Food With Magnesium Citrate


Food With Magnesium Citrate is a blog dedicated to educating people about magnesium and how to use it as a supplement. Learning new ways to eat your magnesium, which foods provide magnesium and other great tips will help you live a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Food With Magnesium Citrate

  • Pumpkin seed – kernels: Serving Size 1 oz, 168 mg
  • Almonds, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 80 mg
  • Spinach, boiled: Serving Size ½ cup, 78 mg
  • Cashews, dry roasted: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds in shell: Serving Size 1 oz, 74 mg
  • Peanuts, oil roasted: Serving Size ¼ cup, 63 mg
  • Cereal, shredded wheat: Serving Size 2 large biscuits, 61 mg
  • Soymilk, plain or vanilla: Serving Size 1 cup, 61 mg
  • Black beans, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 60 mg
  • Edamame, shelled, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 50 mg
  • Dark chocolate -60-69% cacoa: Serving Size 1 oz, 50 mg
  • Peanut butter, smooth: Serving Size 2 tablespoons, 49 mg
  • Bread, whole wheat: Serving Size 2 slices, 46 mg
  • Avocado, cubed: Serving Size 1 cup, 44 mg
  • Potato, baked with skin: Serving Size 3.5 oz, 43 mg
  • Rice, brown, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 42 mg
  • Yogurt, plain, low fat: Serving Size 8 oz, 42 mg
  • Breakfast cereals fortified: Serving Size 10% fortification, 40 mg
  • Oatmeal, instant: Serving Size 1 packet, 36 mg
  • Kidney beans, canned: Serving Size ½ cup, 35 mg
  • Banana: Serving Size 1 medium, 32 mg
  • Cocoa powder– unsweetened: Serving Size 1 tablespoon, 27 mg
  • Salmon, Atlantic, farmed: Serving Size 3 oz, 26 mg
  • Milk: Serving Size 1 cup, 24–27 mg
  • Halibut, cooked: Serving Size 3 oz, 24 mg
  • Raisins: Serving Size ½ cup, 23 mg
  • Chicken breast, roasted: Serving Size 3 oz, 22 mg
  • Beef, ground, 90% lean: Serving Size 3 oz, 20 mg
  • Broccoli, chopped & cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 12 mg
  • Rice, white, cooked: Serving Size ½ cup, 10 mg
  • Apple: Serving Size 1 medium, 9 mg
  • Carrot, raw: Serving Size 1 medium, 7 mg

In general rich sources of magnesium are greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains, wheat germ, wheat and oat bran. The recommended dietary allowance for magnesium for adult men is 400-420 mg per day. The dietary allowance for adult women is 310-320 mg per day.

For additional information please visit The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Nutrient Database website (see References) which lists the nutrient content of many foods and where you can search a comprehensive list of foods for magnesium content.

Health Benefits

Magnesium citrate is a good source of magnesium ions that are needed throughout the body. Magnesium is needed in every tissue in the body. It works with nucleic acids to produce energy, and it is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate protein production, signal transmission in nerves and muscles, blood pressure, blood glucose, and other functions.

The health benefits of magnesium citrate include:

Digestion Regulation

Magnesium citrate causes the intestines to release water into the stool. This softens the stool and relieves constipation and irregularity. Magnesium citrate is more gentle than some of the other magnesium compounds and found as the active ingredient in many commercially available laxatives.

Muscle and Nerve Support

Magnesium is needed in order for muscles and nerves to function properly. Magnesium ions, along with calcium and potassium ions, provide the electrical charges that cause muscles to contract and that allow nerves to send electrical signals throughout the body.

Bone Strength

Magnesium citrate helps to regulate the transport of calcium across cell membranes, playing a key role in bone creation. The bones are also a reservoir that stores magnesium for the body. Approximately 60% of the body’s total magnesium is in the bones.

Heart Health

Magnesium helps to keep the heartbeat regular, by regulating conduction of the electrical signals that control the heart’s timing. Magnesium citrate is commonly used to prevent arrhythmia. Arterial stiffness is a risk factor related to atherosclerosis that can cause cardiovascular problems. Magnesium citrate helps to make the artery walls more flexible, reducing this risk.

Types of magnesium supplements and their benefits

There are different types of magnesium that people can get from dietary supplements. Each has different advantages and disadvantages. For example, some types of magnesium are easier to absorb than others.

Magnesium is one of the most common minerals in the body. It plays a role in over 600Trusted Source metabolic reactions, including energy production, protein formation, and blood pressure regulation.

