Topical vs. Oral Magnesium

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Adequate magnesium levels are critical to overall health. Unfortunately, today, 80% of adults are deficient in magnesium. Knowing these staggering rates of deficiency, it’s no wonder that there are a variety of supplements on the market for increasing your magnesium levels.

Other than IV magnesium (which is used by physicians in an emergency) there are two primary methods you can use at home to increase your magnesium intake.

Oral magnesium (taken by mouth) and topical magnesium (applied to the skin).


But, how do you know the best option for you? Both oral and topical magnesium can increase your body’s magnesium levels, but rates of absorption and potential side-effects can vary. 

The Science on Topical Magnesium:  

A study published by Watkins and Josling found that after 12 weeks of transdermal magnesium treatment, 89% of subjects increased their cellular magnesium levels with an average increase of 59.7%. For comparison, similar results have been achieved through oral supplementation over a 9-24 month period. In addition, 78% of the topical magnesium patients also showed evidence of detoxification of heavy metals at the end of the study. (1)

Additional researchers have shown that magnesium chloride can be effectively absorbed by the body through the skin and that a body’s magnesium levels can significantly increase as a result. (2) One study found that massaging the application area for a couple of minutes after applying magnesium oil helps to encourage the absorption of magnesium chloride. (3)

The Final Verdict:

Many people who experience unpleasant side effects from oral supplementation of magnesium find that they can tolerate topical magnesium much easier.

With quicker absorption rates and increases in overall magnesium levels, magnesium oil is a safe and effective magnesium solution for most people. 

Are you in?

(1)  Watkins K, Josling PD. A pilot study to determine the impact of transdermal magnesium treatment on serum levels and whole body CaMg ratios. European Journal of Nutraceutical Research April 2010



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