Magnesium facilitates proper function of all human organs and it is essential for teeth and skeletal development, in addition to other vital roles. A number of magnesium types exist. Your body easily assimilates magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate and magnesium lactate 23. As dietary supplements, two other forms readily available: magnesium sulfate and magnesium hydroxide 4. A balanced diet provides adequate levels of magnesium, so check with your doctor before supplementing the mineral.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate works as a laxative, transferring water from tissue into the intestines 2. The moisture promotes the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles, which pushes accumulated fecal matter out. According to the American Cancer Society, a bowel movement occurs within 30 minutes to three hours of taking magnesium citrate 2. The organization also warns the supplement may interfere with the therapeutic effects of blood thinners, heart medicines and psychiatric drugs classified as phenothiazines; two hours should pass since your last medicine dose before you take this supplement. Adverse side effects include dysfunctional bowels, dizziness, nausea, bloating and other health issues that may occur if the supplement gives you diarrhea.

Magnesium Gluconate

Magnesium gluconate is important for healthy muscles and nerves, in particular. In supplement form, this type of magnesium corrects magnesium deficiency. According to the website, magnesium gluconate is contraindicated when kidney disease is present 23. The best way to take this mineral is to do it under your doctor’s supervision; ingest he recommended dosage with a glass of water unless the physician gives you different instructions. Your body absorbs the supplement more efficiently if you take it with a meal. Negative side effects of taking magnesium gluconate include:

  • vomiting
  • lightheadedness
  • tingling
  • abnormal heart rate
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • stomach upset

Magnesium Lactate

Magnesium lactate promotes a healthy heart 3. It also facilitates the activities of the nervous and digestive systems. This type of magnesium treats deficiency of the mineral, as well as stomach problems such as heartburn. The supplement is contraindicated if you have heart or kidney disease. It can also cause diarrhea, which you might avoid by taking it with a meal. Mention all drugs you are on to your doctor in case there is evidence of a negative interaction with the mineral. According to, the usual dosage of magnesium lactate is twice daily at 12-hour intervals 23. Hives, shortness of breath and a swollen face, tongue or throat indicate a serious allergic reaction. Other possible side effects are diarrhea, gas and stomach upset.

Magnesium Sulfate

Doctors prescribe magnesium sulfate to treat seizures that occur during pregnancy as a result of high blood pressure 4. The condition is known as preeclampsia, and it can induce coma. Among other uses, this form of magnesium also stops premature labor, corrects magnesium deficiency and decreases the body’s absorption of toxins present in the gastrointestinal tract, says Brooklyn College 4. Excessive sweating, flushing, hypotension and hypothermia are among the adverse side effects possible when taking magnesium sulfate 4.

Magnesium Hydroxide

Usually, magnesium hydroxide serves as a laxative for short-term use. Take this magnesium type as needed, not continuously, to treat constipation, unless your doctor prescribes it for a different condition. As it is the case with other forms of this mineral, magnesium hydroxide can also interact negatively with over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and nutritional supplements 23. Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease if she prescribes this supplement. Magnesium hydroxide may cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach problems.