However, some people need extra help getting enough magnesium. Choosing the right magnesium supplement can help boost levels of this nutrient and may help with various medical conditions.

This article looks at the different types of magnesium, their pros and cons, and how people can choose between them.

What types of magnesium are there?

A person browsing for different types of magnesium supplement in a pharmacy. They are holding a bottle and reading the label.
d3sign/Getty Images

There are many types of magnesium present in dietary supplements and food products. These include:

  • magnesium citrate
  • magnesium glycinate
  • magnesium chloride
  • magnesium lactate
  • magnesium malate
  • magnesium taurate
  • magnesium sulfate
  • magnesium oxide

Each type of magnesium has different properties. They can vary in terms of their:

  • medical uses
  • bioavailability, or how easy it is for the body to absorb them
  • potential side effects

A person should seek the advice of a doctor or dietitian before trying a magnesium supplement.

In high doses, magnesium can be toxic. Also, it can interactTrusted Source with some medications, such as antibiotics, and is unsuitable for people with certain underlying conditions, including kidney disease.

Magnesium glycinate

Magnesium glycinate is a compound of magnesium and glycine, an amino acid.

ResearchTrusted Source on magnesium glycine indicates that people tolerate it well and that it seems to cause minimal side effects. This means it may be a good option for people who require higher doses of this nutrient or who experience side effects when using other types of magnesium.

Magnesium lactate

This type of magnesium is a compound of magnesium and lactic acid. According to a 2017 analysisTrusted Source, there is evidence that magnesium lactate absorbs in the gut easily.

Magnesium malate

This type of magnesium is a compound of magnesium and malic acid. Some evidence suggests that it is highly bioavailable and that people tolerate it well.

A 2019 animal studyTrusted Source found that out of several types of magnesium, magnesium malate was the fastest to absorb after a single dose. This may also be true of humans, but human trials are necessary to confirm this.

A 2018 studyTrusted Source in humans reports that a supplement containing a combination of magnesium malate and several vitamins caused few digestive side effects.

Magnesium citrate

Magnesium citrate is a popular form of magnesium. It is often an ingredient in supplements and appears to be easier for the body to absorb than some other forms.

An older 2003 studyTrusted Source of 46 adults found that magnesium citrate absorbed better than magnesium oxide and magnesium chelate.

However, doctorsTrusted Source also use magnesium citrate to treat constipation. For some people, this may mean it causes unwanted digestive side effects, such as diarrhea.

For topical use

Some people use magnesium on the skin. The types of magnesium people can use in this way include:

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is a type of salt that people can find in topical magnesium products, such as magnesium oils and some bath salts. People use it as an alternative method for getting more magnesium.

However, it is unclear whether the skin is capable of absorbing much magnesium via this method.

A 2017 reviewTrusted Source concludes that while there is evidence that the body can absorb a small amount of magnesium through the skin, large-scale studies are necessary to determine its effectiveness.

People can also take magnesium chloride internally, as the intestines absorb it wellTrusted Source. However, as with some other types of magnesium, it may cause digestive side effects.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is the form of magnesium in Epsom salts.

Many people add Epsom salts to baths and foot soaks to soothe aching muscles. However, there is little high quality evidenceTrusted Source showing that the body can absorb much magnesium from magnesium sulfate baths.

For specific conditions

Several types of magnesium can help treat constipation, such as magnesium citrate. Other types may have utility as medical treatments.

Magnesium oxide

Doctors may use magnesium oxide to treat constipation or as an antacid for heartburn or indigestion.

Magnesium oxide is also present in some dietary supplements. However, the body does not absorb this form of magnesium well, according to a 2017 analysisTrusted Source.

Magnesium taurate

This type of magnesium is a compound of magnesium and taurine. Limited evidence suggests it may have the potential to lower blood pressure and protect the cardiovascular system.

Authors of a 2018 animal studyTrusted Source report that magnesium taurate reduced high blood pressure and heart damage in rats that had taken a toxic substance. The researchers conclude that this shows the potential of magnesium taurate as a cardioprotective nutritional supplement.

However, until more research takes place, people should not use magnesium supplements as treatments for cardiovascular conditions.

How to choose a magnesium product

When choosing magnesium products, it is important to consider:

  • how much magnesium a person already consumes in their diet
  • whether a supplement or topical product is necessary
  • how much additional magnesium a person needs
  • the best format for delivery, that is, oral or topical

This can help with choosing a product that will be safe and effective.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA)Trusted Source of magnesium is 400–420 milligrams (mg) for adult males and 310–360 mg for adult females. During pregnancy and lactation, a person’s RDA may increase to 400 mg daily.

