Magnesium And Your Bowels

Recently I did an article on


and I asked the question, “Could you have a magnesium deficiency?” We have to have it in our diets!

There’s one little thing you should know before you run out and start taking high doses of

magnesium supplements…

They can have an unpleasant side effect.

Magnesium oxide

can help cure constipation, but, it can also work a little too well and cause loose, watery stools, or even diarrhea.

Magnesium is an essential mineral and is associated with over 300 different chemical reactions that occur in your body.

It aids in energy production, it helps synthesize the building blocks of your genetic code and enables your heart to contract. But, magnesium is more commonly known as a stool softener; you’ve probably heard of “Milk of Magnesia?”

Why Should We Take Magnesium?

It has what’s called an “essential mineral” status meaning that you can’t survive without getting enough dietary magnesium regularly.

Essential minerals are those that your body is unable to produce and must get through dietary means. (Food or supplements)

Magnesium oxide can be used for digestive conditions like heartburn, sour stomach or acid indigestion, in addition to its use as a laxative.

Sometimes it’s used to facilitate bowel emptying prior to surgery.

The recommended dosage for adults is 140 mg, three or four times daily, if you are using capsules.

If you are taking tablets, the dosage is anywhere from 400 to 800 mg per day.

The only problem is, these dosages exceed the tolerable upper-intake level for magnesium established by the Institute of Medicine.

At high dosages, magnesium can cause diarrhea or loose stools.

loose stool from magnesiumElevated serum magnesium levels, or hypermagnesemia, can cause your blood pressure to fall.

Lethargy, confusion, kidney damage and heart rate abnormalities are all associated with hypotension, or abnormally low blood pressure, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can help lower high blood pressure, lower the risk of developing diabetes, decrease the symptoms of PMS, reduce migraine symptoms, and help depression and anxiety.

Magnesium can also help muscle cramps, kidney stones, osteoporosis, insomnia, fibromyalgia and asthma.

Magnesium is needed for calcium to be used by our bones. It’s needed to help keep muscles relaxed, including those of the heart and blood vessels. It’s also needed in the function of vital co-factors and enzymes.

Diuretics (water-pills) can rob the body not only of potassium, but also of magnesium.

Magnesium is depleted by cooking and processing.

Sources of magnesium are whole grains, greens, nuts, and seeds; however, the soil itself is depleted of magnesium and these foods don’t have as much magnesium as they used to have 50 years ago.

People who should not take magnesium are those with kidney failure, bowel obstruction, myasthenia gravis, or heart block.

In a situation of “magnesium deficiency,” it may take up to 6 months of oral supplementation to correct.

There are several types of oral magnesium available, including magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, magnesium malate, magnesium taurate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium oxide.

Magnesium Citrate is probably the most cost effective. (400 to 600 mg at bedtime is a good dose; or 200 to 300 mg two to three times a day). If diarrhea is a problem, cut back on the dose or switch to magnesium “glycinate or aspartate.”

Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed, and is very likely to cause diarrhea. I do not recommend magnesium oxide and I speak from experience.

oil of magnesiumIf you want maximum absorption, it’s best to use smaller divided doses throughout the day than one big dose, once a day.

If oral magnesium is giving you diarrhea and you still need more magnesium, you can try oil of magnesium, which is magnesium chloride, rubbed onto the skin. Or you can soak your feet in an Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) bath.

Type A personalities and people under stress will need more magnesium.

The best foods to eat for a good source of magnesium are:

Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach)
Nuts and Seeds (Squash and Pumpkin Seeds)
Fish (Halibut)
Beans and Lentils (Soy Beans)
Whole Grains (Brown Rice)
Low-Fat Dairy (Plain Non Fat Yogurt)
Dried Fruit (Figs)

Magnesium used as a laxative is a usually liquid “magnesium citrate.” The only difference between magnesium as a supplement and magnesium as a laxative is the dose.

Author: Steve Berchtold

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