Can Magnesium Citrate Really Help You Lose Weight?

Losing weight is hard. Plain and simple. Everyone wants to be able to turn to a fast and easy solution to shed pounds.

But have you wondered if any of those methods are healthy and effective?

Have you thought that losing weight could be as simple as drinking magnesium citrate?

Magnesium citrate acts as a laxative, so it clears out the body in that way.

As I have struggled through both weight loss and constipation, it is important to me for people to know the uses of this particular drug, as I have had extensive experience taking it.

It is important to note that this is not an effective drug if you are looking to lose weight long term.


What is Magnesium Citrate?

Magnesium citrate is a type of magnesium that can be used as either a laxative or a dietary supplement.

It is often used for patients to clean out their colons and intestinal tract before undergoing colonoscopies, or to alleviate symptoms of indigestion or severe constipation.

Magnesium citrate is a saline laxative, which means it pulls water into the intestines in order to soften the stool and help to increase the transit time of bowels.

This type of magnesium differs from the mineral that is found in foods that help the body with biochemical functions.


What Happens When You Drink It?

Thirty minutes to six hours after drinking magnesium citrate, you are likely to empty your bowels completely.

You may feel dehydrated during this time, as the body is using its fluid to help the bowels move along.

According to LiveStrong, magnesium citrate works in the lower intestines, which is past the stage where nutrition and calories from food have been absorbed.(1)

When you look at it like this, it is easy to see why magnesium citrate does not help you lose fat, but can temporarily help you lose water weight from the bowels emptying the body.

This weight, however, will soon be replaced with food and drink.

Liquid magnesium citrate is available in a soda-like mixture and has a strong and unpleasant taste, but drinking it cold by storing it in the refrigerator may help to make it more reasonable.

It is also advised to drink it through a straw so you can consume it as quickly as possible.

Magnesium Citrate Side Effects

Magnesium citrate may cause unpleasant side effects, including stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, and dizziness.(2)

Its effects may come on suddenly, without a great amount of buildup to the symptoms. Taking magnesium citrate may also limit your daily activities, due to your need to be near a restroom at all times, if you choose to take it in the morning.


Dangers of Magnesium Citrate

Taking this type of magnesium for any other purpose besides occasional constipation or in preparation for a medical procedure may be dangerous. reports that frequent, watery bowel movements cause the body to lose water, as well as electrolytes.(3)

The imbalance that this creates has the ability to cause weakness, seizures, and possibly even a heart attack. When the body has an imbalance of electrolytes and water, it can cause severe dehydration, especially in those who have pre-existing health conditions.

Extensive use of laxatives such as magnesium citrate can also lead to dependence.

The muscles in your bowels can atrophy if you are constantly giving them so much assistance with doing their job.

This interferes with regular bowel function and may cause permanent damage to the intestines and colon, according to the Centre for Clinical Interventions.(4)

Many muscles move within the lower intestinal tract to excrete the bowels, starting in the upper colon and moving down.

These muscles work in unison to keep your system regular and healthy.



According to the National Institutes of Health, excessive doses of magnesium citrate have been associated with toxicity.

This includes a report of a fatal hypermagnesemia in a boy at the age of 28 months, as well as an elderly man.(5,6)

Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include nausea, hypotension, vomiting, retention of urine, facial flushing, ileus, short-term depression, and extreme lethargy.(7)

These symptoms then progress to muscle weakness, extreme hypotension, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and possibly a heart attack.

The chances of magnesium toxicity occurring increase when renal function is impaired or kidney failure has occurred, because the body loses the ability to remove excess magnesium.


Drug Interactions

Magnesium citrate does not have major interactions with many drugs, although it is still important to always share all of your medications with a doctor.

Magnesium citrate should be used with caution when taking tetracycline antibiotics, potassium phosphate, penicillamine, sodium phosphate, fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and vitamin D, according to EverydayHealth.(8)



Magnesium citrate is available over-the-counter in a liquid or tablet form. Magnesium citrate, taken as a supplement, should be taken at varying doses, depending on one’s body type.

Intake recommendations for magnesium are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes created by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.(9)

Men between the ages of 19 and 30 should take 400 milligrams each day. Men over 30 should increase that dosage to 420 mg.

Women under 50 should take 310 mg each day, unless pregnant, in which case 320 mg each day is appropriate. 320 mg per day is also appropriate for women over 50.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (10)

Males, 19 to 30 years: 400 mg daily

Females, 19 to 30 years: 310 mg daily

Males, 31 years and over: 420 mg daily

Females, 31 years and over: 320 mg daily

Pregnant females, 19 to 30 years: 350 mg daily

Pregnant females, 31 and over: 360 mg daily

Breastfeeding females, 19 to 30 years: 310 mg daily

Breastfeeding females, 31 years and over: 320 mg daily

According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium should not be consumed in larger doses than recommended.


Magnesium Citrate and Weight Loss

Magnesium Citrate is not dissimilar to other colon cleansers that claim to cause extreme weight loss in a short amount of time.

The problem is, it does nothing for fat that is stored in the body. It only rids your intestines of its contents.

This “weight” is in transit anyway, so it doesn’t necessarily do anything your body is not preparing to do on its own. It only speeds up the process, leaving your body empty for a short period of time until you refill it.

Losing water weight is not an effective way to appear slimmer. It can be more harmful in the long run, causing dehydration and energy loss, keeping you from being active and burning fat cells.

Several studies have shown that dehydration can impair mood, brain performance and increase feelings of anxiety and fatigue.(11,12,13)

Because your body is already efficient at eliminating waste on its own, laxatives such a magnesium citrate should not be used to speed up this process.

Do not expect positive, long-term results from drinking magnesium citrate.

They can be damaging and in the long run lead to more bloating and constipation because the muscles in the colon begin to relax if they are not used to having to expel waste on their own.

Magnesium citrate should not be considered a fat flush or any other type of miracle weight loss supplement. It simply does not have the ability to have long term-effects on weight or fat loss.


Magnesium Citrate vs. Magnesium Oxide

There are several types of magnesium, and it is important to not confuse them. Another type of magnesium supplement in addition to magnesium citrate is magnesium oxide.

Others include magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium hydroxide.

Unlike magnesium citrate supplements which include 15 percent magnesium, magnesium oxide supplements have 60 percent magnesium.(14)

Some types of magnesium are more bioavailable than others. Magnesium citrate is very easily absorbed compared to others, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.(15)

Due to the fact that a higher percentage of the magnesium in magnesium citrate is absorbed in the body, these supplements do not need to have as much total magnesium in them in order to have the same effect as other magnesium supplements.

That study compared the bioavailability of magnesium citrate versus the bioavailability of magnesium oxide, which is often found in poorly-absorbed dietary supplements, and found that there is a significantly more absorption of magnesium citrate in healthy people than magnesium oxide.(15)

A study also found that magnesium citrate is 55 percent soluble in water, while magnesium oxide is essentially insoluble.

This means that magnesium citrate is much more absorbable in the body than magnesium oxide.(15)



In conclusion, is it true that magnesium citrate aids in weight loss? While it will cause a lot of watery bowel movements, it cannot work alone as an aid for weight loss.

Instead, making healthy food choices, getting the right amount of physical activity each day, taking only the necessary vitamins and supplements that are suggested by your doctor, and consulting a nutritionist are the only ways to ensure you get on the ultimate weight loss track.