People can determine whether they need help getting more magnesium by asking a doctor to test their magnesium levels.

Health benefits of magnesium

Magnesium plays a crucial role in the body, regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels, neurotransmitters, and more.

For those who do not get enough magnesium, taking more mayTrusted Source:

  • improve sleep quality
  • boost mental health
  • ease muscle aches
  • help people quit smoking
  • boost vitamin D absorption
  • support health during pregnancy
  • promote bone health

There is also some evidence magnesium may be useful as part of a treatment plan for the following conditions:

  • migraine
  • asthma
  • anxiety and depression
  • diabetes and diabetic neuropathy
  • metabolic syndrome
  • eclampsia and preeclampsia

A person should consult a doctor before taking any supplement for an underlying health condition.

Food sources

People can get more magnesium from their food. Dietary sources of magnesium includeTrusted Source:

  • roasted pumpkin seeds, which contain 37% of the daily value per ounce (oz)
  • chia seeds, which contain 26% of the daily value per oz
  • almonds, which contain 19% of the daily value per 1 oz
  • boiled spinach, which contains 19% of the daily value per 1/2 cup

Cashews, peanuts, soy milk, and black beans are also good sources. Many other foods contain smaller amounts.

However, the body only absorbs around 30–40% of the dietary magnesium a person consumes. This, combined with the relatively small amount of foods that contain high amounts of magnesium, may make it challenging for some people to get enough of this nutrient from their diet.


Magnesium is essential for health. For some people, a magnesium supplement may be necessary to get enough of this mineral.

Several types of magnesium are suitable as dietary supplements, such as magnesium citrate, glycinate, and lactate. Other kinds have topical uses, such as in baths or on the skin.

People should seek guidance from a doctor before starting taking a magnesium supplement or using a topical magnesium product, as they are not suitable for everybody.

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Magnesium is an important mineral, playing a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body. Its many functions include helping with muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, and supporting the immune system.

An adult body contains around 25 gram (g) of magnesiumTrusted Source, 50–60% of which the skeletal system stores. The rest is present in muscle, soft tissues, and bodily fluids.

Many people in the United States do notTrusted Source get enough magnesium in their diet, though deficiency symptoms are uncommon in otherwise healthy people.

Doctors link magnesium deficiency with a range of health complications, so people should aim to meet their daily recommended levels of magnesium.

Almonds, spinach, and cashew nuts are some of the foods highest in magnesium. If a person cannot get enough magnesium through their diet, their doctor may recommend taking supplements.

In this article, we look at the function and benefits of magnesium, what it does in the body, dietary sources, and possible health risks doctors link to too much.


a woman eating nuts and seeds as a source of magnesium
Many types of nuts and seeds are rich in magnesium.

Magnesium is one of seven essential macrominerals. These macrominerals are minerals that people need to consume in relatively large amounts — at least 100 milligrams (mg) per day. Microminerals, such as iron and zinc, are just as important, though people need them in smaller amounts.

Magnesium is vital for many bodily functions. Getting enough of this mineral can help prevent or treat chronic diseases, includingTrusted Source Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and migraine.

The following sections discuss the function of magnesium in the body and its effects on a person’s health.

1. Bone health

While most research has focused on the role of calcium in bone health, magnesium is also essential for healthy bone formation.

Research from 2013Trusted Source has linked adequate magnesium intake with higher bone density, improved bone crystal formation, and a lower risk of osteoporosis in females after menopause.

Magnesium may improve bone health both directly and indirectly, as it helps to regulate calcium and vitamin D levels, which are two other nutrients vital for bone health.

2. Diabetes

Research has linked high magnesium diets with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This may be because magnesium plays an important roleTrusted Source in glucose control and insulin metabolism.

A 2015 reviewTrusted Source in the World Journal of Diabetes reports that most, but not all, people with diabetes have low magnesium and that magnesium may play a role in diabetes management.

A magnesium deficiency may worsen insulin resistance, which is a condition that often develops before type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, insulin resistance may cause low magnesium levels.

In many studies, researchers have linked high magnesium diets with diabetes. In addition, a systematic review from 2017 suggests that taking magnesium supplements can also improve insulin sensitivity in people with low magnesium levels.

However, researchers need to gather more evidence before doctors can routinely use magnesium for glycemic control in people with diabetes.

