Magnesium citrate can offer some benefits for people who suffer from occasional constipation, as it can provide fast and effective relief. It can also help replenish the magnesium levels in the body, which can improve overall health and well-being.
However, magnesium citrate also carries some risks and drawbacks, such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and kidney damage. Therefore, it is important to use magnesium citrate with caution and follow the dosage and instructions carefully.
It is also advisable to consult a doctor before taking magnesium citrate, especially if you have any medical conditions or allergies, or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any other medications or supplements.
One of the most common questions that people have about magnesium citrate is how long it takes for it to work. This is a crucial question, as it can affect the timing and planning of taking magnesium citrate, as well as the expectations and outcomes of the treatment. In this article, I will try to answer this question based on the available evidence and research.
What is the Time Frame?
I have researched and analyzed various natural and synthetic compounds that can affect the digestive system and the bowel movements. One of these compounds is magnesium citrate, which is a popular and effective laxative for occasional constipation.
However, many people who use magnesium citrate wonder how long does it take for it to work and what factors influence its onset and duration of action. In this section, I will try to answer these questions based on the scientific evidence and my personal experience.
The Average Time
The average time for magnesium citrate to work as a laxative is between 30 minutes and 6 hours. This means that most people can expect to have a bowel movement within this time frame after taking magnesium citrate. However, this is only a general range, and the actual time may vary depending on several factors, such as the dosage, the time of day, the severity of constipation, and the individual’s response.
The Dosage of Magnesium Citrate
The dosage of magnesium citrate can affect how long it takes for it to work, as higher doses may produce faster and stronger effects than lower doses. The recommended dosage of magnesium citrate for adults is 10 to 30 ml of liquid or 1 to 4 tablets of 100 mg each, taken once or twice a day.
Also, some people may need more or less magnesium citrate to achieve the desired results, depending on their body weight, age, and tolerance. Therefore, it is advisable to start with the lowest effective dose and increase it gradually if needed, until a comfortable and regular bowel movement is achieved. It is also important to follow the instructions on the label or the doctor’s prescription, and not to exceed the maximum daily dose of 60 ml of liquid or 8 tablets of 100 mg each.
The Time of Day Is Also Important
The time of day of taking magnesium citrate can also influence how long it takes for it to work, as the digestive system and the bowel movements may vary throughout the day. Generally, it is recommended to take magnesium citrate in the morning on an empty stomach, as this may help to stimulate the bowel activity and produce a faster and more effective response.
Still, some people may prefer to take magnesium citrate in the evening before going to bed, as this may allow them to have a bowel movement in the morning without disrupting their sleep or daily routine. Ultimately, the best time of day to take magnesium citrate depends on the individual’s preference and schedule, as long as it does not interfere with other medications or supplements, or cause any adverse effects.
The Severity of the Issue
The level of issue a person is facing can also affect how long it takes for magnesium citrate to work, as more severe cases of constipation may require more time and higher doses of magnesium citrate to relieve. Constipation can be classified into three types, according to the frequency and consistency of the stool:
- Mild constipation: less than three bowel movements per week, with hard and dry stool that is difficult to pass
- Moderate constipation: less than one bowel movement per week, with very hard and dry stool that causes pain and straining
- Severe constipation: no bowel movement for more than two weeks, with impacted stool that blocks the colon and requires medical intervention
People who suffer from mild constipation may find that magnesium citrate works within 30 minutes to 3 hours, while people who suffer from moderate constipation may need 3 to 6 hours for magnesium citrate to work. People who suffer from severe constipation may not respond to magnesium citrate at all, and may need other treatments, such as enemas, suppositories, or surgery, to remove the impacted stool.
The Individual’s Response
Finally, the individual’s response to magnesium citrate can also determine how long it takes for it to work, as different people may have different sensitivities and reactions to magnesium citrate. There is a chance to experience a faster and more intense effect of magnesium citrate, while others may experience a slower and milder effect.
Some people may also experience side effects, such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, diarrhea, cramps, and nausea, while others may not. These differences may depend on the individual’s genetics, metabolism, health status, diet and lifestyle. Therefore, it is important to monitor the individual’s response to magnesium citrate and adjust the dosage and frequency accordingly, to achieve the optimal balance between effectiveness and safety.
How to Use it Properly?
The dosage and instructions for taking this product as a laxative vary depending on the age and the form of the product. For adults and children over 12 years old, the usual dose is 10 ounces (296 mL) of liquid or 2 to 4 tablets of 100 mg each, taken once or twice a day with a full glass of water. For children 6 to 12 years old, the usual dose is 5 ounces (148 mL) of liquid or 1 to 2 tablets of 100 mg each, taken once or twice a day with a full glass of water.
