Research shows that nearly two-thirds of adults in the western world do not reach the recommended daily allowance for magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzyme systems in the human body. Magnesium allows for critical functions like healthy blood pressure control, insulin use, muscle contraction and more.
Because many people have trouble with the absorption of magnesium, it’s combined with malic acid and used as a dietary magnesium supplement — known as magnesium malate — for common health concerns like fatigue, weakness, muscle pain and low energy.
What Is Magnesium Malate?
Magnesium malate is a dietary supplement that combines the essential mineral magnesium and malic acid, an organic compound that’s found in apples and other food sources.
Magnesium plays a role in many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, heart rhythm, and blood sugar regulation. Studies suggest that the body doesn’t absorb magnesium well when it’s taken in supplement form alone, so binding it to a compound like malic acid is meant to boost absorption so your body can maintain healthy levels of the mineral.
Malic acid has health benefits of its own, too, and it’s sometimes added to supplements because of its ability to help increase energy levels, improve athletic performance and boost skin health.
When you put the mineral and compound together, you get magnesium malate, a supplement that’s thought to be well-tolerated and taken by people who have low magnesium levels and suffer from muscle pain or fatigue.
The potential health benefits of magnesium malate include the following:
1. Boosts Energy and Mood
Magnesium is essential for the production of energy in the body, and it helps enhance mood. Research shows that magnesium supplementation has been successfully used to reduce signs of depression and may be useful as adjuvant therapy.
Magnesium works to boost mood and improve depression symptoms because it’s required as a coenzyme to convert tryptophan to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s known as a major determinant of mental health.
Malic acid also helps increase energy levels by participating in the citric acid cycle (also known as the Krebs cycle), a process that generates energy in cells by metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fatty acids to create adenosine triphosphate.
2. Supports Muscle and Nerve Function
Magnesium is an important mineral for muscle and nerve function, helping the muscles relax. Using magnesium malate may help reduce muscle cramps and pain.
Additionally, studies suggest that magnesium is essential for nerve transmission, and low levels of the mineral may impact the risk of neurological disorders.
3. Helps Improve Athletic Performance
Magnesium is important for muscle function, and malic acid may help improve athletic performance. When magnesium was studied for its ability to enhance exercise performance, reports showed that the mineral enhanced glucose availability in the brain, muscles and blood and boosted muscle use, including grip strength, lower leg power and jumping performance.
4. May Relieve Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
Magnesium malate may be beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other pain disorders.
Studies show that magnesium deficiency is largely associated with muscle pain and fatigue, with evidence of a correlation between low magnesium levels and increased substance P, a neurotransmitter that’s known for its role in pain perception.
5. Supports Heart Health
Magnesium helps regulate heart rhythm and may lower the risk of heart disease, according to research published in Nutrients. High magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular risk factors, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and hypertension.
6. Helps with Blood Sugar Regulation
Studies indicate that magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, making it beneficial for people with diabetes. Higher magnesium intake is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, according to research published in Diabetes Care.
Risks and Side Effects
Magnesium malate is generally considered safe and well-tolerated when taken as directed. However, like any supplement, it can cause side effects or interact with certain medications, so it’s important to speak to your health care provider to rule out potential interactions and determine the best dosage for your needs.
High doses of magnesium may cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. It’s also possible to experience drowsiness, headache and confusion, especially if you take too much magnesium for your body and tolerance.
Although it’s rare, some people may experience allergic reactions to magnesium malate, with potential symptoms including hives, difficulty breathing and swelling. If this occurs, contact your doctor immediately.
Magnesium malate may interact with certain medications, such as antibiotics, blood pressure medications and diuretics. People with kidney problems should use magnesium supplements with caution, as high doses can cause kidney damage.
Dosage and Preparation (Plus Food Sources)
Magnesium malate is taken as a dietary supplement to prevent magnesium deficiency and alleviate issues such as muscle pain, weakness and fatigue.
The recommended dosage of magnesium malate can vary depending on the individual and health condition, but most studies include doses that range between 200–400 milligrams per day. It is best to take a magnesium malate supplement with food, and be sure to drink plenty of water to help with absorption.
If you’re using magnesium malate or any other magnesium supplement, start with a low dose, and work your way up slowly.
Most people can maintain healthy magnesium levels by eating food sources regularly. The top magnesium foods include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Wheat bran
- Black beans
- Almonds/almond butter
- Cooked spinach
- Dark chocolate
Eating foods containing malic acid is also beneficial and can help relieve pain, boost exercise performance and promote better iron absorption. Some foods that provide malic acid include:
- Magnesium malate is a dietary supplement that combines the essential mineral magnesium and malic acid, an organic compound that’s found in fruits and vegetables.
- The combination is used to help relieve chronic pain, improve exercise performance, boost energy levels, fight diabetes and promote heart health.
- The recommended magnesium malate dose ranges from 200–400 milligrams per day, depending on your gender, age and health. Before using a magnesium supplement, try adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as wheat bran, avocados, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.