How Long Does It Take for Magnesium Citrate to Work?

Magnesium citrate is a popular remedy for constipation and a supplement for those seeking to improve their magnesium levels. But how long does it take to work? This article will explore its uses, and how quickly it can provide relief or benefits.

When to expect the results?


The time it takes for magnesium citrate to work can vary based on several factors, including:

  • the dosage,
  • individual metabolism,
  • the specific use (constipation relief vs. supplementation).

In general, most people find that magnesium citrate acts relatively quickly, especially when used as a laxative. However, it’s important to consider personal health conditions and consult with a healthcare provider if there are any concerns.

For constipation relief

According to Medline Plus, when used as a laxative, magnesium citrate generally works within 30 minutes to 6 hours. Most people experience relief within the first few hours, making it a quick and effective option for constipation. This rapid action is due to the body’s ability to absorb magnesium citrate efficiently, prompting the intestines to draw in water swiftly.

It’s crucial to remain near a restroom during this period, as the urge to have a bowel movement can come suddenly. Individuals should also be mindful of the dosage to prevent excessive bowel movements and potential dehydration.

Factors influencing speed

  • Higher doses tend to work faster, but it’s crucial to follow the recommended dosage to avoid potential side effects. It’s always best to start with the lowest effective dose and only increase if necessary, under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Additionally, individuals should be aware of their body’s response and adjust the dosage accordingly.
  • People with faster metabolic rates may experience quicker results. Metabolism can affect how quickly the body processes and responds to magnesium citrate, leading to varying times of onset. Factors such as age, weight, activity level, and overall health can influence metabolism. For example, younger individuals or those who are more physically active might notice the effects sooner compared to older adults or those with slower metabolic rates. It’s important to recognize that each person’s response can be different, and patience may be required.
  • Hydration levels: Adequate water intake can enhance the effectiveness of magnesium citrate. Staying well-hydrated helps ensure that there is enough water in the body to be drawn into the intestines, facilitating the laxative effect. Drinking water before and after taking magnesium citrate can also help prevent dehydration, a common side effect of its use as a laxative. Proper hydration supports overall digestive health and can improve the efficiency of magnesium citrate in relieving constipation.

For supplementation

When taken as a dietary supplement to correct magnesium deficiency, the effects might not be immediately noticeable. It can take several days to weeks of consistent use to observe benefits such as improved muscle function, better sleep, and enhanced mood.

As stated by NIH, magnesium is involved in many bodily functions, so replenishing low levels can gradually lead to noticeable improvements in energy levels, stress management, and overall well-being. Users should maintain a regular supplementation routine and monitor their health to see the full benefits.

Consulting with a healthcare provider can help tailor the supplementation plan to individual needs.

Potential side effects and precautions


  1. Diarrhea: Due to its laxative effect, diarrhea is a common side effect. While it can be effective in relieving constipation, excessive diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. It’s important to stay hydrated and monitor bowel movements to avoid these complications. If diarrhea persists or becomes severe, discontinuing use and seeking medical advice is recommended.
  2. Abdominal cramps: Some users may experience stomach cramps or discomfort. These cramps are often a result of the increased intestinal activity stimulated by magnesium citrate. While usually mild, they can be uncomfortable. Taking the supplement with food or adjusting the dosage might help alleviate this side effect. Persistent or severe cramps should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
  3. Nausea: Nausea can occur, especially if taken on an empty stomach. To reduce the likelihood of nausea, it can be helpful to take magnesium citrate with meals or a small snack. Additionally, dividing the dosage into smaller, more frequent amounts might ease this side effect. If nausea is severe or persists, it may be necessary to explore other forms of magnesium or different treatments.


When using magnesium citrate, it’s important to consider several precautions to ensure its safe and effective use.

Consult a doctor

If you have kidney problems, are pregnant, or have any other medical conditions, consult a healthcare provider before using magnesium citrate. Certain health conditions can be exacerbated by magnesium citrate, and a doctor can provide personalized advice on its safety and appropriateness.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should seek medical advice to ensure the supplement will not affect their health or their baby’s health.

Avoid overuse

Using magnesium citrate too frequently can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Chronic use as a laxative can also cause dependency, where the bowels become reliant on laxatives for regular movements. It’s important to use magnesium citrate only as directed and to explore other constipation remedies if needed.

For long-term management of constipation, dietary and lifestyle changes should be considered.

Magnesium citrate vs. other laxatives

Magnesium citrate is one of the most common types of magnesium supplements. But you might be suprised to learn that magnesium citrate is often prescribed as a laxative and in our view, when compared to other forms of magnesium like magnesium glycinate, magnesium threonate and magnesium malate, is not a preferred form of magnesium to supplement with. If supplementing magnesium citrate works for you, then that’s great! But if you’re not experiencing much of a benefit form your magnesium citrate supplement, it could be an idea to start experimenting with some other forms. #magnesiumcitrate #magnesiumcitratesupplement #magnesiumsupplement #magnesium #supplements

♬ original sound – Honour Health | Supplements

Magnesium citrate is often preferred for its rapid action compared to other over-the-counter laxatives like bisacodyl or senna, which might take longer to work. Its quick onset makes it a reliable choice for those needing immediate relief from constipation.

However, individual preferences and responses can vary, and some may find other laxatives more suitable based on their unique needs and health conditions.

While effective, magnesium citrate may cause more pronounced side effects compared to some other laxatives. These side effects can be more intense due to the rapid increase in water in the intestines. Other laxatives, such as fiber-based options or stool softeners, may have a gentler effect but take longer to work.

The bottom line

Magnesium citrate is a powerful and effective remedy for constipation and a useful supplement for those needing to boost their magnesium levels. Always follow dosing instructions, stay hydrated, and be aware of the potential side effects of using magnesium citrate safely and effectively.