I've noticed in many vitamin C supplements that the ascorbic acid is "buffered" with some kind of mineral: eg, calcium, magnesium, sodium. Apparently this makes it easier to digest.
If you take one of these supplements, say, calcium ascorbate, you will be getting some ascorbic acid (vitamin C) along with some calcium. But if you're trying to minimize your calcium intake, you'd want to avoid this supplement, and go with a different buffered ascorbate. (If these assumptions are wrong, please correct me).
This has me wondering about magnesium supplements. I'm pretty sure I'm magnesium deficient, so I'm trying to take the best supplement I can find. I've heard that Albion chelates are good, so I'm currently taking Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium. It says it's "fully reacted" and "not buffered." It contains magnesium glycinate/lysinate chelate. I haven't been taking it very long, so I don't know how effective it is, but on paper it seems like it should be pretty good.
Anyway, I'm wondering about magnesium supplements that ARE buffered (I've seen claims that they are better absorbed). Here are a couple examples: Bluebonnet Albion Chelated Magnesium and Integrated Supplements Magnesium. Both claim to have buffered magnesium glycinate.
So my question is... how are these two supplements "buffered"? Are they buffered to a mineral that isn't listed? I don't see anything in the ingredients of the buffered magnesium to indicate they are much different from the non-buffered magnesium. What's the deal? If these are buffered with calcium, I'd like to know.
If my understanding of "buffered" is wrong, please set me straight. And let me know which magnesium supplement you think is best. Thanks.
asked byshtoink (401)
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on December 14, 2011
at 07:49 PM
Buffering does often include adding a mineral to regulate the pH of the final product. In most cases, magnesium is buffered with chlorine (MgCl2). Magnesium is an alkali, so in this case, buffering would add an 'acidic' to bring it to the same pH as where it is intended to be used (in this case, the 7.3-7.4 range of the human bloodstream). Magnesium, in and of itself, in pure water (Magnesium hydroxide or Mg(OH2)has an alkaline pH of 10.3 or thereabouts. "Buffered" magnesium (usually Magnesium Chloride (MGCl2)) buffers the magnesium with an acidic buffer (hydrochloride) to make MgCl2, with a pH of 7.0, which is considered "neutral" -- therefore, it should be less harsh on the system than simple magnesium hydroxide (aka Milk of Magnesia).
Theoretically (and this comes from my companion, who is a biochemist), the buffered version will do less damage to the organs as the pieces are broken apart in the digestive system, and, because it is close to normal body pH, molecules will be more readily accepted in the bloodstream. She also noted that they use a buffered magnesium in human cell culture in her lab, because it reduces the cellular destruction common in the tissue culture process -- using a culture medium with buffered minerals improves cellular viability substantially.
Hope this helps.
on April 20, 2013
at 05:09 AM
To resurrect an old thread, there is some interesting discussion about this issue here:
(I looked this up after finishing the Bluebonnet bottle I bought a while ago and finding one of Doctor's Best's that I think I bought at the same time...)
If the reviewer is to be believed, buffer means to mix the substance with (cheaper) forms (this is similar to what schtoink in a below comment suggests. In the case of magnesium, Bluebonnet and other Albion 'buffered' forms of Magnesium are said to contain up to 50mg magnesium oxide per 200mg capsule (this is derived from the reviewer making contact with with Albion). 'Unbuffered' supplements meanwhile contain are what is on the label: so in the case of 'Doctor's Best Magnesium', the magnesium is 100% bound glyscine/lyscine, as advertised.
Firestorm, Schloink, any though re how this accords with the insights about PH etc? On the one hand it seems buffered includes a form that is poorly absorbed; on the other unbuffered doesn't include this form but may be more difficult, damaging to be processed regardless due to having a higher PH. I tend to agree with the conclusion made already by the OP that the buffered seems relatively more desirable (despite this, will probably try the Doctor's Best- it will be interesting to see if it has more pronounced effects given it may not include chelates that are more poorly absorbed...)
on December 14, 2011
at 06:30 PM
My recollection on the buffering is that it is used to offset the acid or base in items so it is more of a neutral PH and easier to digest. I usually see this with acids though (like vitamin C or aspirin). Not sure on the Magnesium.
on February 25, 2013
at 02:29 AM
I realize that this is an older post, but perhaps I can help shed some light on the issue. I represent Integrated Supplements, so I can offer insight into our Bio-Available Magnesium product.
Albion???s Buffered Magnesium Glycinate Chelate contains very small amounts of Magnesium Oxide as a buffering agent. Though Magnesium Oxide is relatively poorly absorbed, the small amount of it in Buffered Magnesium Glycinate Chelate actually serves to improve absorption over Non-Buffered Magnesium Glycinate. At least, this is what Albion???s studies have shown. There???s a graph from one of their studies in the Q&A section of our website which shows that Buffered Magnesium Glycinate and DiMagnesium Malate were the two best-absorbed forms:
This (in conjunction with the biological effects of both glycine and malic acid) are why we use these two Magnesium forms in our product.