Are you concerned about your magnesium balance and interested in alternatives to the classic magnesium tablets? Then magnesium chloride could be a good choice. This magnesium compound is mainly available for external, so-called transdermal application. It is also the form of magnesium that your body can absorb without stomach acid.
In this magnesium chloride test 2021 you will learn what magnesium chloride actually is, how it is obtained and how it works. We provide you with helpful information on the different forms of magnesium chloride and show you the advantages and disadvantages of each. You will also find out what you should consider when buying magnesium chloride.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Magnesium Chloride: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying magnesium chloride
- 4.1 What is magnesium chloride?
- 4.2 How does magnesium chloride work and what is it used for?
- 4.3 Does magnesium chloride work transdermally?
- 4.4 How much magnesium chloride do I need daily?
- 4.5 Does my body need additional magnesium chloride?
- 4.6 Where can I buy magnesium chloride?
- 4.7 What side effects can magnesium chloride have?
- 4.8 What are the alternatives to magnesium chloride?
- 5 Decision: What types of magnesium chloride are there and which is right for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate magnesium chloride
- 7 Facts worth knowing about magnesium chloride
The most important facts
- Magnesium chloride is mainly available for external, i.e. "transdermal", application. Since some people get diarrhoea from magnesium preparations, they prefer this type of application without side effects.
- Externally, you use magnesium chloride for a foot or full bath or apply it directly to the skin.
- Pure magnesium chloride is available in the form of flakes, powder and magnesium oil. The latter is not actual oil, but has an oily consistency.
The Best Magnesium Chloride: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying magnesium chloride
What is magnesium chloride?
It is obtained, for example, by evaporating salty water. A natural source is seawater and salt lakes such as the Dead Sea.
Magnesium chloride is also found in the mineral bisch Bischofite. Thus, the mineral salt can also be extracted in a mine with primary salt deposits. Here, extraction from the original Zechstein Sea, which was once located in Central Europe and dried up about 250 million years ago, plays a role above all.
Since magnesium needs a bond so that the body can metabolise it, it is rarely available as a pure substance. For oral use, you usually get magnesium citrate or magnesium oxide. For external, "transdermal" use, on the other hand, you get magnesium chloride.
How does magnesium chloride work and what is it used for?
Magnesium (chloride) for the human body
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic processes in the body. The body needs magnesium for energy metabolism, nerve and muscle function, including heart function, and for building bones and teeth.(1)
The body absorbs organic magnesium compounds such as citrate or chloride better than inorganic compounds such as oxide or sulphate.(2)
Stomach acid converts magnesium compounds into magnesium chloride so that the magnesium can be absorbed through the small intestine. If you take magnesium chloride directly, your body does not need stomach acid for this conversion.
Older people with chronic diseases in particular may not produce enough stomach acid, which is why they can only absorb magnesium in the form of magnesium chloride.(3)
Magnesium is also said to contribute to better wound healing. (4) However, this has not been scientifically proven.
Most magnesium is stored in the bones and makes them hard. If the magnesium supply is inadequate, the body releases magnesium from the bones and cells. Thus, a permanent insufficient magnesium supply can damage bone health. (5, 6)
Magnesium chloride plays a big role in "transdermal" application as magnesium oil or magnesium spray. You can apply it directly to the skin or use it in the form of flakes or powder as a bath additive.
Other applications of magnesium chloride
In food production, magnesium chloride is used as a firming agent, acidity regulator, flavour enhancer, carrier substance or separating agent. Magnesium chloride is also approved for organic food in the EU as food additive E 511. It is the main component of the coagulant Nigari, which is used in the production of tofu.
It is also used as road salt, as it is more effective than other minerals at lower temperatures.
It is also used to increase the magnesium concentration in reef aquariums and to bind dust. In the form of magnesium chloride hexahydrate, it can store and release heat energy.
Does magnesium chloride work transdermally?
Magnesium chloride is applied externally: Either you add it to a foot or full bath or apply it directly to the skin as an oil or spray.
The main argument for external application is that magnesium can cause diarrhoea if ingested orally. External application bypasses the digestive system.
