Magnesium citrate is used as a saline laxative in hospitals and clinics for inducing a bowel movement before a colonoscopy, surgery, or other therapeutic methods. Some physicians may use it for temporary alleviation of constipation or other colon-associated medical disorders.
Magnesium citrate was mainly designed as a laxative for medical purposes. However, its use as a method of weight loss has become very popular. It may also be noted that prolonged use of magnesium citrate for losing weight can have harmful effects on the body.
Medical uses of magnesium citrate
Magnesium citrate is manufactured using the salts of citric acid and magnesium after mixing them under certain conditions, in a particular ratio. In chemical terms, it is regarded as a hyperosmotic saline. Once within the body, it pulls in water from the tissues and cells via osmosis.Subsequently, large quantities of water collect in the intestinal tract leading to an increased urge to have a bowel movement. This is the manner in which magnesium citrate acts as a powerful laxative and helps clean out the rectum and intestines before surgical procedures can be carried out.
Magnesium citrate can be bought as an OTC medication for alleviating constipation. Patients will usually experience bowel movements, 30 minutes or three hours after consuming magnesium citrate. Intake of the tablet with very low drug-concentration may take longer to cause the desired effects.
Magnesium citrate has about 11 percent magnesium and gets easily absorbed into the body. Hence, doctors may also prescribe it as a nutritional supplement for treating any magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium citrate and weight loss: Does it really work?
Of late, the notion that magnesium citrate helps lose weight has spread like wildfire. The idea behind this is the fact that magnesium citrate increases bowel movements and thus helps in reducing weight. The drug stimulates the rate of bowel actions and thus prevents the large intestines from effectively absorbing minerals and water. This means that magnesium citrate facilitates rapid passage of food through the digestive tract before it can be absorbed.
Regular and increased use of magnesium citrate adversely affects the fat absorption activities of the body and results in diarrhea, i.e., feces with high water content. Thus, consumed food travels through the body without getting absorbed. This is what prevents any gain in weight. The purpose for which magnesium citrate was taken however remains unfulfilled. It only helps remove minerals and water, and not calories as should be the case when wanting to lose weight.
Use of magnesium citrate only results in temporary loss of weight which occurs due to severe diarrhea, and loss of water and other intestinal content. When a user resumes normal bowel and eating habits, the weight will also return to normal. This is because only nominal amount of fat was lost by the body due to magnesium citrate use. Most of the food-calories gets absorbed by the stomach and small intestine before it enters the large intestine, which is where magnesium citrate begins functioning as a laxative. It can thus be concluded that the drug is not a very effective tool to lose weight.
People who take magnesium citrate for weight loss may argue that they did lose weight after using it. However, such lost weight is not body fat, but just water content of the body. The loss of water from the body will also result in a thinner appearance of the face, making the user think that he/she has lost weight. Resumption of regular water intake will eventually result in recovery of the lost water content. The weight loss is thus temporary.
Side effects of magnesium citrate use/overuse
- People allergic to supplements and additives, or with digestive issues such as vomiting, nausea, and/or stomach pain, should not use magnesium citrate at all as it can cause severe and prolonged diarrhea.
- Magnesium citrate is eliminated from the body via renal excretion. People with kidney conditions may not be able to eliminate magnesium efficiently, thereby considerably increasing its content in the blood.
- People with anal fissures or hemorrhoids should avoid the drug as it can increase the risk to developing life-threatening rectal bleeding.
- Abuse of magnesium citrate as a laxative can result in elevated loss of fluids, minerals, and electrolytes. It can increase the risk to extreme dehydration, liver damage, and kidney failure as well as colon, anal, and stomach cancer. Decreased electrolyte and potassium content in the body can adversely affect cardiac function.
- Prolonged use of magnesium citrate for weight loss can change the manner of digestive system functioning. Users may eventually suffer from long-term severe pain and chronic constipation.
- Magnesium citrate overuse can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract which is problematic to repair. Such damage can result in long-term loss of fat and vital minerals from the body, causing weak bones.
From the information provided above, it is clear that magnesium citrate should not be used for weight loss. However, people who are currently using it should not stop abruptly. It is best to consult a doctor who will recommend the correct remedial course of action.