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What is elemental magnesium?

Magnesium Glycinate - the case of "less is more".

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of foods and dietary supplements within the context of a total diet. The DV for magnesium is 420 mg for adults and children aged 4 years and older.


Magnesium supplement exists in a variety of different magnesium salts (magnesium oxide, citrate, chloride, lactate, malate, glycinate, etc.) When taking a magnesium supplement, you are actually taking not only magnesium but also other elements that make up the chemical formula of the magnesium salt. Most supplement facts state the amount of magnesium salt per serving but leave out the amount of elemental magnesium, which is is the actual amount of magnesium contained in the serving. The recommended DV for magnesium refers to the elemental magnesium.

Magnesium glycinate is one of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms of magnesium, and also the least likely to induce diarrhea. It is the safest option for correcting a long-term deficiency. Magnesium Glycinate is the magnesium salt of glycine(a non-essential amino acid). Molecular compounds of Magnesium Glycinate is C4H8MgN2O4. That means one molecule of Magnesium Glycinate contains: four (4) carbons, eight (8) hydrogens, one (1) magnesium, two (2) nitrogen, and four (4) oxygen.
One serving of Folona Magnesium Glycinate provides 190 mg elemental magnesium from 1350mg of Magnesium Glycinate (C4H8MgN2O4), which includes all components (carbons, hydrogens, magnesium, nitrogen, and oxygen). The following makes up 1350 mg of Magnesium Glycinate:
377 mg carbon
63 mg hydrogen
190 mg magnesium
220 mg nitrogen
502 mg oxygen
The ratio of elemental magnesium in Magnesium glycinate is roughly 14% (190mg divided by1350mg)


Compared to other magnesium salts, magnesium glycinate might seem to be less efficient. Take magnesium oxide (MgO) for example. MgO  is made of up 1 magnesium and 1 oxygen. So 1350mg of magnesium oxide would contain 675 mg each of magnesium and oxygen. 
However, to assess the efficiency of a supplement, we need to pay attention to its absorbability by our body. Same serving size of Magnesium oxide contains more elemental magnesium but is poorly absorbed, at only 4% (i.e. if you ingest 1350mg of magnesium oxide, you are consuming 675 mg of elemental magnesium, of which only 27mg is absorbable by your body).
On the other hand, while Magnesium Glycinate contains lower ratio of elemental magnesium, it is readily absorbed by our body, at the rate of 80%, so although 1350mg of Magnesium Glycinate only contains 190mg elemental magnesium,  your body actually absorbs 152g of magnesium.

This is truly the case of “less is more”.

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