3. Cardiovascular health

The body needs magnesium to maintain the health of muscles, including the heart. Research has found that magnesium plays an important role in heart health.

A 2018 review reports that magnesium deficiency can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular problems. This is partly due to its roles on a cellular level. The authors observe that magnesium deficiency is common in people with congestive heart failure and can worsen their clinical outcomes.

People who receive magnesium soon after a heart attack have a lower risk of mortality. Doctors sometimes use magnesium during treatment for congestive heart failure (CHF) to reduce the risk of arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm.

According to a 2019 meta-analysisTrusted Source, increasing magnesium intake may lower a person’s risk of stroke. They report that for each 100 mg per day increase in magnesium, the risk of stroke reduced by 2%.

Some research also suggests that magnesium plays a role in hypertension. However, according to the Office of Dietary SupplementsTrusted Source (ODS), based on current research, taking magnesium supplements lowers blood pressure “to only a small extent.”

The ODS call for a “large, well-designed” investigation to understand the role of magnesium in heart health and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

4. Migraine headaches

Magnesium therapy may helpTrusted Source prevent or relieve headaches. This is because a magnesium deficiency can affect neurotransmitters and restrict blood vessel constriction, which are factors doctors link to migraine.

People who experience migraines may have lower levels of magnesium in their blood and body tissues compared with others. Magnesium levels in a person’s brain may be low during a migraine.

A systematic review from 2017Trusted Source states that magnesium therapy may be useful for preventing migraine. The authors suggest that taking 600 mg of magnesium citrate appears to be a safe and effective prevention strategy.

The American Migraine Foundation report that people frequently use doses of 400–500 mg per day for migraine prevention.

The amounts that may have an affect are likely to be high, and people should only use this therapy under the guidance of their doctor.

5. Premenstrual syndrome

Magnesium may also play a role in premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Small-scale studies, including a 2012 articleTrusted Source, suggest that taking magnesium supplements along with vitamin B-6 can improve PMS symptoms. However, a more recent 2019 reviewTrusted Source reports that the research is mixed, and further studies are needed.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that taking magnesium supplements could help to reduce bloating, mood symptoms, and breast tenderness in PMS.

6. Anxiety

Magnesium levels may play a role in mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.

According to a systematic review from 2017Trusted Source, low magnesium levels may have links with higher levels of anxiety. This is partly due to activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is a set of three glands that control a person’s reaction to stress.

However, the review points out that the quality of evidence is poor, and that researchers need to do high quality studies to find out how well magnesium supplements might work for reducing anxiety.

Magnesium Citrate Benefits (Including for Constipation)

Magnesium citrate benefits - Dr. Axe

Magnesium is the fourth most-abundant mineral in the body, and it’s mostly stored inside our bones. Because our bodies can’t make magnesium, we must get this mineral from our diets or supplements. Magnesium supplements are available in a variety of forms, one of which is magnesium citrate.

What is magnesium citrate good for? The No. 1 reason to use any magnesium supplement is to help maintain adequate levels of this mineral in order to prevent deficiency. Believe it or not, some research shows that nearly two-thirds of the population in the western world does not achieve the recommended daily allowance for magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency is believed to be one of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies that affects adults, for reasons including poor soil quality, issues with absorption, and a lack of fruits or vegetables in people’s diets. Not only can magnesium citrate help defend against deficiency symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches and trouble sleeping, but it’s also commonly used by doctors to relieve constipation. That’s not all.

What Is Magnesium Citrate?

Magnesium citrate is an over-the-counter magnesium preparation made with a combination of salt and citric acid. Magnesium citrate is sometimes described as a “saline laxative” because it effectively works to relieve constipation and clear out the intestines, thanks to its ability to increase water and fluids in the small intestine.

However, treating occasional constipation is not the only use for magnesium citrate supplements — they are also taken for nutritional support.

The main purpose of using magnesium citrate and other forms of magnesium is to maintain healthy levels, since magnesium deficiency can contribute to a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. These include trouble sleeping, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches or spams.

Health Benefits (Including for Constipation)

1. Can Help Treat Constipation and Clear Out the Intestines

Does magnesium citrate make you poop? Yes, it usually results in a bowel movement within 30 minutes to eight hours, depending on the type you take and the dosage. Lower doses are recommended for daily use to help with regularity, in addition to sticking with other healthy diet and lifestyle habits.

Higher doses are used only once or for several days if being used for medical reasons, such as for a colonoscopy. If a high dose is taken you can expect to have a bowel movement within about three hours.