In addition, magnesium is better transported through the skin into the blood, cells, tissue and bones than magnesium taken orally. Since it reaches the bloodstream and the cells directly through the skin, interactions with other medicines or substances from other foods are avoided.(4)
However, the transdermal effect of magnesium chloride is controversial. Nutritionist Dr. Jürgen Vormann, for example, is critical of the transdermal effect. This is because the magnesium in magnesium oil, which is present in ionised form, cannot actually penetrate the skin. For this to happen, it would have to be a "lipophilic" substance. Magnesium ions, however, have a large hydrate shell, which hinders the penetration of cell membranes. Only the small surface of the sweat glands and hair follicles can absorb magnesium. However, this only makes up about 0.1 to 1 percent of the skin surface.(7, 8)
In a study by the naturopathic doctor Dr. Norman Shealy, who markets magnesium oil himself, 20 adults applied it to the skin daily. He found that a magnesium deficiency was corrected within 4-6 weeks. With oral magnesium therapy, this was only the case after at least four months. (9) However, only the abstract of the study has been published and not the complete version.
Another study on the transdermal effect of magnesium is by K. Watkins and P.D. Josling. In this study, nine adults sprayed themselves with magnesium oil daily for twelve weeks and also took a foot bath with 100 ml of magnesium oil twice a week. Magnesium levels were measured using a hair sample, which showed a significant increase in magnesium levels in seven out of eight people after the twelve weeks. (10) However, the hair cells do not reliably reflect the magnesium level in the body. Moreover, the small group of people is not representative.(11)
In a study by Dr Rosemary Waring of the University of Birmingham, the 19 participants took a whole-body bath at 50-55 °C in a magnesium sulphate solution (Epsom salt) for twelve minutes a day for seven days. The magnesium level was measured by blood and urine samples. A (partly small) increase could be detected in all but three test persons. So far, the study has not been published in any scientific journal, but only on the commercial website of the Epsom Salt Council.(12)
In a study from 2017, most of the 11 test subjects also showed higher magnesium levels after 14 days of applying a magnesium cream. However, the small group of people is not representative here either.(13)
Truly conclusive studies on the transdermal effect of magnesium chloride are therefore not yet available. Nevertheless, many are convinced of its effect and it cannot be definitively ruled out.
How much magnesium chloride do I need daily?
The German Nutrition Society gives the following reference values for magnesium intake(14):
|0-3 months||24 mg (estimated)||24 mg (estimated)|
|4-12 months||60 mg||60 mg|
|1-3 years||65-80 mg||65-80 mg|
|4-7||110-120 mg||110-120 mg|
|8-10 years||170 mg||170 mg|
|11-13 years||230 mg||250 mg|
|14-15||310 mg||310 mg|
|19-24 years||400 mg||310 mg|
|25+||350 mg||300 mg|
|Pregnant women||-||310 mg|
|Lactating women||-||390 mg|
The reference values do not correspond to a person's individual needs and are for guidance only.
This is because nutrient requirements vary from person to person and from day to day. Besides age and gender, it depends on many other internal (e.g. state of health) and external influences (e.g. physical activity).
Since the body stores most of its magnesium in the bones and muscles and only about 1% in the blood, the blood values are hardly meaningful for determining a deficiency.(15)
However, there is a method that can be used to determine the magnesium load in the body: The person is given a magnesium infusion. Since the body excretes excess magnesium, you now measure in the urine how much of the magnesium is excreted over the next 1-2 days. If hardly any is excreted again, a deficiency is likely.(16)
Does my body need additional magnesium chloride?
However, in the case of physical stress, pregnancy and breastfeeding, as well as for competitive athletes, additional magnesium could be useful.(15, 17)
Magnesium is also particularly important in cases of high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia and asthma. In addition, diabetics have an increased magnesium requirement.(17, 18, 19)
If you notice that your bones break quickly, a magnesium deficiency could be the cause.(5)
The body's magnesium intake or loss can be reduced by chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, heavy alcohol consumption, certain medications (e.g. diuretics for high blood pressure) and laxatives.(15)
Incidentally, the effect of magnesium on muscle cramps has not been scientifically proven. Muscle cramps can have various causes. Apart from overstraining the muscle or an imbalanced electrolyte balance, faulty spinal cord reflexes are suspected as the cause. As a protective function, the muscle is tensed even though there is no danger. Magnesium does not help against this.(20)
The effect has not yet been scientifically proven. However, researchers at North Dakota State University found that a glass of pickle water brought relief from calf cramps after less than a minute. The research team suspects that the sour taste "triggers a stimulus that restores dysfunctional reflexes in the body." (20, 21)
In the US, three studies were conducted with pregnant women, and four studies with adults prone to calf cramps. In the end, all studies found that magnesium did not significantly affect the duration, frequency and intensity of the calf cramps more than the placebo drug.(22, 23, 24)
Where can I buy magnesium chloride?
