Magnesium Aspartate

There is little doubt that some people would benefit from taking magnesium supplements. There are numerous health issues that are discussed extensively elsewhere on this website where a deficiency in magnesium is impacting on the health and wellbeing of an individual. As a population subset, athletes and those who have heavy exercise regimes who may be particularly susceptible to a magnesium deficiency. But although magnesium itself may very well offer benefits, there may be some problems with some of the types of magnesium often used in nutritional supplements and this article considers a popular form, namely magnesium aspartate.

magnesium aspartate

Magnesium aspartate is a mineral amino acid where the magnesium is chemically bound to the amino acid and comes under the umbrella term of a chelate.

What is considered to be the issue with aspartate is that it is known to be an excitatory neurotransmitter that in effect stimulates neurons in the brain to fire. When the dose reaches a high level then there is the potential to stimulate the neurons to such an extent that the result is injury and/or cell death.

Within a “normal” diet then the level of amino acids in food proteins that excite the neurons rarely would reach a significant level. When amino acids such as magnesium aspartate are taken as a supplement though then there is the potential for the blood levels to rise to a more dangerous level.

Magnesium Aspartate and Neuron Excitation

An irony associated with supplementing with magnesium aspartate is that one reason to take magnesium is to reduce the impact of neuron excitation. By using the aspartate form to take magnesium then some of the benefits may be completely offset (and even surpassed) by the impact that aspartate has. Indeed it could easily be argued that those people who would benefit the most from magnesium supplementation such as epileptics and those who are affected with depression and anxiety, are those who would be negatively impacted the most by using magnesium aspartate In a research study Camfield et al commented that "Aspartame appears to exacerbate the amount of EEG spike wave in children with absence seizures. " (1).

In a similar vein, those affected with fibromyalgia may be recommended to consider taking magnesium supplements. But the supplementation using magnesium aspartate may be counterproductive as it could be considered as an “excitotoxins”. Smith et al (2) found that reducing dietary excitotoxins had a positive impact on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Magnesium Aspartate Recommendation

As there are other forms of magnesium that are readily available, easily taken and relatively rapidly absorbed then if you have been recommended to take magnesium then, on balance, there are probably better sources than magnesium aspartate.

(1)"Aspartame exacerbates EEG spike-wave discharge in children with generalized absence epilepsy: a double-blind controlled study." Camfield PR1, Camfield CS, Dooley JM, Gordon K, Jollymore S, Weaver DF. Neurology. 1992 May;42(5):1000-3. (2)"Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins." Smith JD1, Terpening CM, Schmidt SO, Gums JG. Ann Pharmacother. 2001 Jun;35(6):702-6.