Substitute for Magnesium Citrate

More than 300 chemical reactions in the body can occur only if magnesium is present. Among the many roles the mineral plays, it promotes a healthy heartbeat, regulates glucose and keeps the immune system strong. Different types of magnesium supplements exist, each with specific functions. For instance, magnesium citrate draws moisture from body tissue and moves it into the intestines to provoke a bowel movement. Other forms of magnesium supplements also may relieve constipation, but before making substitutions, check with your doctor.

Magnesium Hydroxide

Magnesium hydroxide helps alleviate occasional constipation, just as magnesium citrate does. But magnesium hydroxide also operates as an antacid, neutralizing the digestive acid in the stomach. In addition to stimulating the bowel, magnesium hydroxide may relieve indigestion and heartburn. This form of magnesium is available as tablets or liquid, both for oral administration. Many brands of this supplement exist. Follow your doctor’s directions for taking the one prescribed or use it according to the manufacturer’s label.

Magnesium Hydroxide Considerations

Magnesium hydroxide can interact adversely with anticoagulant drugs by increasing the risk of the side effects each drug poses. The mineral also can neutralize some of the therapeutic effects of tetracycline and quinolone antibiotics. Likewise, it can reduce the effect of medicines classified as azole antifungals, cephalosporins and bisphosphonates, among others. As is also the case with magnesium citrate, magnesium hydroxide may be contraindicated if you have or had kidney disease, which can prevent the kidneys from flushing out excess magnesium and thus intoxicating the body with the mineral. This type of magnesium also has the potential to cause stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea. The best approach to avoid problems is to tell your doctor your complete medical history and all prescription and over-the-counter substances that you take. Talk to a health care provider if you come down with any symptoms while taking magnesium hydroxide.

Magnesium Sulfate

In addition to supporting muscle and nerve health, magnesium sulfate relieves constipation by directing water into the intestines -- the same mechanism that magnesium citrate uses. This type of magnesium, better known as Epsom salt, is sold as loose crystals inside a carton. The crystals are slightly larger than table salt. Dilute them in 8 oz. of water to take this supplement. Find out how much to dissolve from your physician, or follow the instructions on the product label.

Magnesium Sulfate Considerations

Just as with other forms of magnesium supplements, if you suffer from kidney disease and take magnesium sulfate, you may end up with excess magnesium in your body. Too much magnesium is associated with cognitive impairment, digestive problems, hypotension, muscle weakness, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeat. Magnesium sulfate also can interact adversely with a number of antibiotics such as, but not limited to, ciprofloxacin, minocycline and streptomycin. Return to your physician’s office if you do not have a bowel movement after taking magnesium sulfate or if it causes rectal bleeding.

Food Substitutes

If you need magnesium citrate to correct a mineral deficiency, your doctor may agree to prescribe a diet rich in certain foods instead of supplements. All greens are sources of magnesium because they contain chlorophyll molecules. The mineral is present in the center of each molecule. Almonds, lentils, soy, avocados, whole-wheat products and a number of other nuts, legumes, whole grains and vegetables provide magnesium. Among meat products, halibut is a fish with a good concentration of the mineral. Magnesium food sources do not usually cause adverse reactions unless you are allergic or have an intolerance to any of their components. Hives, rash and difficulty breathing are signs of allergic reaction. Get medical attention if you experience these or other unusual symptoms after consuming these foods.