How Does Magnesium Work As a Laxative?

Constipation is an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition, and one best solved quickly. If you're looking for a solution to your personal plumbing problem, you might try magnesium, which has laxative effects. Consult your doctor to find out the precise type and dosage of magnesium supplement that is right for you.

Functions of Magnesium

Magnesium is ubiquitous throughout your body. It's in every organ and is especially important to your heart muscles and kidneys, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Magnesium is an essential mineral, meaning you must consume it regularly to keep your body functioning properly. It aids enzyme function and energy production as well.


Magnesium’s Laxative Effects

Laxatives that contain electrically-charged magnesium molecules, or ions, influence laxation by remaining in the colon and drawing water there to facilitate excretion. Virginia Commonwealth University Student Health Services states that magnesium also stimulates bowel muscles to contract, thus squeezing waste material through and aiding in defecation.

Types of Magnesium Laxative

Magnesium has a history of use as a laxative in preparations such as milk of magnesia, a mix of magnesium suspended in water. Magnesium oxide is another form of magnesium used as a laxative. It comes in tablet and capsule form. Even the magnesium found in foods may aid in preventing constipation. A 2007 study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that low water and magnesium intake were associated with increased rates of constipation in a study population consisting of 3,835 Japanese students.


Sources of Magnesium

Magnesium is widely available in a vast variety of foods. Nutritional shortfalls rarely cause serious deficiencies, but rather by failure to absorb nutrients adequately due to an underlying medical condition. Adverse reactions to large amounts of magnesium in food are rare, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Good sources of magnesium include tofu, molasses, pumpkin seeds, leafy green vegetables and cocoa powder.


Magnesium is available without a prescription, but you should consult a doctor before taking it if you are allergic to other laxatives, are on other prescription medicine, have had previous heart, kidney or intestinal disease, suffer from high blood pressure, are pregnant or are planning to be, or are breastfeeding. Side effects of magnesium can include cramping, diarrhea and allergic reactions.