On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Does the Type of Magnesium Matter?

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am concerned about my magnesium intake, and I have read that it’s a nutrient that many fail to get enough of in their diet. One site extols the virtues of taking 400 to 600 milligrams of magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate every day. I have seen magnesium supplements, but none that mention glycinate or citrate. Is there anything special about these forms? What is your opinion of such supplements? -- S.F., New York City

DEAR S.F.: Nothing special; assuming it gets dissolved, it’s the magnesium that is key. And the way magnesium gets compounded affects the ease with which it dissolves. “Glycinate” signifies that the mineral -- in this case, magnesium -- is combined with the nonessential amino acid glycine. “Citrate” indicates that magnesium is a salt made from citric acid (citrate).

Getting the mineral into solution is essential. After taking a supplement, the churning action of the digestive system helps the magnesium ions come into contact with the absorptive surfaces of the intestines, which, of course, is the goal. Taking a magnesium compound with a meal can provide liquid and an acid environment to help this happen.

Magnesium is an essential element needed for healthy bones -- in fact, half of the body’s magnesium is in our bones -- but also for nerve transmission, muscle relaxation and normal heart rhythm. The Daily Value for magnesium is 400 milligrams a day. Good dietary sources include avocado, nuts, bananas, legumes, whole grains, dark leafy greens, milk and oysters.

A plant-based, whole-foods diet is the priority. As a supplement, magnesium comes in a number of forms, including gluconate, aspartate, chloride, carbonate, hydroxide, lactate, orotate, sulfate and, as you report, glycinate and citrate. There are health conditions and medications that can affect the body’s ability to absorb magnesium, so check with your health professional or pharmacist to see if there might be an issue for you.

A couple of articles for follow-up: First, one from the National Institutes of Health that includes a discussion of groups at higher risk for magnesium deficiency: shorturl.at/mC358. Next, check out this ConsumerLab article about dietary supplement pills and how they dissolve: b.link/7bhpk.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I have read that drinking a combination of one teaspoon of vinegar and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of water helps promote fat-binding so that fat is passed out of the body as waste. Any truth to this? -- W.W., via email

DEAR W.W.: Nope. The “fat-binding” and “passing out of the body as waste” is unsupported nonsense. There is nothing dangerous or wrong with this regimen, but the only way that a mixture of vinegar and 20 calories’ worth of honey could promote weight loss would be if you had that in place of higher-calorie foods.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.