Magnesium - A Natural Solution for Constipation
By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
Having one to three bowel movements daily is normal. It is partly due to the lack of fiber and not enough water in our diets that makes us so sluggish. Some consider a bowel movement every three to four days normal, however, the longer undigested or discarded food matter remains in the large intestine, the more it putrefies and creates harmful wastes that can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. These toxins and poisons can circulate in the bloodstream, affect the liver, and cause dozens of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, itchy skin, insomnia, irritability, and joint stiffness. Some of these poisons are even carcinogenic.
The causes of constipation include sensitivity to certain foods such as dairy. If you drink milk and eat cheese, avoid them for a few weeks and see what happens. Medications including antidepressants, codeine, certain calcium supplements, and aluminum antacids are constipating.
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, DN-C, RH says, "Proper moisture in the stool is vital. Roughly 7 quarts of fluid is dumped into the large intestine every day which includes digestive secretions and any liquids that we consume. Our large intestine must reabsorb the proper amount so the stool moisture is just right. If the stool is dry - ouch! Magnesium helps draw moisture into the bowel and soften the stool. Most people do well with up to about 1,200 of magnesium per day."
In a study1 published in the May, 2007 issue of the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition," researchers studied the effect of water, dietary fiber and magnesium intake on constipation in 3,835 Japanese students aged between 18 and 20 years old. The study found that low intakes of water and magnesium are independently associated with an increasing preponderance of constipation among a population whose dietary fiber intake is relatively low. In an earlier study2 published in a June, 1996 issue of "Magnesium Research," researchers explain that magnesium has the effect of pulling water from other tissue into the small intestines. This increase of water stimulates the muscular movement of the intestines called "peristalsis", which helps with bowel elimination and also pushes food into your stomach.
Magnesium puts two different mechanisms into play:
- Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the intestines---this helps to establish a smoother rhythm that helps eliminate constipation.
- Magnesium also attracts water---this increased amount of water in the colon serves to soften the stool, helping to make stools easier to pass and thus removing constipation.
Since your intestines will be absorbing this excess water from your body it is very important to drink plenty of water after taking Magnesium. This will keep you from becoming dehydrated.
Children and Constipation
Constipation can occur from poor bowel habits learned at an early age – young children preoccupied with play who fail to go to the bathroom when they have the urge, or are embarrassed or afraid to ask the teacher to be allowed to leave the room.
Over time, the bowel message to evacuate is lost and the feces build up and need greater stimulation before evacuation occurs. Parents should encourage regular bowel habits, otherwise constipation can become more serious and chronic.
Magnesium: If you take calcium supplements, always take calcium with equal amounts of magnesium or even a 2 parts magnesium to 1 part calcium, and drink lots of water. Magnesium citrate powder is one highly absorbable form of magnesium whereas magnesium oxide according to studies is only approximately 4% absorbed by the body.
Probiotics: Choose a source that contains 2-10 billion live organisms per dose guaranteed to the expiration date and is refrigerated at all times. Probiotics supply the intestines with good bacteria that help digest and absorb food, and give bulk to the stool improving transit time. They also keep yeast and unfriendly bacteria under control.
Vitamin C: Choose a whole-food organic vitamin C (not common ascorbic acid only). Dosage: 1,000 mg, three to four times daily. In high doses, vitamin C may have laxative effect.
1. "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition," Association Between Dietary Fiber, Water and Magnesium Intake and Functional Constipation Among Young Japanese Women: Murakami K, et al: May 2007
2. "Magnesium Research": The Osmotic and Intrinsic Mechanisms of the Pharmacological Laxative Action of Oral High Doses of Magnesium Sulphate. Importance of the Release of Digestive Polypeptides and Nitric Oxide. Izzo AA, et al: June 1996
The ideas, procedures and suggestions contained in this article are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your physical health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss, injury or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this article. The opinions expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and not the publisher.
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