Essential Ingredients

Get to Know Ritual’s Magnesium with Dr. Jonathan Bortz and Ren Gonzalez of Albion

4 min read

Could you tell us a little bit about your company and how it’s different from other players in the nutraceutical space?

Dr. Bortz: Albion Minerals®, a subsidiary of Balchem, is known as the company that developed chelated minerals to improve bioavailability and improve tolerability. With products in the human nutrition market for decades and the subject of about 150 clinical studies published in peer reviewed journals, Balchem has truly set the bar for scientific standards of efficacy and safety.

We also have a scientific department dedicated to understanding absorption kinetics, human metabolism and physiology. We have a robust intellectual property portfolio of over 162 US and international patents and dozens still pending for novel new ways to improve mineral nutrition.

How is the DMM form of Magnesium different from other forms?

Ren Gonzalez: DMM is a novel composition because it has Magnesium salts on both ends of the molecule. One of the main reasons you would take DMM is because it has a high potency of Magnesium relative to other sources. One of the other common supplementation sources is Magnesium oxide, which is potent but poorly bioavailable. Other forms are more bioavailable, but can cause GI issues. DMM allows you to have a high concentration of Magnesium without some of the negatives that happen with other non-organic minerals on the market.

Why do women need Magnesium when pregnant or when they’re trying to get pregnant?

Dr. Bortz: Pregnant women need more Magnesium for two reasons. Firstly, the baby has its own Magnesium needs, which only increase as the pregnancy advances. What is not so obvious is that pregnant women excrete up to 20% more Magnesium through urine than non-pregnant women. This is because during pregnancy, changes in mom's blood volume and hormonal actions on kidney function tend to cause additional loss of Magnesium from the body. Despite this increase in demand for Magnesium, most women of childbearing age do not reach the recommended dietary allowances of Magnesium (310mg) and approximately 50% of pregnant women don't meet their needs either.

Does Magnesium support the baby’s development or is it mostly for the mom?

Dr. Bortz: Magnesium supports both mom and baby. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help maintain blood pressure already within the normal range, reduce leg cramps during pregnancy, and support normal blood sugar metabolism. Magnesium plays a key role in over 300 metabolic processes and needs to be in adequate supply for the developing embryo.

Are there genetic factors that prevent women from absorbing enough Magnesium?

Dr. Bortz: This is a very interesting question and the answer is much more complex than time allows, but here goes. Yes, there is an important genetic consideration for Magnesium absorption and usage by the body. The important transporter protein called TRPM 6 helps your gut absorb Magnesium by moving it from inside your intestines (food) into your cells and bloodstream. The same receptor moves Magnesium in and out of the kidneys during normal kidney filtration. Some people with a genetic variation that affects this transporter protein may be more prone to Magnesium shortfalls because they have lower Magnesium absorption and more Magnesium leakage into their urine. This results in a net decrease in Magnesium status. This can affect baby’s development as well as mom's ability to convert sugar to energy.

So, in summary, you have opened up a bit of a Pandora’s Box with this question, and the answer clearly points to the importance of Magnesium in pregnancy, regardless of whether a woman in the childbearing years has a genetic variation.

Can we find this form of Magnesium in the foods we eat? What kinds of foods?

Ren: Apples are the first that come to mind. But also apricots, watermelon, blueberries. Magnesium is also found in foods. So it’s possible that Magnesium malate is found in the same foods.

How is the DMM made?

Ren: DMM is made using an acid/base reaction between basic Magnesium and malic acid. Sort of like mixing vinegar with baking soda, but a lot more complicated than that.

Can you tell us a little bit about how the Magnesium is sourced? Is it natural or synthetic? If natural, what is it derived from?

Ren: The Magnesium is made in an industrial process but is derived from natural sources. Most magnesium that you get is extracted from seawater. In that form, it exists as Magnesium chloride, and then it’s processed to get to the pure Magnesium. DMM comes from combining malic acid and Magnesium. Malic acid comes primarily from fruits. Our malic acid comes from a synthetic source because it’s more affordable and easier to control purity and limit contamination than getting it from a natural source. We’re really using malic acid as a delivery system. Malic acid is malic acid whether it comes from fruit or a lab.

Does the ingredient have any certifications?

Ren: Yes, DMM is non-GMO certified.

What kinds of human studies have you conducted on your ingredient?

Dr. Bortz: Several human studies with Albion’s Magnesium chelates have shown that the chelates are more bioavailable than Magnesium oxide, another form. They have also showed that Magnesium chelates are a lot easier on your GI system.

One study that deserves special attention was conducted on subjects who had had the distal part of their small intestine removed (ileal resection). Why is this study so important? Firstly, because nearly 50% of all Magnesium gets absorbed in the ileum. Because this population no longer has their ileum, Magnesium shortfalls is a problem. They are also very sensitive to the laxative effects of Magnesium. The researchers were keenly aware that if the Magnesium wasn't well-tolerated, those who need Magnesium supplementation most would not benefit. In a head-to-head comparison, it was shown that the patients lowest in Magnesium did much better with chelated Magnesium (in this case Magnesium bisglycinate) compared to Magnesium oxide. The chelate subjects had few GI symptoms and therefore tolerated the supplementation much better.

This was confirmed in a more recent human study comparing tolerability of higher doses of Magnesium chelates compared to other organic Magnesium products in 22 healthy individuals. Despite the Institute of Medicine cautioning about exceeding 360mg of Magnesium because of the laxative effects, Albion’s dimagnesium malate (DMM) and Magnesium bisglycinate were both well tolerated in doses up to 600mg.

Albion Minerals® is a registered trademark of Albion Laboratories, Inc