Occasional constipation can be really uncomfortable

Does Magnesium Citrate Help with Occasional Constipation?

Few things are more frustrating than an unproductive bathroom break. Bowel movements should come when we want them to, but that's not always the case. Occasional constipation happens to the best of us, and it can really weigh you down (figuratively, and sometimes literally).

Why does occasional constipation happen? Can magnesium citrate or other supplements help you maintain healthy bowel movements?

Let's get into it!

While it's not exactly something anyone looks forward to, occasional constipation is normal since our bathroom visits are heavily determined by what we eat. If something throws off your normal diet, you might experience occasional constipation, which can mean harder stools or going to the restroom less frequently than is typical for you.

To address this issue, first step is usually to look at what you've been eating! Foods like dairy, high-fat meats, sweets and processed foods are not going to be as beneficial for maintaining healthy bowel patterns than, say, oatmeal and fruit. Dietary fiber is what keeps things moving, and when you don't get enough of it, well, your body has a clever way of reminding you that fresh produce and whole grains are your friends.

Not drinking enough water can be a culprit, too. Other causes include lack of physical activity and, for some people, stressful events like travel. Whatever it is that's making bowel movements a challenge, you're probably eager to get back to your usual bathroom routine!

Fortunately, in many cases, changing up your diet and adding some physical movement will result in the relief you are seeking—but what if it doesn't? That's when you might start looking for supplements that can help support healthy bowel movements.

Does magnesium help with bowel movements?

If regular bowel movements just aren't happening, perhaps you've heard you need more magnesium. So, is this true? The answer is, like many things in life, "it depends." But let's back up for a moment—and then get into which types of magnesium help when you are, indeed, all backed up!

Because not all of them do.

Magnesium is a mineral that's abundant in the body, and you can also get it from the food that you eat, like almonds and spinach. However, many Americans still aren't getting enough from their diets, which is why magnesium supplements are so helpful. Magnesium plays a role in your body in many important ways. For instance, it helps with your muscle and nerve function, as well as supporting already-healthy blood glucose and blood pressure.

But "magnesium" is kind of an umbrella term—there are actually multiple types that offer distinct benefits. L-threonate, for example, is a specific form of this mineral that supports brain health and memory…but probably won't do much unless you need help remembering that you'd really like to go to the bathroom!

Other important types of magnesium found in supplements include magnesium citrate, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium oxide, magnesium glycinate, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium sulfate, and magnesium chloride.

Forms of magnesium that help with occasional constipation

There are a few ways to tackle occasional constipation with help from digestive supplements. Magnesium carbonate combined with vitamin C and other nutrients is a great combo for occasional constipation. You can buy it as an effervescent, easy-to-mix powder that goes right into your favorite beverage.

The form of magnesium most well-known for its ability to make those bathroom visits more productive, however, is magnesium citrate.

How does magnesium citrate help with bowel movements?

Magnesium citrate helps maintain normal bowel movements by helping your bowels relax and bringing more water into your intestine.

Pro tip: Not all magnesium citrate supplements are intended to help with occasional constipation. For example, Life Extension's Magnesium (Citrate), which contains 100 mg of magnesium citrate (a much lower dose than in magnesium citrate formulas for bowel regularity), promotes bone and heart health, normal muscle and nerve function and immune health. It is not labeled to support occasional constipation—which is good, because people seek magnesium for overall health.

While magnesium citrate is a way to alleviate occasional constipation and support healthy bowel movements, if it seems like this situation is happening with increased frequency, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your digestive health.

Magnesium citrate for occasional constipation: How to take it

With magnesium citrate or any other product, always carefully follow the dosage directions on the nutrition label of your supplement, unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare provider. Never take more than advised—too much of a good thing is not a good thing! Drink a full glass of water. Make sure you're getting enough electrolytes in your diet, too.

As for how often—well, if you're dealing with occasional constipation, then you should only take magnesium citrate…occasionally! To keep your system moving and grooving, look into other digestive health supplements. A proactive approach, instead, is a probiotic specifically designed to promote daily bowel regularity. Also, don't rule out fiber!

Want more regular bowel movements? Try these lifestyle hacks!

If you want to stay "regular," then you have to behave in a "regular" kind of way—that means consistent healthy lifestyle practices such as these:

  • Regular exercise:

    Clinical trials have shown that exercise can help maintain healthy bowel movements and may be an effective approach to help with occasional constipation.
  • Fine-tune your diet:

    You'll probably find that increasing your fiber intake can help you stay regular. Try munching on beans, broccoli, and avocados.
  • Meals like clockwork:

    Try to stay consistent with your schedule—eat regular meals/snacks including high-fiber foods, move your body every day, try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, and have designated bathroom breaks.
  • Manage everyday stress:

    If you ever needed proof that there's a mind-body connection, dealing with occasional constipation when you're also dealing with looming work deadlines, a missed airplane connection or a blow-up with your best friend is proof. Do your best to maintain healthy levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) to minimize bowel irregularities.

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Other health benefits of magnesium

Relieving occasional constipation isn't the only thing that magnesium citrate supplements are good for! Here are some other benefits of magnesium supplements.

1. Magnesium citrate may maintain healthy muscle and nerve function

Magnesium plays a part in how sensitive your body is in response to possible sources of discomfort. Magnesium could help with muscle discomfort, too, especially at night!

2. Magnesium supplements can support your heart health

What does magnesium have to do with your cardiovascular health? Well, evidence suggests that higher levels of magnesium are associated with heart health support. More specifically, it can maintain already-healthy blood pressure, the correct thickness of the heart muscle, a healthy and regular heartbeat, and strong arteries.

3. They can support your immune system

Science has also found that magnesium supplements help your immune system do its job. Furthermore, magnesium activates vitamin D in the body, and vitamin D further supports your immune health.

More specifically, research has found a relationship between magnesium levels and T cells. T cells have a number of duties, including attacking cells that challenge your immune system.

4. Magnesium citrate makes for strong, healthy bones

Magnesium supplements may help people with low magnesium levels and maintain a healthy bone mineral density, which is important for keeping your skeleton strong and stable.

Pro tip: If you're looking for a magnesium citrate supplement that offers these benefits, choose one with excellent bioavailability—combining magnesium oxide and citrate in a formula optimized for both immediate and prolonged dissolution and uptake for maximum benefits.

Improve your bowel health with magnesium

If your bowel habits need some help and you're not eating a magnesium-rich diet, then the right dietary supplement can help. Mind your gut health, get enough fiber, move your body, and stay hydrated.

Psst! Not sure which supplements you need to support your digestive health? Take our quiz and find out.

About the Author: Megan Grant has a degree in communications from University of Michigan. She has been writing professionally for 15 years, with a focus on nutrition, fitness, and general health. A lifelong competitive athlete, she's fascinated by how the human body responds to food and movement.