Magnesium citrate pulls water into the intestines due to its chemical structure. Magnesium and citric acid have oppositely charged atoms, which causes an osmotic effect to take place in your digestive tract when you consume them together. This means that water enters the intestines and becomes absorbed by the stools. This helps lubricate the GI tract and soften stools, making it easier to pass a bowel movement.

2. Can Help Prevent Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

Taking magnesium citrate is one way to increase magnesium levels, especially since it has higher bioavailability than some other types of magnesium supplements.

Preventing magnesium deficiency is important because magnesium is needed for hundreds of different bodily functions, plus for warding off common symptoms like anxiety, trouble sleeping, aches, spasms, headaches and blood pressure changes.

3. Can Help Support Muscle and Nerve Functions

Because magnesium is an electrolyte that is particularly important for the muscles and nerve cells, using magnesium citrate may provide benefits like enhancing relaxation, increasing sleep quality and helping with stress relief. It also can help fight muscle spasms, aches and pains since magnesium helps contracted muscles relax.

That said, other forms of magnesium tend to be more popular for these effects, including magnesium glycinate, magnesium sulfate or magnesium chloride oil.

4. May Help Protect Against Kidney Stones

High calcium levels in the urine can contribute to kidney stones. In fact, it’s estimated that high urinary calcium is the cause of kidney stones in upward of 80 percent of cases.

Calcium and magnesium work together to balance each other out, and magnesium may be able to decrease accumulation of calcium, thereby supporting good kidney health. While magnesium citrate is useful for this prevention of kidney issues, magnesium oxide may work even better for this purpose. (It’s frequently recommended at doses of approximately 400 milligrams per day.)

5. Beneficial for Cardiovascular and Bone Health

Magnesium is an essential mineral for maintaining bone density, normal cardiac rhythmicity, pulmonary function and healthy blood glucose levels. Having adequate levels is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and heartbeat rhythms, protecting against issues like hypertension and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

Magnesium citrate is commonly used to prevent irregular heartbeats. In addition, it works to make artery walls more flexible — stiff artery walls are an atherosclerosis risk and can contribute to cardiovascular issues.

In addition, magnesium citrate contributes to bone creation, as it works to regulate the transport of calcium across cell membranes. Our bones possess roughly 60 percent of the body’s magnesium.


Other names for magnesium citrate can include Citrate of Magnesia or the brand name Citroma.

The absorption rate and bioavailability of magnesium supplements differs depending on the kind you use. Research shows that usually types that dissolve in liquid are better absorbed in the gut than less soluble forms. Some research suggests that magnesium citrate, chelate and chloride forms are typically absorbed better than magnesium supplements in oxide and magnesium sulfate forms.

Here’s a bit about the different types of magnesium citrate supplements that are available:

  • Magnesium citrate powder — This is a popular form of magnesium that is stirred into water or another fluid and taken for nutritional support. The powder is combined with water. This causes the two to bind together, creating “ionic magnesium citrate,” which is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Magnesium citrate liquid — This form is the type usually taken for its laxative effects. A liquid magnesium citrate product usually has a magnesium content of about 290 mg per 1 fl oz (30 mL) serving. Other ingredients might also be added to enhance the taste and effects, such as potassium, lemon oil, polyethylene glycol, sodium and sugar/sucrose. Because liquid products are usually used as saline laxatives, they are typically taken about two or more hours before or after other drugs.
  • Magnesium citrate capsules — Capsules are a convenient way to take magnesium citrate. They are usually taken just like powder forms, with at least a glass of water.


The magnesium dosage that is right for you is based on factors like your medical condition, age, any symptoms you’re experiencing and how sensitive to this product you are. It’s important to always read the directions on the label of the product you use, since each product works a bit differently.

Below are general recommendations for magnesium citrate dosages:

  • If you’re taking magnesium citrate as a nutritional supplement, a general recommendation for adults is to take between 200 and 400 milligrams per day orally in a single daily dose, or in divided doses, with a full glass of water.
  • If you’re taking magnesium citrate for the purpose of constipation relief or bowel evacuation, the standard dose is 195–300 mL of liquid magnesium in a single daily dose or in divided doses with full glass of water, or two to four tablets before bedtime.
  • Adult men should generally stick with the recommended daily allowance of 400 to 420 mg/day, while adult women should stick with 310 to 320 mg/day. However, sometimes a patient may take higher doses, up to 900 milligrams daily, if working with a health care provider.
  • In liquid form, the standard dosage recommendation is 290 mg/5ml daily, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • In tablet form, the the standard dosage recommendation is 100 mg/day, which might be taken in two to three divided doses.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women need about 320 to 350 mg/day.
  • Children should take between 60 to 195 milligrams per day, depending on their age (it’s best to check with your pediatrician first).

