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Magnesium: A Nourishing Alternative to Popular Laxatives

Magnesium: A Nourishing Alternative to Popular Laxatives

By Andrea Bartels CNP NNCP RNT
Registered Nutritional Therapist

09 May 2018

Magnesium: A Nourishing Alternative to Popular Laxatives

Chronically constipated individuals have been led to believe that their only choice in prevention and relief is a fibre supplement---one that can potentially lead to more trouble if an inadequate volume of water is consumed.  Alternatively, the use of inferior magnesium products as laxatives can lead to sudden and urgent bathroom trips that interrupt your work day.   There’s a better way.

Constipation is the infrequent or incomplete evacuation of stool, “infrequent” meaning less than once per day.   You feel bloated, heavy, lethargic, irritable and plugged up. Straining to have a bowel movement with the result being rabbit pellets, a hard, dark sinker, or often, nothing to show for your efforts--- is no one’s idea of time well spent!

Not only is constipation discomforting---it can also contribute to weight gain, lack of appetite, GERD, high cholesterol, general malaise,  hemorrhoids and loss of productivity, to name a few.

From my observations in clients within my nutritional consulting practice, the biggest contributors to constipation are:

  • Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Low fluid intake
  • Medications like morphine and codeine
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Suppressing ‘the urge’
  • Stress
  • Use of antacids and acid-reducing drugs
  • Low dietary magnesium intake

Magnesium: the Nutritious Antidote for Constipation

Diagram of Intestines with a checkmark

Magnesium is an essential mineral critical for our muscle and nerve functions. Whereas calcium contracts, magnesium relaxes.  Regardless of which of the above factors is contributing to your constipation, a highly absorbable form of this mineral can be a very effective way to get a tight bowel to relax and re-establish your regularity.

Will I have diarrhea?

The type of magnesium matters.  Magnesium compounds like magnesium sulfate and magnesium carbonate are infamous for their discomforting effects because they are so poorly absorbed.  This results in the evacuation of watery stool: diarrhea.   By contrast, magnesium glycinate makes use of Nature’s smallest amino acid—glycine—resulting in more magnesium being absorbed into the bloodstream to benefit the neuromuscular system and regulate bowel function.

Don’t trade one bowel problem for another.  The best way to ensure a healthy bowel movement with magnesium is to take it in divided doses, not all at once. This way, the body will absorb it in small doses and the effects are obtained via regulation of the muscle tone responsible for moving the bowels rather than the osmotic effect (i.e. water-pulling) that a high dose of magnesium may have.  Using magnesium glycinate powder allows for more rapid absorption and flexibility of dosing for those who have experienced a laxative effect with other constipation antidotes.

Why supplement?

Could you eat a cup of cooked spinach, a cup of black beans AND four ounces of nuts in a day, every day? It’s a challenge to get one’s RDI of magnesium from the diet, thanks to hectic lifestyles that result in consumption of processed foods devoid of this mineral. Supplementation takes the guesswork and fastidious planning out of your busy day.

You’ll love these side effects

Magnesium is used for thousands of chemical reactions inside the body, so no wonder its “side effects” are actually considered health benefits! The mineral functions to support healthy blood pressure levels, blood sugar regulation, mood and pain management, to name a few.

Don’t trade one symptom for another.  Magnesium glycinate supports bowel regularity from the inside out by nourishing the body systems that influence bowel function most.


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