Always read the label before buying your supplements


People who buy supplements do so because they want to boost and maintain their good health or search for safe alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. These are all good intentions and in my view should not be discouraged.

However the problem for many people is that certain supplements can be pricey and as a result they look for cheaper versions. And while many cost-effective supplements can still be of a good quality, some of them contain ingredients that you should not ingest.

Always read the label

Magnesium supplements are a perfect example of this. This essential mineral is something you never want to run short on. And as is the case with many nutrients, as time marches on, your body becomes less efficient in absorbing this important mineral.

And because of this, despite a healthy diet rich in fresh organic vegetables (particularly dark green varieties), you may still have inadequate magnesium levels. In fact, some experts believe that as much as 80 per cent of people over the age 55 are deficient in this mineral.

That’s a pretty staggering number. And even more reason why you need to supplement with magnesium because it plays an important role in many aspects of your health, including lowering blood pressure, bone health, protein synthesis, aiding energy metabolism, supporting brain health and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes

However, walk into any health food store or browse the internet and you’ll see many different magnesium supplements at prices varying from very low to quite high. This is where people make the mistake of buying the first and cheapest version they see… after all, if the label says ‘Magnesium’ then that’s what it must be.

Actually not.

When it comes to magnesium supplements, the cheapest version is also the most ineffective: magnesium oxide. It has a mere four per cent absorption rate. The remaining 96 per cent passes through your intestines, which is why magnesium oxide tends to cause digestive discomfort. Then there are magnesium chloride or lactate, carbonate, citrate, sulphate/hydroxide (milk of magnesia) and taurate.

None of the above are as effective as magnesium glycinate – a chelated form of the mineral that has the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability. It is typically recommended by alternative health practitioners for those suffering with magnesium deficiency.

However, before you buy magnesium supplements, there is one more thing you should know.

Check the ingredients list on the label.

If it contains magnesium stearate and/or magnesium silicate, put it back on the shelf and keep looking. These two forms are useless and also toxic. In fact, talc powder is made from magnesium silicate, which in recent years has come under the spotlight for its potential carcinogenic properties. And magnesium stearate is a synthetic additive created in a lab by adding magnesium ions to stearic acid – is not a source of magnesium and has no nutritional or therapeutic value.

Magnesium threonate is a new form of the mineral and it shows the most promise in delivering the nutrient exactly to where it is needed most, due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane.

However, it is a bit more expensive and for those whose pennies can’t stretch that far, fortunately there is a very simple and affordable way to improve your levels of this essential mineral: taking regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths.

Epsom salt is a magnesium sulphate that can absorb into your body through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.

Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


Magnesium – The Missing Link to Better Health, published online 08.12.13,

Death by Medicine, by Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD,

Just say no to magnesium stearate in supplements, published online

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