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Is Magnesium Citrate Safe for Children?

author image Joe King, M.S.
Joe King began writing fitness and nutrition articles in 2001 for the "Journal of Hyperplasia Research" and Champion Nutrition. As a personal trainer, he has been helping clients reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. King holds a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology from California State University, Hayward, and a Master of Science in exercise physiology from California State University, East Bay.
Is Magnesium Citrate Safe for Children?
Magnesium citrate is sometimes prescribed for children with constipation. Photo Credit: kicsiicsi/iStock/Getty Images

Magnesium citrate is a form of the mineral magnesium. It is commonly used to correct a severe mineral deficiency, but is most commonly used as a constipation-relief aid. According to the American Cancer Society, magnesium citrate exerts a powerful laxative effect on your body by pulling water into your small intestine, which can stimulate a bowel movement and relieve constipation. Magnesium citrate is generally considered safe for most children, but some side effects may still occur. Talk with a health care professional before giving a child magnesium citrate to treat constipation or as a vitamin supplement.

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Allergic Reaction

Some children have an allergic reaction to magnesium citrate supplements, which may result in a medical emergency. Children with a magnesium citrate allergy should not take it under any circumstances. An allergic reaction to magnesium citrate can cause hives, itching, shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, chest tightness and fever. Sanford Health reports that you may also experience difficulty breathing, swelling of your tongue, lips and face and closing of your throat.

Gastrointestinal Distress

The most common side effects of magnesium citrate supplements for constipation involve gastrointestinal distress related to the mineral's ability to stimulate water movement throughout your digestive tract. Gastrointestinal side effects in children are normally mild and may involve nausea, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea and vomiting. You can reduce the frequency and severity of these effects when taking magnesium citrate supplements by drinking adequate amounts of water and taking the supplement within the recommended dosages.


The risk of developing side effects associated with magnesium citrate supplementation can increase under certain conditions. You should not give magnesium citrate to a child who has any of the following medical conditions: appendicitis, colostomy, diabetes, diverticulitis, ileostomy, intestinal blockage, kidney failure or ulcerative colitis. Magnesium citrate can also interact badly with certain medications, especially allergy medications, some antibiotics, and diuretics. The combination of diuretics and magnesium citrate may cause a magnesium overdose, which can have serious health effects.


Magnesium citrate is available to children for the treatment of constipation by prescription only and comes in both liquid and tablet forms. According to, the usual pediatric dose of magnesium citrate in children under 6 years old is 0.5 milliliters per kilogram up to a maximum of 200 milliliters per day. The usual dose for children 6 to 12 years old is between 100 and 150 milliliters per day taken at one time. Dosages vary, and it is important to follow your physician's recommendations when taking a magnesium citrate supplement.

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