Here are tips for taking magnesium citrate:

  • If using a magnesium citrate powder, start with a low dose, about half a teaspoon daily or 200 milligrams or less, and increase as needed to the full or recommended amount as stated on the product label.
  • Take this product with a full glass of water (at least eight ounces), since it works by pulling water into the intestines.
  • Magnesium can usually be taken with or without food. However, depending on the reason you’re taking magnesium citrate, your doctor might tell you to take it on an empty stomach, at least one hour before or two hours after a meal.
  • Magnesium can be taken at any time of day. Trying picking a time of day to take magnesium and stick with it, since daily use of a moderate dosage may have the best effects.
  • Many people find the taste of magnesium citrate to be unpleasant, so if you’d like to improve the taste, try chilling the mixture first or mixing it with a small amount of juice. Just don’t freeze magnesium citrate. This can change how it works.
  • Some magnesium citrate products work by dissolving in water first, which usually works fastest when you use warm water, although cold water will work too (effects will just take slightly longer to kick in).
  • Don’t forget to also aim to get magnesium naturally from a nutrient-dense diet full of anti-inflammatory plant foods.

Common Questions

How long does it take for magnesium citrate to kick in?

If you’re taking magnesium citrate for constipation or prior to bowel procedure, it should have an effect within about six to eight hours and sometimes in as little as 30 minutes.

If you’re taking a low dose daily, such as before bed, it may kick in within 30 minutes but not encourage a bowel movement until the next morning. The length of time it takes to kick in depends on how much you take and how sensitive you are.

Is magnesium citrate safe to take daily?

Yes, as long as you take a low to moderate amount and not a high dose that causes loose stools repeatedly.

Ideally you want to maintain healthy digestion and normal bowel function by drinking plenty of water and fluids and by eating a diet that includes enough fiber and foods high in magnesium — such as dark leafy greens, beans, avocado and bananas. Exercising, sleeping enough, managing stress, and avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol are also important for staying “regular” and reducing reliance on laxatives.

Is magnesium citrate not working for you?

You may need to increase the dosage you’re taking or try splitting the dose in two parts. If you’re looking for other benefits besides constipation relief, consider trying another form of magnesium or getting your doctor’s advice.

Risks, Side Effects and Interactions

Magnesium citrate may have a laxative effect in some cases when taken in high doses but is otherwise considered safe for most people.

That said, it’s possible for magnesium citrate side effects to occur, especially if you take a high dose for an extended period of time. Magnesium citrate side effects may include:

  • Dehydration symptoms/loss of too much body water
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain, gas and nausea
  • Decreased weight
  • Weakness
  • Rarely, serious side effects like slow/irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes, persistent diarrhea, severe/persistent stomach/abdominal pain, bloody stools, rectal bleeding, decreased urination and allergic reactions

You don’t want to use magnesium citrate too often because this can wind up causing “dependence” on the product and loss of normal bowel function (same story with senna). People who abuse laxatives, including magnesium citrate, may not be able to have normal bowel movement without using the product after some time.

You also shouldn’t take magnesium citrate or other laxatives if you’re taking antibiotics, especially tetracycline/quinolone. If you need to take both, take them at least two hours apart. If you have any of the following medical conditions, talk to your doctor before you start taking magnesium citrate: kidney disease, GI issues that last longer than two weeks, frequent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, or if you’ve been told to follow a low-magnesium or low-potassium diet.

When it comes to using magnesium supplements during pregnancy or giving magnesium to your child, it’s recommended that you check with your doctor first, although both are usually safe and can be beneficial.

Final Thoughts

  • Magnesium citrate is an over-the-counter magnesium supplement made with a combination of salt and citric acid. It is sometimes described as a “saline laxative” because it effectively works to relieve constipation and clear out the intestines. It does this by drawing water and fluids into the intestines, which lubricates stools.
  • Other magnesium citrate benefits include helping increase magnesium levels and prevent deficiency and supporting bone, nerve, muscle and heart health.
  • If you take a high dosage of magnesium citrate you might experience side effects, including diarrhea/loose stools. Other magnesium citrate side effects can include dehydration, weakness, abdominal pains and weight loss.
  • Always follow magnesium citrate dosage recommendations carefully, since each type of product (powder, liquid and pills) works a bit differently.

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