, as many different types are available.
This article focuses on a supplement called magnesium malate, including its potential benefits, side effects, and dosage recommendations.
Magnesium malate is a compound made by combining magnesium with malic acid.
Malic acid is found in many fruits and responsible for their tart taste (1).
Magnesium malate is believed to be better absorbed than other forms of magnesium supplements.
One study in rats compared several magnesium supplements and found that magnesium malate provided the most bioavailable magnesium (
That means more magnesium was absorbed and available for use when the rats were given magnesium malate, compared with other types of supplements (
For this reason, magnesium malate is used to treat many different conditions that magnesium is thought to help, including migraines, chronic pain, and depression.
Research shows that the majority of adults in the United States consume less magnesium than is recommended (3).
You can take magnesium malate to help increase your intake of magnesium. This can help prevent magnesium deficiency if you’re not getting enough in your diet.
Many people also use magnesium supplements to help prevent or treat headaches and migraines, a type of recurring headache that varies in severity and can cause side effects like nausea and sensitivity to light (
Magnesium malate can also be used to help promote regular bowel movements. It can act as a laxative, drawing water into your intestines and stimulating the movement of food through your digestive tract (5).
It even acts as a natural antacid, a type of medication used to treat heartburn and relieve stomach upset (5).
Summary Magnesium malate can help increase your intake of magnesium and prevent deficiency. It may also help prevent headaches and act as a natural laxative and antacid.
Many studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of magnesium.
While not all are focused on magnesium malate, the same benefits likely apply. Yet, more research on magnesium malate specifically is needed.
Here are some of the benefits that may be associated with magnesium malate.
May boost mood
Magnesium has been used to treat depression since the 1920s (
Interestingly, one study in 8,894 adults found that very low magnesium intake was associated with a higher risk of depression (
Some research has found that taking magnesium could help prevent depression and enhance mood.
For example, one study in 23 older adults with diabetes and low magnesium found that taking 450 mg of magnesium every day for 12 weeks improved symptoms of depression as effectively as an antidepressant (
Another review of 27 studies showed that a higher intake of magnesium was linked to decreased symptoms of depression, suggesting that taking oral supplements could help improve mental health (
May improve blood sugar control
Studies show that a higher intake of magnesium may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (
Taking magnesium supplements may also help improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from your bloodstream into your tissues. Increasing insulin sensitivity can help your body use this important hormone more efficiently to keep your blood sugar levels in check (
One large review of 18 studies showed that taking magnesium supplements reduced blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It also increased insulin sensitivity in people at risk of developing diabetes (
Another 3-month study found that when 71 children with type 1 diabetes took 300 mg of magnesium oxide daily, their levels of hemoglobin A1c decreased by 22%. Hemoglobin A1c is a marker of long-term blood sugar control (
May enhance exercise performance
Magnesium plays a central role in muscle function, energy production, oxygen absorption, and electrolyte balance, all of which are important factors when it comes to exercise (
Several studies show that taking magnesium supplements could boost physical performance.
One animal study found that magnesium improved exercise performance.
It enhanced the availability of energy for cells and helped clear out lactate from the muscles. Lactate can build up with exercise and contribute to muscle soreness (
A 4-week study in 25 volleyball players showed that taking 350 mg of magnesium daily reduced lactate production and improved the performance of jumps and arm swings (
What’s more, malic acid has also been studied for its ability to promote muscle recovery and reduce fatigue in endurance athletes (
May help reduce chronic pain
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes muscle pain and tenderness throughout the body (18).
Some research suggests magnesium malate could help reduce its symptoms.
One study in 80 women found that blood levels of magnesium tended to be lower in those with fibromyalgia.
When the women took 300 mg of magnesium citrate per day for 8 weeks, their symptoms and the number of tender points they experienced decreased significantly, compared with a control group (
Also, a 2-month study in 24 people with fibromyalgia found that taking 3–6 tablets, each containing 50 mg of magnesium and 200 mg of malic acid, twice daily reduced pain and tenderness (
However, other research has produced conflicting results. In fact, one recent review of 11 studies concluded that the use of magnesium and malic acid had little to no effect on symptoms of fibromyalgia (
Summary Studies show that magnesium may help improve your mood, blood sugar control, and exercise performance. It may also reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, though research results on this are mixed.
Some of the most common side effects of taking magnesium malate include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, especially when it’s taken in high amounts (
Doses over 5,000 mg per day have also been shown to cause toxicity, which can cause serious symptoms, including low blood pressure, facial flushing, muscle weakness, and heart problems (23).
Magnesium malate may also interfere with certain medications, including diuretics, antibiotics, and bisphosphonates, a type of medication used to prevent bone loss (5).
Therefore, if you’re taking any of these medications or have any other underlying health conditions, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before you start taking supplements.
Summary Magnesium malate may cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. It can also be toxic in very high doses and may interfere with certain types of medications.
The amount of magnesium you need each day varies by your age and gender.
The following table shows the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for infants, children, and adults (5):
Most people can meet their needs for magnesium by eating magnesium-rich foods, such as avocados, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
However, if you are unable to meet your needs due to dietary restrictions or certain health problems, taking magnesium malate may be beneficial.
Most studies have found that doses of 300–450 mg of magnesium per day could be beneficial for health (
Generally, most supplements contain 100–500 mg of magnesium.
Ideally, start with a low dose and work your way up to assess your tolerance.
It’s also best to take magnesium malate with meals to help reduce the risk of negative side effects, such as diarrhea and digestive issues.
Summary Most healthy adults need 310–420 mg of magnesium daily. This can come from a combination of food and supplement sources. Studies show that magnesium in doses of 300–450 mg per day could benefit your health.
Magnesium malate is a common dietary supplement that combines magnesium and malic acid.
It may be linked to several health benefits, including improvements in mood, blood sugar control, exercise performance, and chronic pain.
When used in combination with a healthy diet high in magnesium-rich foods, magnesium malate can help increase your intake of this important mineral and deliver several health benefits.