Magnesium helps you sleep, soothes aching muscles and even reduces anxiety. We reveal the best supplements to boost this wonder mineral
The best magnesium supplements are natural painkillers, sleep aids and muscle relaxants all in one. You don’t even have to swallow them to get the benefit. Magnesium is absorbed really easily through your skin, so some of the most powerful magnesium supplements are oils and body lotions that you can massage into cramping muscles and restless legs for immediate relief.
Magnesium is a metal, of course – it’s the stuff you set fire to in chemistry classes. But it’s also one of the most abundant minerals in your body. You get it naturally from all sorts of foods, from dark chocolate to Marmite (yep, the best foods!), but it can be hard to get all the magnesium you need that way. Magnesium is found in high concentrations in sea water, so that’s how most magnesium supplements are made. Their concentrated magnesium content is designed to boost your levels quickly and conveniently.
Skip down the page to discover the magnesium creams, salts and capsules we rate most highly, or keep reading for advice on choosing the best magnesium supplement for you.
Best magnesium supplement: At a glance
- Best magnesium supplement: BetterYou Body Lotion | Buy now
- Best magnesium capsules: Together Magnesium | Buy now
- Best magnesium bath salts: Westlab Magnesium Flakes | Buy now
- Best magnesium oil: Kiki Health Magnesium Oil Spray | Buy now
- Best value magnesium supplement: Swiss BioEnergetics Capsules | Buy now
- Best magnesium skin cream: BetterYou Body Butter | Buy now
How to choose the best magnesium supplement for you
Why do I need a magnesium supplement?
Magnesium is vital to hundreds of your body’s processes. A decent night’s sleep is the best-known beneficiary of daily magnesium supplements, but it also soothes muscle cramps, period pains and PMS; supports healthy immune and cardiovascular systems; keeps your bones and teeth healthy; and converts your food into energy (read more via the NHS). A recent study has even shown that magnesium supplements “significantly” reduce blood pressure and boost circulation.
And there’s more. “Magnesium supplements can also improve your body’s blood sugar control,” Dr Giuseppe Aragona, GP and Online Doctor for Prescription Doctor, told Expert Reviews. “So it can be very helpful for people with Type 2 diabetes. It can also reduce your risk of migraines, heart disease and depression.”
Magnesium supplements are an important part of any fitness programme, says Dr Aragona. “Magnesium has anti-inflammatory benefits, so it can help your recovery after exercise. This can also help if you suffer conditions such as arthritis.”
How much money do I need to spend on magnesium supplements?
Not much at all. The NHS recommends supplementing with 270mg of magnesium per day for women and 300mg for men (too much could cause diarrhoea). That means about two standard capsules, costing less than 14p per day if you go with our best-value recommended magnesium supplement, Swiss BioEnergetics Magnesium Citrate Capsules.
What type of magnesium supplement is best for me?
Magnesium supplements come in many formats and formulations. It’s absorbed easily by the body via the skin, so as well as tablets and capsules you can buy numerous transdermal formats that you rub or spray onto your skin.
You’ll also notice different types of magnesium on lists of ingredients:
Magnesium chloride is the most powerful type, mined from below ground or derived from sea water. “Magnesium chloride is the one I recommend, as it’s one of the best and most beneficial magnesium formulations,” says Dr Aragona. “It has a high absorption rate, and it’s the best one for detoxing the cells and tissues.”
Magnesium citrate appears in many capsules and tablets. “Magnesium citrate is the most common type of magnesium supplement,” says Dr Aragona. “It’s more easily absorbed in your digestive tract than other forms, so it’s more gentle on your digestive system.”
Chelated magnesium has been treated to make it easier for your body to absorb. “Chelated magnesium can be found in many health stores,” says Dr Aragona. “It’s good for supporting normal nerve and muscle function. It could also help with fatigue, lethargy and tiredness.”
Whichever type you go for, magnesium supplements are usually vegan-friendly. And they all tend to work better once they’ve had a few days to build up levels in your body. So while magnesium will help to improve your sleep (it’s the original chill pill), it won’t knock you out quickly like a sleeping pill.
READ NEXT: The best sleep trackers to try
The best magnesium supplements you can buy in 2022
1. BetterYou Magnesium Sleep Body Lotion: Best magnesium supplement you can apply to your skin
Price: £7.77 | Buy now from Amazon
If you don’t fancy swallowing pills, no problem: slather on this body lotion, and all the magnesium you need will absorb directly through your skin. Made by magnesium supplement specialists BetterYou, this soft lotion contains 150mg of high-quality magnesium chloride per 5ml teaspoon, so all you need is a dollop per day. The lotion also contains lavender and chamomile essential oils for a lovely fragrance.
