Magnesium glycinate is a supplement made up of magnesium (a mineral) and glycine (an amino acid), two substances that are vital for good health.
Magnesium is one of 21 essential minerals your body needs to function. It’s critical for bone health, energy production, DNA synthesis, and protein creation, to name just a few of its jobs.
It’s also known as an electrolyte because of its important role in your body’s “electrical circuit”. This controls everything from your heartbeat to your muscle movements to your sense of touch.
Glycine is an amino acid that your body uses to make proteins. These are used for building and repairing tissues, and for creating substances like hormones and enzymes. Glycine in particular plays a role in healthy joint function and digestion and acts as an important neurotransmitter in your central nervous system.
What are the benefits of magnesium glycinate?
Taken alone or together in a supplement, magnesium, and glycine may offer some impressive, evidence-based benefits.
Magnesium and glycine both support heart health
Because it’s an electrolyte, magnesium is required for healthy heart function. Increasing magnesium levels with a supplement have been shown to lower heart disease and stroke risk, “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure.
Glycine is also important to heart health. Various studies (examples here, here and here) have found that glycine regulates cholesterol and inflammation — two factors associated with hardened arteries (atherosclerosis) and cardiovascular disease risk. It also helps your body to use nitric oxide, a chemical that’s essential for healthy heart and blood vessel function. This could explain why one study found that higher glycine levels were associated with a lower long-term risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Magnesium and glycine both support healthy blood sugar
Another shared benefit of magnesium and glycine is their effect on blood sugar. Persistently high blood sugar levels can cause your cells to become resistant to insulin, which means they can’t take in glucose from the blood to create energy.
Left unchecked, poor blood sugar control can lead to type 2 diabetes. In people who already have type 2 diabetes, it can increase the risk of diabetic complications like heart disease, kidney disease, amputation, and blindness.
Magnesium has been shown to help lower blood sugar and restore insulin sensitivity. Meanwhile, higher glycine levels are associated with lower type 2 diabetes risk, and glycine improves cellular insulin response in diabetic and non-diabetic people. This potentially means that magnesium and glycine (or magnesium glycinate) could play a role in keeping your blood sugar healthy and preventing diabetes or diabetic complications.
Magnesium glycinate may support mental health
Magnesium is involved in various biochemical reactions relating to mood and emotional regulation, like production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It’s even been found to improve the effectiveness of certain antidepressants.
Magnesium glycinate, specifically, has been well-studied when it comes to mental health. In one review of patient case histories, magnesium glycinate was found to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental illnesses. In one of the case studies, a patient famously recovered from major depression in just seven days after taking magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate.
Of course, these results are on the extreme end of the spectrum, and no supplement is a substitute for professional mental health support. However, the research does illustrate how important magnesium and glycine are for mental and emotional well-being, suggesting that magnesium glycinate could play an important role in a wider treatment approach.
Magnesium and glycine both support sleep
Sleep, mood, and mental wellness are all very closely linked, as you’ll know if you’ve ever suffered from insomnia. Luckily, there’s evidence to suggest that magnesium and glycine can help, both alone or as a magnesium glycinate supplement.
Magnesium may help you to get a better night’s sleep by relaxing the muscles and regulating your natural sleep-wake cycle. Glycine is also known to improve sleep, partly because it prepares your body for sleep and has a calming effect on the brain. People who have taken glycine as part of sleep studies say that it improves their sleep quality, reduces mental fatigue and sluggishness the next day, and helps them to feel more lively and clear-headed.
Glycine supports healthy joints, bones and skin
The most abundant protein in the body, collagen provides structure and strength to your joints, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and skin. In fact, collagen loss is a key reason why your skin sags, your bones weaken, and your joints ache as you get older.
Collagen is extremely high in glycine, so your body needs plenty of this amino acid to maintain healthy bones, joints, and skin. A supplement like magnesium glycinate can support collagen production, helping you to look and feel good for years to come.
Magnesium glycinate may support muscle health
Magnesium and glycine (and magnesium glycinate) can support muscle health and function in a number of ways.
Magnesium and glycine are both known to have a calming effect on the muscles. That’s why magnesium glycinate is often used to treat muscle cramps. In this study and this one, pregnant women found that magnesium glycinate significantly reduced their painful leg cramps. And in another case study, a young boy experienced complete relief from his lifelong chronic muscle pain.
Glycine is used to make creatine, a natural compound that gives your muscles fast, easy energy to fuel short bursts of activity. More glycine equals more creatine, which translates to increased muscle size, strength, and power from resistance exercises.
If your body is under severe stress, e.g. recovering from a major illness, injury, or surgery, your muscles can lose their mass and strength. When this happens, your body goes through various changes that make it harder for you to recover this muscle function. Glycine is showing promise as a potential treatment, both protecting the muscles from wasting and stimulating muscle growth.
Magnesium glycinate may support female reproductive health
Magnesium supplements have a wide range of reported health benefits for women at every reproductive stage. They can help to offset magnesium deficiency caused by some oral contraceptive pills and may reduce the inflammation associated with diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Magnesium glycinate specifically is believed to reduce the severity of pre-menstrual syndrome, ease menstrual cramps, and improve menopause symptoms.
Glycine supports antioxidant production
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to premature aging, inflammation, and a number of chronic diseases. Antioxidants, on the other hand, are the superhero molecules that fight these invaders and keep your cells healthy.
Glycine is an important building block for a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. By taking a supplement containing glycine, like magnesium glycinate, you can provide your body with all the glutathione it needs to keep free radical damage at bay.
Magnesium glycinate is better tolerated
Certain forms of magnesium, like citrate or oxide, can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects for some people. Magnesium glycinate is much easier on the digestive system, though, so side effects like these are much less common. For that reason, magnesium glycinate is especially good for people with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues.
Magnesium glycinate offers higher absorption
Magnesium glycinate is better absorbed in the gut than most other forms of magnesium, so it has much higher bioavailability. That means it’s one of the more effective types for boosting magnesium levels and treating deficiency.
Does magnesium glycinate have side effects?
We know that magnesium glycinate doesn’t cause the same gastrointestinal side effects as some other types of magnesium supplements, but are there any other side effects you should be aware of?
Magnesium glycinate is generally safe, but it may not be suitable for people with kidney disease or other renal problems. That’s because your kidneys may not be able to get rid of excess magnesium through your urine, so you may end up with hypermagnesemia (too much magnesium) if you take magnesium supplements.
Magnesium glycinate may also react with certain medications and change how they work in the body. The medications most commonly affected are antibiotics, heart medications, acid reflux medications, and bisphosphonates (for osteoporosis).
If you have a health condition or you’re taking medications, it’s best to check with your doctor first to make sure magnesium glycinate supplements are safe for you.