How Long Does Magnesium Citrate Take To Wear Off

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

How Long Magnesium Supplements Stay In The Body + When To Take Different Forms

Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.

July 28, 2022

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Magnesium is important for everything from energy production to blood sugar regulation, so it makes sense that it’s one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S. Those who take a magnesium supplement might be wondering how long the mineral tends to stay in their system and how much of it gets flushed out quickly.

Here, dietitians and nutrition experts share the basics of magnesium absorption and explain how long the supplement typically stays in the body—and what that means about when to take it.


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How long does magnesium stay in your body?

The human body does not produce magnesium on its own. Rather, it’s on us to get our recommended daily amount1

(320 milligrams for women and 420 milligrams for men) through diet. “It’s important to note that this essential macromineral’s nutritional requirement increases to 360 milligrams a day during pregnancy,” adds nutrition scientist Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN.

does not get enough magnesium from food alone, hence why dietary supplements have utility and have also become so popular3

currently fail to meet their daily magnesium needs through diet alone, which is over 100 million adults, to put this nutrient gap in perspective,” Ferira expounds.

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How Long Does Magnesium Citrate Take To Wear Off

The amount of magnesium that is absorbed by the body when we take a supplement depends on the form (i.e., complex) the magnesium is delivered in (think glycinate, oxide, etc.) but also our internal magnesium levels, or status. Someone who is magnesium deficient (has a blood serum level below 0.75 mmol/L) will generally absorb more of the mineral than someone who is not.

Infusing a bit more nuance into the assessment of magnesium levels in the body, Ferira shares that, “some health care practitioners, especially those with a functional or integrative focus, choose to assess magnesium status with red blood cell (RBC) levels5

instead of plasma or serum due to the higher magnesium content in RBCs, but even that test has its challenges in capturing the whole-body magnesium status situation.”

It’s a complex mineral. Utilized for over 300 essential cellular pathways in the body, it’s no wonder we would benefit from a sufficient supply of magnesium daily. “Your body is constantly using up magnesium and the amount that you store is regulated,” registered dietitian Tracey Frimpong, R.D., tells mbg. On average, she adds, about 40% of the magnesium we consume is absorbed in the upper GI tract, while 5% is absorbed lower down in the large intestine (i.e., colon).

One of the reasons it can be challenging to accurately measure magnesium levels in the blood is because of where it preferentially concentrates in the body. “Interestingly, 99% of the mineral6

is located in our bones (about 50 to 60%), muscles, and other soft tissues,” explains Ferira.

This ongoing process of absorption and utilization is pretty quick, so it’s important to make sure you’re always giving your body the magnesium it needs. “Most magnesium will stay in the body for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. So it’s not something you can just take once, see results, and then never take again,” explains registered dietitian Amanda Li, R.D.

This means that as you’re looking to fulfill your nutritional requirements through rich dietary sources (like green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains) and high-quality supplements, you would want to take advantage of that magnesium supplement at least once a day.

Though the exact cadence will depend on the form you’re taking—be it magnesium bisglycinate, citrate, chloride, etc., or even a comprehensive multivitamin that contains magnesium—and what you’re taking it for.


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When’s the best time of day to take a magnesium supplement?

When it comes to the best time of day to take a magnesium supplement, functional dietitian Selva Wohlgemuth, M.S., RDN, says that it depends on the magnesium form and intended effect.

For a little context: Since magnesium is an insoluble mineral on its own (as a mineral element), “it needs to be paired with another compound to create organic or inorganic salts or complexes, to make the mineral more soluble5

for the body to absorb,” Ferira shares. It’s that secondary compound that you’ll want to look at when you’re deciding on timing and a personalized supplement regimen.

Here are a few of the main forms (i.e., complexes) of magnesium you’ll find, and some best practices on when to take them during the day:

  • Magnesium bisglycinate: This highly absorbable and gentle form of magnesium, making it a great option to consume at any time of the day but also in the hours leading up to bed to support relaxation and quality sleep7 , Li explains.*
  • Magnesium citrate and oxide: These forms of magnesium are less soluble and thus, less absorbable and tend to get the bowels moving. If you’re using them for this purpose, experts suggest taking them before bedtime so you’re ready to go in the morning, while others may find that disruptive to a good night’s sleep (so it’s a personalized decision). You can also pack them in your suitcase while traveling to ensure healthy digestion on your trip.*
  • Magnesium malate: “Magnesium malate is a great option for morning supplementation because it is more energizing,” according to Wohlgemuth.*
  • Transdermal magnesium: Not supplements at all, topical applications like lotions, oils, and Epsom salt baths can be applied as needed at any time of day, says Wohlgemuth. Although “the actual absorption and whole-body relevance for efficacy of transdermal magnesium is not well demonstrated and based on preliminary science8 ,” Ferira caveats.
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How long does it take for magnesium supplements to work?

Again, this will depend on the form you’re taking, your baseline magnesium status, your personal biology (always a source of variability for any nutritional factor), and the reason you’re taking it.

