Everything You Need to Know About Citrate of Magnesia

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    Magnesium citrate is a popular supplement that helps support healthy bowels. Its magnesium combined with citric acid.

    What is citrate of magnesia?

    Magnesium is a major mineral in your body and is found in more than 300 enzyme systems. It’s essential for regulating various biochemical functions in the body, as well as for bone health, heart health, and more. You can get magnesium through an array of magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds, green leafy vegetables, and peanuts. And you can also boost your magnesium intake by taking a magnesium supplement.

    Magnesium citrate is one of the most popular magnesium supplements now on the market. It’s a form of magnesium that’s bound with citric acid. Citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits.

    What may set magnesium citrate apart from other magnesium supplements is its known laxative-like properties. There’s also some research to suggest that magnesium citrate might be among the more bioavailable forms of magnesium.

    What is magnesium citrate used for?

    Magnesium citrate is especially popular for its potential use as a laxative. Indeed, physicians will often recommend this supplement as part of a colonoscopy preparation plan. One study looked at the effect of taking magnesium citrate and sodium phosphate in preparation for a colonoscopy and found that these supplements did help encourage bowel movements. Another study likewise found that magnesium citrate combined with a laxative helped clear the bowels for a colonoscopy. There are good reasons to believe that magnesium citrate helps support healthy bowel movements.

    How long does citrate of magnesia take to work?

    When taking supplements, it’s important to remember that everybody’s different. A supplement’s effectiveness often depends on the person and the dose being used.

    With that said, people taking magnesium citrate usually notice changes in bowel movements in a fairly short time – sometimes within minutes, sometimes within hours. A liquid magnesium citrate supplement may work more quickly than a capsule form.

    Milk of magnesia vs. magnesium citrate? What’s the difference?

    Milk of magnesia is magnesium hydroxide, which is commonly found in some antacids. Magnesium hydroxide and magnesium citrate are both sometimes taken for their laxative-like effects.

    Which works faster: milk of magnesia vs. magnesium citrate?

    Both milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) and magnesium citrate can work within the same timeframe, sometimes between 30 minutes and 6 hours. The speed with which they work can depend on a variety of factors, including the individual person taking the supplement, the dose, and the form of supplementation (liquid, capsules, softgels, and so on).

    However, when it comes to colonoscopy prep, studies have found milk of magnesia to be less effective overall.

    Does magnesium citrate have side effects?

    Most any supplement you take will have the potential for some side effects. While most people who take magnesium citrate don’t experience any side effects, some do report some digestive discomfort. Magnesium supplements can also interact with other medications you may be taking. It’s best to check with your doctor before changing your supplement routine.

    When should you take magnesium citrate?

    If you’re experiencing occasional constipation, magnesium citrate may be able to help this problem. Talk to your doctor about your particular situation and see if a magnesium citrate supplement might be right for you. Studies clearly show that this supplement can help with bowel movements.

    Should I use citrate of magnesia for a colonoscopy prep?

    When getting ready for a colonoscopy, always talk to your doctor about the recommended preparation. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re clearing your system properly.

    Studies have shown that magnesium citrate can help with colonoscopy preparation by helping with bowel movements. Still, people with kidney or digestive issues should use caution before adding a magnesium supplement.

    You can also strive to maintain healthy bowel movements by eating a balanced diet that includes fiber, fruits, veggies, and hydration, and by getting enough exercise and movement.

    Key takeaways

    Magnesium citrate is a form of magnesium supplement that’s commonly used to support bowel movements. It’s magnesium combined with citric acid, which is what you naturally find in citrus fruits. Some studies show that magnesium citrate can be helpful for those times when you’re preparing for a colonoscopy.

    Magnesium supplements in general boast a range of health benefits, since magnesium is a mineral that serves many functions in your body. Care/of’s magnesium – dubbed “The Dream Weaver” – can support bone health and improve sleep. It’s not magnesium citrate, but it might do the trick.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
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    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.