Magnesium Gluconate vs. Glycinate: Key Differences and Similarities
By OBGYN Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Magnesium is an important mineral that’s necessary for a healthy, functioning body. Magnesium deficiency is thought to impact up to 78% of people during pregnancy and is more likely to occur in people with alcohol dependence, type 2 diabetes, and gastrointestinal diseases. [1-2] Extremely low magnesium levels may lead to a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, and may even increase the risk of some pregnancy complications such as hypertension, preeclampsia, and preterm labor. [2-3] Learn more about the benefits of magnesium during pregnancy.
Promoting healthy levels of magnesium can decrease the risk of these complications and symptoms and support healthy functioning. While some magnesium can be obtained through the diet, nutritional supplements can also be useful. Let’s take a closer look at magnesium supplements and some of the key differences between magnesium gluconate vs. glycinate.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is one of the most common minerals found in the body and is necessary for hundreds of metabolic reactions. We use magnesium to produce energy, regulate blood pressure, synthesize protein, and much more.  Most of the magnesium in our bodies is found in our bones and soft tissues, which can make it difficult to assess magnesium status. To meet sufficient nutrient requirements, it’s recommended that most people over the age of 18 consume about 310-420 mg of magnesium every day.  Magnesium can be found in the diet through green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and can also be consumed through dietary supplements.
Types of Magnesium
There are many different options when searching for the right type of magnesium supplement. Some types of magnesium include :
- Magnesium oxide
- Magnesium sulfate
- Magnesium citrate
- Magnesium glycinate
- Magnesium chloride
- Magnesium lactate
- Magnesium taurate
These forms of magnesium can vary in terms of their medical uses, side effects, and bioavailability (how well the body is able to absorb it). Many of these forms of magnesium are compounds that include other nutrients such as taurine, malic acid, chlorine, and others. 
Magnesium gluconate is a form of magnesium often used to treat low blood magnesium caused by prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems, or other conditions.  Gluconate is one of the best-absorbed types of magnesium, useful for supplementing a magnesium-deficient diet, and the only form of magnesium recommended for supplementation according to the National Library of Medicine.  Magnesium gluconate is less likely to cause negative side effects than other forms of gluconate and has shown promising results for preventing pregnancy-induced hypertension and premature contractions as well as supporting relaxation.  Read up on magnesium vs melatonin.
Magnesium glycinate is a compound of an amino acid called glycine and magnesium.  Amino acids are molecules that form proteins. There are thousands of different proteins in the body that each have important jobs, from healing wounds to contributing to sexual function. Glycine is one of the nonessential amino acids, meaning that the body produces it on its own.
Generally, magnesium glycinate is well tolerated and has minimal side effects.  This form of magnesium has been shown to benefit mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and stress. [8-9] Because of the presence of glycine, it may also be helpful for sleep, heart disease, and diabetes. [10-11]
Benefits of Magnesium Gluconate vs. Glycinate
More research is needed to fully compare and contrast the benefits of magnesium glycinate and gluconate. We know that both forms of magnesium are thought to be well tolerated and are beneficial for supplementing a magnesium-deficient diet, which is especially common during pregnancy. The key differences between the two forms of magnesium are their compounds. Magnesium glycinate includes an amino acid known as glycine, while magnesium gluconate contains gluconic acid, a natural compound that is noncorrosive, nontoxic, and less irritating than other acids. Research suggests that magnesium gluconate is the most bioavailable and well-tolerated form of magnesium, making it a good choice when shopping for magnesium supplements. If you are considering taking a magnesium supplement, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider about your options. Learn about magnesium for PCOS.
Natalist Magnesium Plus
Magnesium Plus is a pregnancy-safe drink mix that supports relaxation, calcium absorption, and bone health. Magnesium Plus contains magnesium gluconate, calcium gluconate, and vitamin D3. This drink mix was formulated with pregnant people in mind and works to restore magnesium levels while relieving muscle cramps and boosting the absorption of all three ingredients. Whether you’re looking for relief from tired muscles, need a pregnancy-safe nightcap, or are just hoping to support healthy magnesium levels, we’ve got you covered. Bundle and save on pregnancy-safe drink mixes when you get the Drink Mix Duo!
- Orlova, S., Dikke, G., Pickering, G. et al. Risk factors and comorbidities associated with magnesium deficiency in pregnant women and women with hormone-related conditions: analysis of a large real-world dataset. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 21, 76 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-021-03558-2
- National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesium. Published 2016. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- Zarean E, Tarjan A. Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Randomized Control Trial. Adv Biomed Res. 2017;6:109. Published 2017 Aug 31. doi:10.4103/2277-9175.213879
- Sherrell, Z. Marengo, K. Types of magnesium supplements and their benefits. Medical News Today. June 2023. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/types-of-magnesium#types-of-magnesium
- Magnesium Gluconate. Medline Plus. October 2016. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601072.html
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (2023). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 71587201, Magnesium gluconate. Retrieved October 9, 2023 from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Magnesium-gluconate.
- DiSilvestro, R. Joseph, E. Starkoff, B. Devor, S. Magnesium Glycinate Supplementation in Bariatric Surgery Patients and Physically Fit Young Adults. The FASEB JournalVolume 27, Issue S1 p. Lb291-lb291. April 2013.
- Yablon LA, Mauskop A. Magnesium in headache. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507271/
- Eby GA, Eby KL. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-370. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2006.01.047
- Razak MA, Begum PS, Viswanath B, Rajagopal S. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review [published correction appears in Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2022 Feb 23;2022:9857645]. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1716701. doi:10.1155/2017/1716701
- Kawai N, Sakai N, Okuro M, et al. The sleep-promoting and hypothermic effects of glycine are mediated by NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015;40(6):1405-1416. doi:10.1038/npp.2014.326