In one of my previous articles on how to find supplements that work, I discussed the topic of avoiding supplements that use cheap or filler ingredients.
Supplements and companies not worth your money will often use cheaper versions or chemical compounds of a supplement to lower their production cost. They may also add-in cheap vitamins and minerals to make the nutritional label seem more impressive.
This helps them either lower the cost of their product to increase sales or improve their profit margin, all while helping you less.
In this article, I wanted to expound on that topic a bit more by focusing on one specific supplement to demonstrate how this works within the industry.
So, we’re going to conduct an in-depth look at magnesium supplements and how quality ingredients can have a major impact on your supplements effectiveness.
What are the Benefits of Magnesium Supplementation?
I wrote an in-depth article on the benefits of magnesium for runners here, which detailed a lot of the scientific literature to date.
To sum up for the purposes of this article, magnesium supplementation has been shown to…
- Improve exercise capacity
- Lower stress levels
- Strengthen bones
- Improve sleep
- Reduce muscle cramps
Now, it’s important to note two things from this research.
1. First, effective dosage appears to be in the 400-500mg range across almost all studies.
2. Second, magnesium comes in 7 different forms and each form “specializes” in improving a specific area. So, if you don’t have all seven forms, you won’t get all the benefits.
The 7 different types of Magnesium
Before we compare specific supplements, let’s expand quickly on the 7 different types of magnesium.
This way, when we compare the difference between a supplement with quality ingredients vs. one with cheaper or filler ingredients, we can fully appreciate how big a difference it can make in terms of impact.
This form of magnesium is especially important for muscle building, recovery, and health.
Chelating magnesium also helps absorption by passing from the stomach to the small intestine. In this way, our body can absorb more magnesium in the intestinal tract than non-chelated magnesium.
Helps with the effects of obesity. In fact, one study found that this form helped arterial stiffness in healthy overweight individuals.
In addition, research has shown it’s also one of the most bioavailable versions of magnesium, meaning it’s the most easily absorbed by the body.
Often used to treat symptoms of excess stomach acid, such as stomach upset, heartburn, and acid indigestion.
Magnesium Malate can help with migraines, chronic pain, and depression.It’s found naturally in fruits, giving them a “tart taste.”
This form of magnesium helps you to effectively produce energy. It also supports the immune system and is critical for bone health and skeletal development.
This is the form of magnesium best for your heart. One study noted: “The complex magnesium taurate may thus have considerable potential as a vascular-protective nutritional supplement.”
While also helpful for the heart, magnesium orotate is believed to be the best form for metabolic improvements.
This makes it a favorite for athletes seeking enhanced recovery, energy and performance.
Let’s Compare Quality vs. Low Cost
Now that we fully understand the importance of having a magnesium supplement with all 7 forms, we can appreciate the differences between quality and cheaper supplements when we examine the labels.
For comparison, let’s use the highly rated Magnesium Breakthrough from BiOptimizers and one of the most advertised brands on Amazon, Magwell from Livewell.
Here’s the nutrition labels for both…
What’s the Difference?
Missing Important Forms for Athletes
The first thing you’ll notice, obviously, is that the Magwell only contains 3 of the 7 forms of magnesium we discussed.
As a runner, this is really important since you’d be missing out on two of the forms specifically designed to help with athletic performance and recovery – orotate and chelate.
I’ll admit, I am not a supplement manufacturer, but I’d bet these other forms were omitted because they are more expensive to add. So, to keep cost down, it makes sense to load up on the cheaper ingredients.
Not an Effective Dosage
The second item you might notice is that the Magwell only provides 225mg of total magnesium per serving.
As mentioned previously, almost all of the literature suggests optimal efficacy occurs with supplementation in the 400-500mg range.
This means you might not be getting any benefits from taking this version of Magnesium, or at the least 50% of the benefits.
However, since most people don’t know that the efficacious dose is 500mg, the supplement company is able to increase their profit margin so they can spend more on advertising or lower their price to make it appear to be a better value.
What It Means For You
Now we get into the heart of why I encourage athletes to research the supplements they take and focus on those that adhere to efficacious dosages and ingredients.
Livewell Magwell costs $19.99 on Amazon. Magnesium Breakthrough from BiOptimizers cost $33 (and you can save 10% with this link if you want to try it out).
At first glance, most athletes would choose the cheaper version. I mean, why pay more for the same supplement?
But, as we noted, the dosage is 50% less and it doesn’t contain all the critical forms, specifically the ones important for athletic performance.
So, if you’re going to use a magnesium supplement, then you want to go with the only one on the market that includes all 7 unique forms of magnesium, like Mag Breakthrough.
By choosing the cheaper version, you’re barely getting any benefit from the supplement. You’re wasting your money.
With supplements, you almost always get what you pay for.
I hope this deep-dive into how to examine the quality of the ingredients in your supplements helps you understand how to find effective supplements for your running and how to avoid the marketing hype.