Magnesium malate is a supplement made up of magnesium and malic acid.
Magnesium is one of the 21 essential minerals your body needs for optimal health. Its many jobs include:
- Bone synthesis (creation)
- Blood sugar control
- Blood pressure regulation
- Immune regulation
- Energy production
- DNA and RNA synthesis
- Protein synthesis
Magnesium is also known as an electrolyte, which means that it helps to power your body’s “electrical circuit”. Your brain, heart, nerves, and muscles all depend on this electrical circuit (and magnesium) to function properly, making magnesium one of the most important minerals for survival.
Malic acid is an organic compound found in tart foods like apples. It’s often used as a natural additive to give foods a tangy flavor and as a skincare ingredient thanks to its gentle exfoliating properties. And because it’s a key part of the body’s energy production cycle, it’s increasingly used in supplements to help combat fatigue.
What are the benefits of magnesium malate?
Magnesium supplements of all kinds, including magnesium malate, are known for a variety of health benefits. These include heart health, blood pressure control, blood sugar regulation, anti-inflammation, cognitive support, brain health, and more, all of which you can read about in our in-depth article 12 Evidence-Based Benefits of Magnesium Supplements. For now, though, let’s talk specifically about the benefits of magnesium malate…
To understand why magnesium malate is such a great energy-boosting supplement, let’s first talk about ATP.
You’ve probably heard that glucose is your body’s main source of energy. That’s technically true, but your body doesn’t actually use the glucose as it is. Instead, glucose enters a complex cycle of chemical reactions that produce ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. This little molecule captures the energy created by these reactions and shuttles it all over the body to be used by the cells.
So what does that have to do with magnesium malate?
First, malic acid is an essential ingredient in that cycle of chemical reactions, specifically a part called the citric acid (or Krebs) cycle. It acts as a catalyst to increase the efficiency of energy production. Second, ATP can’t be used by the cells unless it’s bound to magnesium.
So having both magnesium and malic acid — not just one! — is critical for turning the energy from your food into energy your body can use. For that reason, magnesium malate is the best magnesium supplement for fighting tiredness, fatigue, and sluggishness. In fact, it’s often used by people suffering from debilitating chronic fatigue.
During exercise, your muscles burn through ATP at a much quicker rate. That means you need more glucose to meet the demand. Magnesium helps to make more glucose available in the blood, but that’s just the start.
Those energy cycles we talked about? They ramp up, faster and faster, which means they need more malic acid. And all that extra ATP they create? It needs more magnesium in order to be used by the muscle cells (up to 20% more depending on the exercise). Both magnesium and malic acid also help to remove lactic acid from the muscles, helping to fight off muscle fatigue and cramps during intense exercise.
That may explain why both magnesium and malic acid are such popular supplements in sports. For example, a group of volleyball players found that their anaerobic metabolism and key movements were better after taking daily magnesium. Another group of athletes, this time long-distance runners, and sprinters, took malic acid with creatine and had significant improvements in peak muscle power, muscle composition, endurance, and other physical performance markers after just six weeks.
Given how magnesium and malic acid both benefit the muscles, it’s not surprising that magnesium malate is a popular remedy for muscular pain. Fibromyalgia in particular is a debilitating chronic pain disorder with no cure and limited treatment options, but lots of sufferers claim that magnesium supplements help to ease their painful symptoms.
This seems to be backed up by research. One study gave magnesium malate to 15 fibromyalgia sufferers and reported that their pain symptoms improved significantly. In another study, patients reported that their muscle pain had eased and that they had fewer tender spots around the body.
Iron is vital for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. If you don’t get enough, it can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a condition that can leave you feeling tired, weak, and short of breath.
There are two types of iron found in food: haem iron, found in animal products, and non-haem iron, found in both animal and plant products. Haem iron is significantly easier for us to absorb than non-haem iron, which means those who eat little or no meat are at greater risk of anemia. Luckily, malic acid has been shown to be very effective at boosting the absorption of non-haem iron, making it an essential supplement for those following a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian diet.
General magnesium deficiency
Bioavailability refers to how much of the magnesium is absorbed and used by your body; the higher the bioavailability, the more magnesium you absorb, and the greater the benefits you get. Magnesium malate has the highest bioavailability of all magnesium supplements, making it hands-down the best type of magnesium supplement for treating a deficiency and boosting your magnesium levels.
Does magnesium malate have side effects?
Some types of magnesium supplements can cause side effects like nausea, cramps or diarrhea. Fortunately, magnesium malate isn’t one of them! It’s very well-tolerated, which means you’re unlikely to experience side effects.
Magnesium malate is generally safe for most people, but it might not be suitable for people with certain health conditions. Kidney disease, for example, can sometimes mean that your body can’t get rid of excess magnesium and could leave you with hypermagnesemia, or too much magnesium in the body. Magnesium can also react with certain medications and affect how well they work. If you have a health condition or you take medication, it’s best to check with your doctor first.