Magnesium is a mineral that supports us in the process of turning food into energy and helps us to produce hormones that aid healthy bones, and it’s found in foods like spinach, nuts, and wholemeal bread.1
Magnesium citrate, however, has a very specific purpose—as a natural relief for constipation.
We’ll tell you all about how magnesium citrate works, how much you can safely take, and whether there are any side effects you should be aware of…
Just keep reading!
Magnesium citrate is a combination of magnesium, salt, and citric acid—also known as a “saline laxative” as it’s so effective in relieving constipation and helping to clear out the intestines.2
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There are a number of magnesium citrate benefits for the body, most of which revolve around your intestines.
For example, before surgery or bowel procedures, such as colonoscopies or radiography, many doctors recommend a magnesium citrate dosage for bowel cleansing.
This helps to remove any stool from your intestines, giving experts a clean and clear view of your intestines.
In the same way, magnesium citrate constipation relief is often used. How does it work? Well, magnesium citrate increases water in the intestines which supports the passing of stool.
However, the magnesium citrate laxative effect is quite strong, and although a natural alternative, it is recommended that you begin with milder options such as stool softeners and bulk-forming laxatives before trying a magnesium citrate solution.
Magnesium citrate comes in many different forms, making it easy to consume when and how you need to:
We’ll tell you about three of our favourite products soon, but first, let’s quickly discuss some rules around taking magnesium citrate:
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We’ve been talking about magnesium citrate as a potential solution for helping relieve constipation, but how does it actually work?
Well, magnesium citrate is something called an “osmotic laxative,” meaning it helps your bowels to relax while drawing more water in your intestines. This water then helps to soften and bulk your stool together, linked to easier bowel movements.
The correct magnesium citrate dosage is important and varies based on your needs, age, and response to treatment. The recommended dosages for constipation by age are:
Below 6 years: 0.5ml, orally, up to a maximum of 200ml. At the advice of a doctor.
6 to 12 years: 100-150ml, orally, one time.
Adults: 240ml, orally, one time.
As magnesium citrate is quite a strong, albeit natural, solution to constipation, it is not advised to take it daily.
If magnesium citrate is taken too often, it may adversely affect your normal bowel function and even leave you with a laxative dependence. This means that you would have difficulty having a bowel movement without the use of a laxative.
Symptoms of overuse include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is advised that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
It varies by person and dosage, but you should normally see the effects of magnesium citrate between 30 minutes and 6 hours. We’d recommend staying close to home—or a bathroom—while you’re waiting!
Magnesium citrate is believed to be safe for most people, however, as it is quite a strong solution for constipation, it can be linked with side effects like diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, and dehydration as more water is being passed through your intestines.
More serious side effects may also include:
If you do experience any of the serious side effects above, it’s advised that you stop taking magnesium citrate and contact your doctor immediately.
When used at the advice of a medical profession and in the correct dosage, magnesium citrate is safe for most people.
However, if you have certain conditions or issues prior to taking a magnesium citrate supplement, you should speak to a doctor for confirmation. These include:
There have also been cases where magnesium citrate may reduce or stop the effects of other medications.
For example, the effectiveness of medications related to HIV may be affected or reduced when also taking magnesium citrate.
Wow, we learned a lot today!
As you can see, magnesium does a lot for our body, supporting us in creating energy from the food we eat, healthy bones, and strong teeth.
When combined with salt and citric acid, it becomes magnesium citrate, helping to relieve constipation.
Then, there are even magnesium citrate supplements which help you to get your recommended daily intake of magnesium without inducing bowel movements. It really can do it all.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 2 March 2022
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.