Registered nurse and master nutrition therapist Ella Soderholm R.N., MNT, explains that most magnesium supplements (particularly, magnesium bisglycinate) have a calming effect on the body that you can feel relatively quickly—within an hour or so.* And those less absorbable forms like magnesium citrate and oxide tend to get the bowels moving within a few hours also. So in this sense, magnesium supplements work quickly.

Again, not a dietary supplement at all, transdermal magnesium is an interesting topic nonetheless. “The notion that Epsom salts or other magnesium applied cutaneously (i.e., via the skin) can be rapidly absorbed because the mineral supposedly bypasses your GI tract and enters the bloodstream rapidly is a nice theory but not yet supported by robust science8

,” Ferira explains. She goes on to say that, “while limited epidermal absorption of magnesium may be possible in certain, limited areas of the body (like hair follicles and sweat glands), the absorption efficiency is thought to be quite limited.”

While more research is warranted in the magnesium topical arena, Ferira concludes that people can, “feel free to soak in your salt bath, but this is not remotely relevant for achieving your daily magnesium needs in a nutritional sense.” That is where a nutrient-diverse, plant-centric diet and smart supplementation come in.

It’s important to set expectations for the timeline to improve magnesium status. If you’re taking a supplement with the intention to address a magnesium deficiency (a clinical issue thought to affect 20% or more9

of the population), that won’t happen right away.* It’s going to take longer to get to the root of the problem, Soderholm says, noting that it can be up to three to six months before levels start to rebound. “Most people with deficiency need to take magnesium every day, and it doesn’t work overnight—but that’s true with most things,”* she adds.

To ensure that you’re giving your magnesium supplement the best chance of working for you, experts offer up these tips for optimal absorption and utilization in the body:

  • For larger doses of magnesium, Wohlgemuth says it’s often best to take a magnesium supplement on an empty stomach as can compete with other minerals like calcium for absorption. But this varies by supplement, so always double-check the directions on yours. “For multivitamin doses of macrominerals, this is not an issue, but for higher, targeted doses of calcium and magnesium supplements on their own, they should ideally be spaced apart in your day,” Ferira adds.
  • Other supplements that are high in folate, iron, or fiber should be separated from stand-alone or magnesium complex supplements by at least two hours, suggests Frimpong, as they can also interfere with absorption.
  • Although excess magnesium is excreted by our kidneys with great efficiency, for a wide safety margin10 , adults should not regularly consume more than 350 milligrams11 of supplemental magnesium daily unless otherwise advised by a doctor.

Magnesium citrate

Generic name: magnesium citrate [ mag-NEE-see-um-SIH-trate ]
Brand names: Citrate of Magnesia, Citroma, Citroma Cherry, Citroma Lemon
Dosage forms: oral capsule (125 mg; 133.3 mg); oral liquid (1.745 g/30 mL); oral tablet (100 mg)
Drug class: Laxatives

Medically reviewed by on Sep 12, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is magnesium citrate?

Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral that is important for many systems in the body, especially the muscles and nerves. Magnesium citrate also increases water in the intestines.

Magnesium citrate is used as a laxative to treat occasional constipation.

Magnesium citrate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take magnesium citrate if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • kidney disease;
  • a sudden change in bowel habits that has lasted longer than 2 weeks;
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting; or
  • if you are on a low-magnesium or low-potassium diet.

It is not known whether magnesium citrate will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether magnesium citrate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take magnesium citrate?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take magnesium citrate on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water.

Magnesium citrate should produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to 6 hours after you take the medicine.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days of treatment, or if the medicine produces no results. Not having a bowel movement after using a laxative may be a sign of a condition more serious than occasional constipation.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since magnesium citrate is used when needed, you may not be on a dosing schedule. If you are on a schedule, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking magnesium citrate?

Avoid taking any other medicines within 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take magnesium citrate. Laxatives can make it harder for your body to absorb certain other drugs.

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Magnesium citrate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Magnesium citrate may cause serious side effects. Stop using magnesium citrate and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • no bowel movement within 6 hours after taking the medicine;
  • pain with bowel movements, rectal bleeding;
  • watery diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, severe stomach pain;
  • painful or difficult urination;
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • weak or shallow breathing, slow heartbeats; or
  • muscle weakness, increased thirst.

Common side effects of magnesium citrate may include:

  • loose stools, diarrhea, stomach cramps;
  • upset stomach;
  • dizziness; or
  • increased sweating.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Magnesium citrate dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Constipation:

240 mL orally one time.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Constipation:

What other drugs will affect magnesium citrate?

Other drugs may interact with magnesium citrate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Frequently asked questions

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When Does Magnesium Citrate Wear Off

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Magnesium citrate is an over-the-counter laxative that is also available as dissolving tablets. The most common use is as a treatment for acute constipation. This laxative may also be used by your doctor to prepare you for a colonoscopy procedure. Side effects can also be caused by magnesium citrate use. Stool formation and elimination can be slowed by eating food. The treatment helps with the normal movement of broken food products into your large intestine for stool bulking. A bowel movement occurs within 30 minutes to three hours after taking your medication.