That's why you can get it as magnesium chloride mainly in pharmacies or with a larger selection on the internet. Numerous online shops offer their products here.
You can find a selection of magnesium chloride products at:
- Online pharmacies
- Online suppliers of dietary supplements
- Online shops like amazon.de, ebay.de
What side effects can magnesium chloride have?
Since the body excretes excess magnesium in the urine, no further side effects are to be expected if the kidneys are healthy.
Only if you have kidney insufficiency should you be careful about taking extra magnesium. In this case, the excess magnesium may remain in the body and, at very high doses (more than 2000 mg daily), lead to a drop in blood pressure or muscle weakness.
No side effects are known with external (transdermal) application with magnesium oil or spray.
What are the alternatives to magnesium chloride?
If you dissolve magnesium oxide or magnesium carbonate as effervescent (granulated with citric acid) in water, it is converted into magnesium citrate.
If you do not have any of the symptoms mentioned in the above chapter and are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding, the intake of magnesium through a healthy diet is sufficient.
The following table gives you an overview of foods rich in magnesium.(15, 26)
|Foods||Magnesium content per 100 g|
|Wheat bran||550 mg|
|Pumpkin seeds||535 mg|
|Sunflower seeds||420 mg|
|Dark chocolate||290 mg|
|Cashew nuts||270 mg|
|brown rice||157 mg|
|wholemeal flour||155 mg|
|wholemeal bread||90 mg|
The body absorbs about 40 % of the magnesium supplied through food.
Bananas, broccoli, peas, raspberries and Emmental cheese contain between 24 and 36 mg of magnesium (per 100 g). You cannot satisfy your magnesium needs from these foods alone.
Decision: What types of magnesium chloride are there and which is right for you?
Mostly, magnesium chloride is applied externally, i.e. transdermally, on the skin.
Strictly speaking, the vast majority of products are "magnesium chloride hexahydrate" in various forms. This contains more water than pure magnesium chloride. By completely removing the water, the product would cost much more, but without changing anything about the effect.
For transdermal use, you can either apply magnesium oil (rarely: magnesium cream) or spray on your skin or add magnesium flakes or powder to a foot or whole body bath.
There are few products with magnesium chloride for oral use. You can only get magnesium chloride in capsule form in combination with other magnesium compounds.
In the following we will show you the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of administration.
Magnesium chloride as flakes
You can use magnesium flakes for foot baths or full baths. To do this, add the flakes to water that is about 40 °C warm, whereby a 1-5% solution is ideal.
For magnesium flakes, the magnesium chloride is either mined underground from the former Zechstein Sea or magnesium chloride-containing water from the Dead Sea is dried so that crystals are formed from it.
If you prefer a relaxing bath and transdermal absorption of magnesium, magnesium flakes are ideal for you.
Magnesium chloride as oil or spray
Magnesium oil consists of magnesium chloride hexahydrate and water. Therefore, it is not actually an oil, but is named after its oily consistency.
As it has a very high magnesium content, you should only use it transdermally and not ingest it.
You can rub magnesium oil into your skin. You can also get it in the form of a magnesium spray.
Magnesium oil or spray is ideal for you if you don't want to take time for a bath every day. Nevertheless, massaging the oil into your skin has a relaxing effect.
Magnesium chloride powder
Magnesium chloride powder is mostly sold for transdermal use. You can make magnesium oil from it or use it as a bath additive as well.
Magnesium chloride powder is also used to supply magnesium to aquariums.
Less frequently, you can get powder suitable for consumption, which you can use to make a drinkable solution.
