Over the 50+ years that elete (through our parent company) has helped consumers, we’ve received many inquiries around the laxative effect.  One of the most frequent questions is: Does magnesium help with constipation? Those who know the answer due to personal experience may have other questions since the number one complained-about side effect from minerals is also, strangely, one of the most sought-after benefits.  This effect warrants sufficient explanation, so consumers can understand what is taking place, why, and manage it as they desire.  This issue is such a prevalent concern that many leading experts believe that the RDA for magnesium was actually set lower than it should have been specifically to reduce this (often viewed as negative) side effect.  Learning how to manage it appropriately can make your experience in supplementing with MRIs minerals more enjoyable and allow you increased health benefits. 

Related article: Finding relief from constipation

The main culprit in the laxative effect is a property that dissolved minerals (as well as certain other water-soluble substances) give to water.  Please forgive the technical terminology and continue reading through the explanation.  This property is called osmolarity or osmolality, which are closely enough related, but for the purposes of this paper, we will use the term osmolarity. Osmolarity describes the pull that one set of fluids will have toward another. The body works to manage this property by moving substances around and regulate fluid balance. That being said, if the fluids you want to assimilate are sitting inside the gut with a higher osmolarity than the fluids on the other side of the digestive lining, you can wind up with fluids flowing the wrong direction back into the gut and whooshing through the body, even causing diarrhea. When this effect is extreme, it is often accompanied by stomach cramps. This is how magnesium helps with constipation.

Related article: Magnesium – The forgotten mineral

Please keep in mind that while this is a sought-after benefit for many people and has been harnessed in the traditional seawater cleanse, the laxative effect means that fluids and nutrients are flowing out of your body rather than being absorbed.  If it is mild, moderately lubricating the bowels, it is likely that both laxative and absorption are happening simultaneously – that’s a great health benefit.  

The higher the stores of nutrients in the body the higher the osmolarity will be for the body fluids, making that person more tolerant of a higher osmolarity of fluids being consumed.  This is why many people find that they need to start out with a lower dose of MRIs minerals and then are able to consume higher levels of minerals over time.  Also, please keep in mind that dissolved sugars and even vitamins can increase osmolarity in a beverage, meaning better balance if your supplement of magnesium is helping with constipation. 

Very often, the most absorbable form of minerals will have the largest impact on osmolarity.  A mineral that is water-soluble will impact osmolarity far more than a mineral that isnt water-soluble and needs to be digested before it becomes water-soluble and affects osmolarity.  Research has shown for some time that the larger the dose of magnesium, for example, the smaller the percentage will be absorbed.  This will be partly  due to the available number of active receptor sites available to lock onto a mineral and draw it in and partly due to osmolarity. 

Related article: Magnesium for asthma and lung health

The new phenomenon of trying to take a pill with 100 percent of the bodys daily nutrient requirements is fairly new and doesnt work that well with the body.  Those nutrients that are in such a state that they do not impact osmolarity have a narrow chance of being absorbed.  Essentially, nutrients that are in a form that impacts osmolarity are likely to whoosh through the body with an outflow of fluids if they are consumed at levels sufficient to fill the bodys daily requirements in one dose.  This is especially true of the macronutrients.  

Some nutrients cause higher osmolarity than others. Calcium, found mostly in solid rather than dissolved forms in the body, has a fairly low impact on osmolarity.  Sodium is very soluble but is capable of remaining as a solid crystal when exposed to moisture in the air.  Potassium, in dry form, has a stronger pull for moisture in the air than either calcium or sodium.  Magnesium has some of the strongest pulls to moisture.  Fine magnesium salt powder will actually pull moisture from the air and re-liquefy within seconds of being exposed, another trait meaning magnesium helps with constipation. 

Related article: Minerals and immune function

Throughout eons of time, people have consumed their minerals a little here and a little there from different foods and beverages spread throughout the day.  This type of consumption, which we like to call lifestyle dosing, works very well with how the digestive system absorbs minerals.  Consuming minerals in this way can increase the total amount of minerals the body will tolerate and absorb in a day.  The minerals also tend to improve the taste of water, beverages, and foods rather than tasting nasty when consumed in other ways.  This may be one way that the body tells us what it can tolerate.  We have received feedback from world-class athletes who have consumed our minerals through lifestyle dosing at very high levels while they were in performance mode and had a high need.  Under those conditions and using lifestyle dosing, their body seemed very tolerant of the high dosage without negative effects.  These athletes didnt force their consumption, but rather listened to their bodies and consumed what they felt they needed as they needed it. 

Another interesting point that seems counterintuitive until osmolarity is understood is that you can reduce the laxative effect by taking the minerals with MORE water.  This is because the more diluted the minerals, the lower the osmolarity. So while magnesium helps with constipation, the level that it does will vary based on your hydration levels.

Related article: A fascinating look at vitality and health

Now, if you are looking for the laxative effect then consuming the minerals at a high dosage (anywhere between 200 mg of magnesium to 600 mg of magnesium from CMD) with water or juice in one drink will typically move things right through.  However, once things are moving, make sure and drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate. As natural magnesium helps with your constipation, it’s important to remember that you are ultimately in control of your health and mineral intake. With a balanced approach, your body can get the proper nutrient absorption it needs while enjoying the benefits of staying regular.

By Val John Anderson