For children under 6 years old, consult a doctor before using this product. The time it takes for this product to work as a laxative depends on several factors, such as the severity of constipation, the time of day, and the individual’s response. Generally, the more severe the constipation, the longer it takes for this product to work.
The crucial part is to always consult with an expert, and never choose the dosage on your own. According to Jon Johnson from MedicalNewsToday:
“People with a medical condition should talk with their doctor before using magnesium citrate to make sure it is safe to use. Magnesium is safe to use for minor or occasional cases of constipation. It is not for long-term use. Anyone experiencing chronic, long-lasting episodes of constipation should avoid magnesium citrate.”
The time of day also matters, as taking this product in the morning on an empty stomach may produce a faster and more effective response than taking it in the evening before going to bed. The individual’s response may vary depending on their genetics, metabolism, health status, diet, and lifestyle.
Therefore, it is important to monitor the individual’s response and adjust the dosage and frequency accordingly, to achieve the optimal balance between effectiveness and safety. The general range of how long it takes for this product to work as a laxative is between 30 minutes and 6 hours. This means that most people can expect to have a bowel movement within this time frame after taking this product.
|Age group||Dosage||Instructions||Time range|
|Adults and children over 12 years old||10 ounces (296 mL) of liquid or 2 to 4 tablets of 100 mg each||Once or twice a day with a full glass of water||30 minutes to 6 hours|
|Children 6 to 12 years old||5 ounces (148 mL) of liquid or 1 to 2 tablets of 100 mg each||Once or twice a day with a full glass of water||30 minutes to 6 hours|
|Children under 6 years old||Consult a doctor||Consult a doctor||Consult a doctor|
Are There Any Side-Effects?
Taking this product as a laxative can have some side effects and complications, depending on the dose, frequency, and duration of use. Some of the possible side effects are:
- Dehydration: This occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in. This can cause symptoms such as dry mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. Dehydration can also affect the blood pressure, heart rate, and kidney function.
- Electrolyte imbalance: This occurs when the levels of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium in the body are too high or too low. This can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, weakness, twitching, irregular heartbeat, confusion, and seizures. Electrolyte imbalance can also affect the nerve and muscle function, and the acid-base balance in the body.
- Diarrhea: This occurs when the stool is too watery and frequent. This can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gas, and nausea. Diarrhea can also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, as well as malabsorption of nutrients and medications.
- Cramps: This occurs when the muscles in the abdomen or the intestines contract involuntarily and painfully. This can cause symptoms such as sharp or dull pain, spasms, and discomfort. Cramps can also interfere with the normal bowel movements and the digestion of food.
- Nausea: This occurs when the stomach feels upset and the urge to vomit is present. This can cause symptoms such as loss of appetite, sweating, salivation, and drowsiness. Nausea can also affect the intake of fluids and foods, and the absorption of medications.
To prevent or minimize these side effects and complications, it is important to follow these tips:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated and replenish the water lost through the stool. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day, or more if you have diarrhea or sweat a lot.
- Avoid taking other medications or supplements at the same time as this product, as they may interact or reduce its effectiveness. Wait at least 2 hours before or after taking this product to take any other medications or supplements, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
- Consult a doctor if you experience severe or persistent symptoms, such as fever, blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, fainting, or signs of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. These may indicate a more serious condition or a complication that requires medical attention.
In case that you are using it too often or for too long, it could also lead to some risks, such as:
- Dependency: This occurs when the body becomes used to the laxative effect of this product and cannot have a normal bowel movement without it. This can cause the bowel muscles to become weak and lazy, and the stool to become harder and drier. Dependency can also make the constipation worse and harder to treat.
- Tolerance: This occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the laxative effect of this product and needs higher doses or more frequent use to achieve the same results. This can cause the side effects and complications to become more severe and frequent, and the bowel function to deteriorate further.
- Kidney damage: This occurs when the high levels of magnesium in the blood affect the kidney function and cause damage to the kidney cells. This can cause symptoms such as reduced urine output, swelling, fatigue, nausea, and itching. Kidney damage can also lead to kidney failure, which is a life-threatening condition that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
To avoid these risks, it is important to use this product only as directed and for a short period of time, usually no longer than 1 week. Do not increase the dose or frequency of use without consulting a doctor.
Do not use this product if you have kidney problems or a history of kidney stones, as this may worsen your condition. If you need to use this product for longer than 1 week, consult a doctor to find out the underlying cause of your constipation and the best treatment option for you.
