I see a lot of people on here talking about taking magnesium citrate as a dietary supplement. Since magnesium citrate is used as a laxative, why is supplementing with it not considered the same thing as making yourself dependent on laxatives?
Because laxative dependency usually arises from the over use of stimulant laxatives. Magnesium is a stool softener not a stimulant laxative. It draws water into the bowel to make it easier to go. Stimulants cause contractions. Your brain is still in control when you use something like magnesium.
Good question. I have used magnesium citrate (the fizzy liquid in a bottle that's hard to drink) as a laxative, and boy howdy, does it work. Magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) works just as well. Both have kind of a bitter/metallic taste.
Curiously, I was Mg depleted once, and was so desperate for relief that I drank some magnesium sulfate in water, and it tasted SWEET, not bitter, and it's laxative effect seemed quite diminished (though still active). Once I was replete with Mg, it tasted bitter again. Very interesting phenomenon that suggests all kinds of things about the purposes of being able to taste things.
However, when I take magnesium citrate pills to supplement Mg missing from my diet, it doesn't seem to have the laxative effect at all. I would like to know why the two preparations with the same compound perform so differently. Perhaps it's a dose-related thing, but I can't understand how to compare the label from the liquid to a tablet.
Probably because the magnesium can be used for other things in your body. My doc recommended 10000mg of Vitamin C if I don't go every day. You could always be dependent on prunes if that makes you feel better.
Using magnesium citrate constantly as a laxative, i.e. taking excess amounts (more than you can absorb) in order to have a bowel movement, would be similar to abusing laxatives in at least on respect. Namely, it would produce some of the downsides of laxative abuse e.g. loss of nutrients because you can't digest them.
Using magnesium citrate wouldn't have some of the harmful effects of abusing laxatives though e.g. senna, as I understand it, is just slightly toxic and irritates the gut, thus producing the laxative effect and I'm assuming that irritating the gut lining is a bad thing.
I would also imagine that the laxative side-effects of magnesium don't diminish (so much) with time because, as noted in previous answers, magnesium produces its laxative effect by drawing water into the gut (rather like some fibres), rather than through a harmful or irritant effect which is contra to the bodies homeostatis and so which the body wants to become resistant to. In consequence, unlike traditional laxatives, one wouldn't need to increase the dose constantly in order to produce the same effect.
Anthraquinones like senna are the worst for laxative dependency, but I know some formulas that draw water into the colon can be habit-forming as well. Try Triphala, it's an effective laxative that actually supports peristalsis, and it also has quite the cleansing effect.
I take Naturally Calm, too, as it's not going to have that laxative effect. Plus, magnesium is the ONLY laxative (if you choose the more laxative-effective varieties) my gastro-enterologist says are safe for me. I'm Celiac with other autoimmune issues. I tend to NOT get diarrhea as some people think IBS/IBD people 'always have.' I go into bowel lockdown due to spasms, which is a bad, bad thing.
Natural Calm is a great supplement for me since it doesn't affect pooing -- therefore I keep other forms of mag for when I need them.
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