You may have seen it in your grandmother’s medicine cabinet, that innocuous dark blue bottle that has nothing to do with dairy products. Well, it is still on grocery shelves and despite all the competitors out there, it still may be the best constipation treatment on the market.
An age-old constipation treatment, Phillips Milk of Magnesia owes its healing powers to the mineral magnesium.
In The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (published in 2007) involving Japanese women 18-20 years of age, constipation was associated with dehydration and low magnesium intake.
Any effective constipation treatment should contain magnesium rather than just additional fiber.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a critical mineral found in all your tissues and bones, and the brain. It is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and is crucial to your cells’ ability to make energy, stabilize membranes, and it is a muscle relaxer.
Related: What Makes Fatty Acids So Essential?
Tightness, stiff muscles, and cramping are all common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency. Unfortunately magnesium is poorly absorbed by the body, and easily lost. In order to get enough from your diet, magnesium must be ingested with the vitamins B6 and D along with selenium.
Common food additives and drinks consumed by most Americans leach magnesium out of the body, too. Coffee, sodas, salt, sugar and alcohol can drain magnesium from the body leading to a host of health problems, one of them being constipation.
Factors outside our diet are also responsible for low magnesium levels like chronic stress, profuse sweating, antibiotics and other drugs, just to name a few. The list of health problems associated with a magnesium deficiency extends far beyond constipation, too, and includes:
- Muscle cramps or twitching
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
How to Get More Magnesium in Your Body
If you suffer any of those things and are looking for a constipation treatment, getting more magnesium into your daily diet is probably a good idea. If the thought of choking down a chalky medication like Milk of Magnesia is a bit off-putting, relax. There are lots of other ways to keep magnesium at optimum levels in your body.
Adult males and females can take anywhere from 320 milligrams up to 400 milligrams of magnesium and be safe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult with their doctor to determine how much is safe for them.
A diet that includes dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard or cooked baby spinach is a great way to get more magnesium in your diet, plus a plethora of additional vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Skip the peanut butter and go nuts. Or be a little seedy. Pine nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed are all great sources of magnesium.
If you want a little protein with your magnesium try eating more fish, soybeans and avocados. All these great tasting foods are loaded with magnesium and contain a lot of other nutrients that help thwart constipation, too.
Bananas and low-fat yogurt mixed together and topped with some pecans is a delish dish loaded with magnesium, so why not try it for a simple healthy constipation treatment and a yummy breakfast?
Finally, even a little dessert can add magnesium to your diet. Dark chocolate is a rich source, as well as a great way to end a meal. One square offers 24% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium, but with only about 145 calories.