What Are the Alternatives?
While this product can be effective for occasional constipation, it may not be the best option for everyone or for every situation. There are some natural and lifestyle remedies that can help prevent and treat constipation, such as:
- Increase fiber intake: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It helps to soften and bulk up the stool, making it easier to pass. Fiber also helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can improve the digestion and the bowel health. The recommended daily intake of fiber for adults is 25 to 30 grams, which can be obtained from foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fiber supplements, such as psyllium, methylcellulose, or glucomannan, can also be used to increase the fiber intake, but they should be taken with plenty of water to prevent choking or obstruction.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to stimulate the bowel muscles and the blood circulation, which can improve the bowel movements and the digestion. Exercise also helps to reduce stress, which can affect the bowel function and the mood. The recommended amount of exercise for adults is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, or a combination of both. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include running, jumping, skipping, or aerobics.
- Managing stress: Stress can have a negative impact on the bowel function and the digestion, as it can cause the bowel muscles to tighten or spasm, and the digestive juices to decrease. Stress can also affect the appetite, the eating habits, and the mood, which can contribute to constipation. To manage stress, it is important to identify the sources of stress and find healthy ways to cope with them, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, hobbies, or social support. Seeking professional help, such as counseling or therapy, may also be helpful for some people.
There are also some other types of laxatives that may be more suitable for different causes or types of constipation, such as:
- Bulk-forming laxatives: These are similar to fiber supplements, as they absorb water in the bowel and swell to bulk out the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. They are suitable for mild to moderate constipation, especially if the stool is hard and dry. They take 2 to 3 days to work, and they should be taken with plenty of water to prevent obstruction. Examples of bulk-forming laxatives include psyllium, methylcellulose, and polycarbophil.
- Stimulant laxatives: These stimulate the bowel muscles to contract and push the stool out of the body. They are suitable for moderate to severe constipation, especially if the stool is soft but difficult to pass. They take 6 to 12 hours to work, and they should be used sparingly and for a short period of time, as they can cause dependency, tolerance, and cramps. Examples of stimulant laxatives include senna, bisacodyl, and sodium picosulfate.
- Stool softener laxatives: These moisten and lubricate the stool, making it easier to pass. They are suitable for mild constipation, especially if the stool is hard and dry, or if straining to pass stool is painful or undesirable, such as after surgery or childbirth. They take 1 to 3 days to work, and they should be used with caution if you have heart or kidney problems, as they can affect the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Examples of stool softener laxatives include docusate and arachis oil.
While laxatives can be helpful for occasional constipation, they are not a long-term solution, and they may not address the underlying cause of the problem. Therefore, it is important to find out what is causing your constipation and treat it accordingly, rather than relying on laxatives alone. Some of the possible causes of constipation include:
- Low-fiber diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Medications, such as opioids, antacids, antidepressants, or iron supplements
- Medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, or Parkinson’s disease
- Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety and depression
If you have chronic or recurrent constipation, or if you have other symptoms, such as blood in the stool, weight loss, fever, or abdominal pain, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
A doctor may perform some tests, such as blood tests, stool tests, or colonoscopy, to rule out any serious conditions, such as bowel obstruction, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. A doctor may also prescribe some medications, such as lubiprostone, linaclotide, or prucalopride, to treat chronic constipation that does not respond to other treatments.
Can I make magnesium citrate work faster?
You may try taking it on an empty stomach, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding other medications or supplements. However, the time it takes to work varies depending on many factors, so consult a doctor if you have any concerns.
Should I drink water after taking magnesium citrate?
Yes, you should drink water after taking magnesium citrate, as this will help to push the magnesium citrate through your digestive system and prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance .
Can I take magnesium citrate daily?
No, you should not take magnesium citrate daily, as this can cause dependency, tolerance, and kidney damage. You should only use magnesium citrate for occasional constipation, and for no longer than 1 week.
Can I eat right after taking magnesium citrate?
No, you should not eat right after taking magnesium citrate, as this may reduce its effectiveness and cause stomach upset. You should wait at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking magnesium citrate to eat anything, unless your doctor tells you otherwise .
The Bottom Line
The average time for magnesium citrate to work as a laxative is between 30 minutes and 6 hours, but that this may vary depending on the dosage, the time of day, the severity of constipation, and the individual’s response.
I also have to remind you that magnesium citrate is not a long-term solution for constipation, and that it may not be suitable for everyone or for every situation.
Therefore, you should always consult a doctor before taking it, especially if you have any medical conditions or allergies, or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any other medications or supplements.