Does magnesium make you poop? Magnesium is a mineral found in certain groups of foods and mineral-rich water. It’s vital for hundreds of our body processes – including being a natural laxative.
That’s why it is so popular with people who struggle with constipation, and the medical professionals who support them.
The Magnesium Crisis
Living in a modern society with refined foods, and chemically cleansed water has resulted in what is largely called “The Magnesium Crisis.”
This means that the foods we eat and the water we drink are deficient in much of our bodies’ daily magnesium needs. Studies have shown that 48% of the US population takes in less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium.
Magnesium in Constipation
A person is classified as having constipation if they have three or fewer bowel movements a week. The stool will generally be harder, dry, lumpy, and painful to pass.
Being constipated is not only uncomfortable, but it’s bad for your health. Chronic constipation leads to stools being “stuck”, accumulating in your intestines, and hardening.
When you are finally able to pass stool is where the problems happen, including suffering from hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and impaction.
Magnesium deficiency may not be the overriding cause of constipation. Other culprits include dehydration, lack of fiber in your diet, low physical activity, or other medical conditions.
But magnesium can help bring relief for occasional constipation – and in a more natural form than taking over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives.
How Magnesium Works for Constipation Relief
Magnesium has a temporary laxative effect. It works to help relax the muscles of the intestines, which encourages easier passage of stools. Because it naturally draws water into the intestines, it increases the size of the stool and softens it, triggering a bowel movement.
Drawing water into the intestines is called the “osmotic effect.” This effect is due to ion ratios – when there are more unabsorbed mineral ions in the intestinal tract than in the intestinal cell walls.
The body’s natural response is to seek equilibrium, which is actioned by water trickling from the walls of the intestinal mucosa to create a balance between the ratios of absorbed and unabsorbed magnesium mineral ions.
In simple terms, a mass of water is “dumped” into the intestine, resulting in easy-to-pass stools.
Types of Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium supplements are most effective when combined with organic compounds or amino acids. Magnesium on its own is difficult for the body to absorb, so combining it with something else makes for easier transportation through the relevant channels, and for effective absorption.
The bonding of magnesium to different compounds results in different effects on the body.
By far the most popular for constipation relief is magnesium citrate. This form of supplement works exceptionally through the osmotic process and is easily digested. The combination of magnesium with citric acid makes it easy for the body to absorb and extends its lifespan.
It’s also one of the supplements that’s easier on the pocket than its counterparts.
There are, however, instances where your healthcare provider should be consulted before taking magnesium citrate. These include:
- If you have problems with your kidneys or a kidney disease
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- If you follow a low-magnesium or low-sodium diet
- If you are taking antibiotics
- And if you’ve had a change in your usual bowel movement patterns for longer than two weeks
- If you’ve had certain medical procedures, including removal of obstructions of the colon or stomach
- If you have a heart condition or damaged heart muscles
Magnesium Side Effects
Magnesium citrate isn’t dangerous, however, taking more than your body needs to induce bowel relief can result in diarrhea – the most common side effect. Other side effects include:
- Intestinal gas
- Stomach cramps and a bubbly feeling in your stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
If you experience any of these, lower your dose of magnesium citrate.
Note: magnesium citrate is not effective for chronic constipation treatment. Using it too often can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration. If you feel your constipation is more serious than the odd blockage, consult your doctor.
Alternatives to Magnesium Citrate
This is an excellent alternative to its citrate counterpart. A mixture of magnesium and oxygen, this alternative is potent and doesn’t get absorbed into the intestinal lining, making the osmotic effect higher.
Often seen in OTC products such as Milk Of Magnesia, magnesium hydroxide also draws water into the intestines to soften stools.
You’ll likely know this better by its common name: Epsom salts. Magnesium sulfate can be dissolved into water and drunk to draw water into the intestines and soften stools. If the appropriate amount does not dissolve in the water, however, this can lead to bowel irritation.
Upping your magnesium intake through natural sources is always best. These include fiber-rich foods, dark chocolate, nuts including peanuts and almonds, and beans such as kidney beans and black beans. Don’t forget your dark green leafy vegetables.
Incorporating natural magnesium into your diet isn’t only the best way to combat constipation, it’s also the most cost-effective. Making sure you have a balanced diet rich in micro and macronutrients will not only improve your bowel movements, but it will also boost your overall health and mood more than supplements ever could.
Healthcare practitioners recommend the following protocol for magnesium intake, which helps you to identify whether you are taking the correct dosage of magnesium. However, if you get your magnesium with dosage instructions, follow those.
- In the evening before bedtime, take 400mg of magnesium with a glass of water.
- If you have a bowel movement the next morning, then you’ve reached what is called “bowel tolerance” – your ideal level of magnesium intake.
- If not, take an additional 400mg in the morning, and wait until the afternoon. Allow at least four hours to pass.
- If you still haven’t experienced a bowel movement, take another 400mg. Allow four hours to pass.
- If you have still not had a bowel movement by the second day, you may need to consider more chronic constipation relief, in which case we suggest consulting a pharmacist or your physician.
Tip: For optimal absorption, take a B-vitamin complex once a day.
Additional Magnesium Benefits
While treating constipation is one of the primary uses of OTC magnesium, there are other great benefits too.
Magnesium glycinate is considered the most passive magnesium supplement. Because it’s gentle on the stomach, there’s little chance of indigestion. Its superpower, however, lies in its ability to reduce migraines, improve mood, and assist with restful sleep.
Other benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Moderating blood-sugar levels
- Decreasing cramping
- Assisting with indigestion
- Assisting with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
While the pros of magnesium are overwhelming, there are some considerations to be aware of.
Too much magnesium can cause kidney problems, and result in “ischemic colitis” – permanent damage to the intestines. Always be sure to read the labels carefully.
Interference with antibiotics
Certain antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin don’t work efficiently when supplemental magnesium is introduced into your diet. If you’re taking antibiotics, ensure that you speak to your physician before taking magnesium supplements.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Magnesium deficiency may occur while a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Magnesium helps those calf, foot, and hand muscles that often cramp in pregnancy to relax. It also helps a baby’s immune system to become stronger when a mother is breastfeeding.
But a magnesium imbalance can lead to pregnancy complications. The magnesium RDA in pregnancy is 400mg, while during lactation it is 360mg. Chat to your physician to ensure you are keeping your levels
Of course, prevention of constipation is always better than having to opt for a cure. Here are some useful ways to keep your bowels in tip-top condition:
Include Fiber-rich Foods
Fiber adds bulk to the stool, helping it to pass through the intestines. Foods that are fiber-filled include:
- Psyllium husk, wheat germ, and glucomannan
- Whole-grain pasta and cereals
Fruit and Vegetables
Double-up on Water
Staying hydrated helps your stools to stay soft and easily movable through the intestines.
One of the major causes of constipation is inactivity. Exercise helps the muscles contract, which moves stools through your intestines. It also lowers the time it takes for your stools to pass through your intestines.
A Final Word – Does magnesium make you poop?
Magnesium is important in your daily diet. Living in the current day where foods and water don’t supply enough magnesium, it’s important to be proactive in ensuring your body has enough magnesium to keep it healthy and keep the waste-removal system working optimally.
So does magnesium make you poop? Yes, and thank goodness for it.