Magnesium chloride as a powder is particularly suitable for you if you cannot decide between a bath additive or massage oil.
Magnesium chloride in capsule form
Magnesium chloride as capsules is only available in a mixed form with other magnesium compounds such as magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate.
This ensures optimal bioavailability, because only in this way can your body absorb the magnesium ideally.
If you want to take magnesium chloride flexibly on the go and have no problem swallowing tablets, capsules are suitable. Especially if you are not prone to diarrhoea and are not convinced of transdermal absorption, you can use capsules.
Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate magnesium chloride
There are various criteria that can help you choose the right magnesium chloride product.
Below we give you an overview of the factors you should consider.
You can get magnesium chloride in different forms and sizes.
There are buckets with magnesium chloride powder or flakes between 1 and 5 kg. However, you can also get bags or sacks of up to 25 kg.
You can also find magnesium oil in different sizes from 100 ml spray bottles to 1 litre bottles.
Magnesium capsules are available in packages of 10 to 120.
The concentration of magnesium chloride hexahydrate varies depending on the dosage form.
Most products contain magnesium chloride in the following ratio:
- Magnesium chloride powder: 99-101 %
- Magnesium chloride flakes: 47
- Magnesium oil: 31
If the proportions differ, it is recommended to adjust the dosage accordingly.
All minerals naturally contain very small amounts of other substances such as potassium or even heavy metals. Depending on the degree of purity, the amount is lower.
In fact, most magnesium chloride products do not contain any other additives. Whether magnesium flakes, powder or magnesium oil - the products usually consist of 100 % pure magnesium chloride, which comes either from the original Zechstein Sea or the Dead Sea.
If you choose a cream enriched with magnesium chloride, it will contain other ingredients such as glycerine and urea. Read the information about the product. You can get simple information on ingredients, for example, via the Codecheck app.
Capsules with magnesium chloride also contain other Mg compounds, some B vitamins and the coating material of the capsule. The combination with other magnesium compounds can improve the absorption capacity.
Degree of purity
Most magnesium chloride products are available either in food grade or - even purer - in pharmaceutical grade. A pharmaceutical-grade product can also be used in the pharmaceutical industry, for example.
All minerals, including magnesium chloride, contain very small amounts of other substances such as potassium, calcium or heavy metals. Pharmaceutical-grade products are very thoroughly purified and contain fewer of these by-products.
There are the following purity levels:
- Technical quality (e.g. for industry)
- Food quality (e.g. for food)
- Pharmaceutical quality (e.g. for pharmacies)
- Analytical quality (e.g. for research)
Magnesium chloride also exists as a natural product that does not correspond to any of these purity levels. This is often the case with products from the Dead Sea. Since it is only coarsely and not chemically purified, you get it originally as it occurs in nature. This means that all the natural minerals of the Dead Sea are preserved.
Facts worth knowing about magnesium chloride
What is the shelf life of magnesium chloride?
Since magnesium chloride attracts moisture, you should store it in a dry and airtight place. It is best to store it vacuum-packed in a bag or in an airtight container.
If the magnesium chloride becomes moist, it can clump. This does not change the effect, but it makes it more difficult to dose. In this case, let it dry so that you can shake it vigorously to loosen the lumps.
If you store the magnesium chloride appropriately, it cannot go bad and can be kept forever, so to speak. Magnesium oil cannot go bad either.
If you take magnesium chloride orally, you might notice a bitter taste after 2-3 years. If this bothers you, you can always use it transdermally, e.g. as a bath additive.
How can I make my own magnesium oil from magnesium chloride?
Making your own magnesium oil is quite easy. We explain the procedure below.
- You need water, magnesium chloride hexahydrate as powder or flakes, a measuring cup and a container for storage.
- Dissolve about 30 g of the magnesium chloride in 100 ml of water. If you want to make one litre of magnesium oil, simply add 300 g of the powder to one litre of liquid. Stir the liquid until the magnesium chloride has dissolved. If you use water at body temperature, the magnesium will dissolve faster.
- Let the magnesium chloride solution cool down a little. Then you can transfer the magnesium oil into a spray bottle or a glass container.
The following video illustrates the production of magnesium oil and contains further interesting information on the topic.
Image source: Kitanovic/ 123rf.com
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