“I can’t live without this product in my life, and it smells great too,” says one Amazon buyer, who uses the lotion to soothe osteo-arthritis in her hips. Hundreds of others say it improves their sleep better than other attempted remedies; gets rid of restless leg syndrome; and soothes sore muscles. The only hitch is that you may want to add a sprinkling of talc if you’re heading straight for bed, because the cream can feel a bit tacky on your skin at first.
Key features – Size: 180ml (150mg magnesium per 5ml); Format: Body lotion; Magnesium type: Magnesium chloride
2. Together Magnesium: Best magnesium supplement capsules
Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Holland & Barrett
These capsules from top nutritional supplement brand Together contain a blend of all five types of seawater-sourced magnesium: chloride, oxide, hydroxide, sulphate and carbonate. They each have slightly different absorption rates and benefits, so the idea of blending them is to deliver maximum quality as well as quantity. Buyers rate them highly, praising them for their gentleness on the stomach, their natural marine origin (from the Dead Sea, no less), and their effectiveness in aiding sleep and combating the dreaded restless legs.
Key features – Size: 30 capsules (188mg magnesium each); Format: Capsule; Magnesium type: Magnesium oxide, hydroxide, sulphate, carbonate and chloride
3. Westlab Restoring Magnesium Flakes: Best magnesium bath salts for bedtime and after exercise
Price: £6.99 | Buy now from Amazon
These flakes are similar to Epsom Salts (which top brand Westlab also does a roaring trade in), but with a much higher proportion of magnesium. In fact, they’re 100% pure magnesium chloride, which absorbs fast through your skin to get working in your bloodstream and nervous system.
The flakes are dead easy to use: no massaging or swallowing needed, just sprinkle them in your bath and unwind. They dissolve well (not something you can say for all bath salts), don’t smell of anything, and don’t contain any additional ingredients, so you may want to add a dash of bath oil for fragrance. Users find them ideal for soothing muscles after long-distance running and other muscle-draining exercise.
Key features – Size: 1kg; Format: Bath flakes; Magnesium type: Magnesium chloride
4. Kiki Health Magnesium Oil Spray: Best magnesium oil to target muscle cramps
Price: £12 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Kiki’s oil spray delivers a focused hit of magnesium that’s powerful enough to soothe cramping and painful muscles, especially when accompanied by a light massage. A quick squirt (or several) can work wonders for stiff necks, sore legs, abdominal cramps and aching limbs after workouts.
The fragrance-free oil is just slick enough to provide a decent massage base, but it does absorb very fast, with no sticky residue left over. User feedback is excellent, although some report that it can sting a bit at first (“it did feel quite unusual,” says one buyer), especially on sensitive fleshy spots.
Key features – Size: 125ml (31% magnesium); Format: Body oil spray; Magnesium type: Magnesium chloride
5. Swiss BioEnergetics Magnesium Citrate Capsules: Best value magnesium supplement
Price: £7.97 | Buy now from Amazon
Swiss BioEnergetics makes all manner of nutritional supplements, hailed for their efficiency by verified buyers on Amazon. I’ve used its magnesium citrate capsules, and found they improved my ability to get to sleep (and stay asleep) better than tablets. Other buyers report that these capsules have genuinely helped with migraines and stomach cramps.
On the downside, these capsules aren’t purely magnesium citrate (the active kind): they also contain additives including magnesium stearate (the non-active kind). Stearate turns up in everything from budget vitamin capsules to chewing gum. So if you’re looking for the purest quality of active magnesium, you may prefer Together Natural Marine Magnesium (see above). But these capsules are great value, and you only need two a day, max.
Key features – Size: 120 capsules (150mg active magnesium each); Format: Capsule; Magnesium type: Magnesium citrate
6. BetterYou Magnesium Skin Body Butter: Best magnesium cream for dry skin and aching muscles
Price: £8.03 | Buy now from Amazon
The latest addition to BetterYou’s magnesium supplement range is a gorgeously soft, light, non-sticky body butter. It’s not quite as high in active magnesium as other supplements, with each 5ml containing 75mg of magnesium chloride. But that’s a quarter of your recommended daily dose, so you don’t exactly have to go mad with this lovely stuff.
This deliciously nourishing cream also contains shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and vitamin E, so it’s a real treat for your skin. A great product for relaxing your muscles and relieving tension after a long day.
Key features – Size: 200ml (75mg magnesium per 5ml); Format: Body butter; Magnesium type: Magnesium chloride