When Does Magnesium Citrate Wear Off – Answer & Related Questions

After drinking the tablets, it’s usually takes about 30-60 minutes to start having bowel movements. At the start of the preparations, you may experience some bloating or cramping, but this will usually improve as the bowel movements begin.

How Long Does Bloating Last After Laxative Abuse?

Symptoms can range from 1 to three weeks, or occasionally longer, and include fluid retention, constipation, bloating, temporary weight gain, etc. (from water and stool) In the long run, your symptoms will improve, so you will be much healthier and feel better when you are not taking laxatives.
If you do not take laxatives in the future, your symptoms will rise and your overall health will improve.
If you have any signs of constipation or bloating, you may need to take some laxatives to help you cope with it.

RELATED: Magnesium Bicarbonate How To Make

How Long Do The Side Effects Of Laxatives Last?

The active ingredients of laxatives can have a different half-lives. For example, the half-life of lactulose is about 2 hours, while bisacodyl’s half life is 16 hours. Bulk-forming laxatives don’t live long because they are eliminated with your next bowel movement.

How Long Does It Take To Get Back To Normal After Laxative Abuse?

How long will laxative withdrawal last? This varies greatly. A few people have been suffering from these symptoms for two days, while others have had them for 2 to 3 months. Since halting laxative use, the majority of people have symptoms of lachative abuse for 1 to 3 weeks.

How Do I Restore My Bowels After Laxative Abuse?

Eat more foods that promote regular bowel movements.
Try more whole-grain breads, wheat bran, fruits high in fiber, such as apples; green vegetables; and yogurt.
At least three meals a day, on alternating intervals, eat regularly.
Each day, drink at least 6-10 cups of water.
To help regulate bowel function, get some physical exercise each day (intensity varies according to your healthcare practitioner’s recommendation).
Use fiber/osmotic supplements to normalize bowel movements, such as Metamucil or Prune juice, which contains an irritant laxative.

Do Laxatives Make You Bloated?

Bloating, farting, and tummy cramps are all typical side effects of most laxatives.
Dehydration can make you feel dizzy, have headaches, and have pee that is darker than normal.
The bowel is also blocked by large, dry poo (intestinal blockage), and unbalanced salts and minerals in your body, if using laxatives too often or for long.
If you experience any particular or persistent side effects while taking laxatives, ask a GP for assistance.
– It’s often possible to relieve constipation without using laxatives, and there are several alternatives.

RELATED: Does Magnesium Prevent Muscle Cramps

How Long Does It Take To Go Back To Normal After A Laxative?

Some laxatives work quickly, within 15-30 minutes, and others take one or two days to complete.
When you’re taking laxatives (8-10 cups per day): Laxatifs are usually taken for a few days until your bowel movements return to normal.
A few people need to take them long-term, for example, a few individuals who need them to be taken for lengthy stretches of time.
Within 15 to 30 minutes of using them, certain people become sexatives within 15 minutes.
Some laxative jobs are quick, while others are long-lived.

How Do You Retrain Bowels After Laxative Abuse?

To give the stool bulk, use psyllium-containing drugs, such as Metamucil.
Consume whole-wheat grains, fresh vegetables, and beans.
Try to drink 2 to 3 liters of fluid per day (unless you have a medical condition that restricts your fluid intake). Move it in a circle until the sphincter muscle relaxes. This may take a few minutes. If you are unable to sit, lie on your left side.

Does Magnesium Citrate Make You Poop All Day?

After taking magnesium citrate for constipation relief, you should expect the laxative effect to begin in 1 to 4 hours. If you notice side effects or don’t have a bowel movement, consult your doctor. Your constipation may be a symptom of underlying health problems.

RELATED: How Does Iv Magnesium Help Asthma

How Long Will Magnesium Citrate Make You Poop?

If your doctor warns you not to do so, do not take magnesium citrate more than a week. Magnesium citrate is usually responsible for bowel movements within 30 minutes to six hours after taking it.

How Do I Stop Nausea From Laxatives?

A laxative or a stool softener can help with your nausea.
Pepto Bismol or Gaviscon are also available as over-the-counter drugs.
According to several studies, ginger tea is a safe and inexpensive way to treat nausea.

Can Laxatives Bloat Your Stomach?

However, you may experience bloating and gas as a result of the laxative effect.
A magnesium-based laxative, such as magnesia or magnesium citrate, would be another alternative.
These are members of a larger class of laxatives that drain water into the bowels and cause gastrointestinal movements, but they can also cause vomiting, gas, and bloating in the process.
The most common laxative is a laroxative that draws water into your bowels but also causes gastrointestinal movements.

What To Do After Taking Too Many Laxatives?

Do not use it to treat or manage an actual overdose.
If you or someone you are with overdoses, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the U.S. Call the national poison center on 1-800/222/1222 or call the national Poison Help Hotline (1800/22/1322) Do not use it for treatment or management of an overdose, call 911 or poison poison control.

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