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October 20, 2023

Taking Magnesium For Bloating + 7 More Ways to Beat the Bloat

Magnesium for bloating, along with nutrition and lifestyle changes, can help relieve gassiness, fullness, and increased abdominal pressure.
Written by
Palita Yodmani
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Robert Floyd

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Contents

Bloating is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in the United States, with nearly everyone in the population having reported feeling this kind of abdominal pain at least once. Chronic bloating may affect as much as 16% to 31% of people, and 66% to 90% of those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As with many other chronic health conditions, bloating often affects women more than men. (Source, Source)

Even though the etiology of bloating is complex, there has been extensive research into different therapies for this disorder, including magnesium supplementation. In this article we’ll explore the benefits of taking magnesium for bloating and more ways to help you beat the bloat!

The Symptoms of Bloating

For most people, abdominal discomfort is brief and will often ease itself over time. But for others, bloating can be a persistent, daily discomfort that negatively affects their everyday living. The most common symptoms of bloating are:

  • gassiness
  • trapped gas
  • abdominal pressure
  • fullness

Bloating can occur anywhere throughout the gastrointestinal tract and can even create a visibly distended abdomen. In addition to the abdominal pain, this kind of internal pressure and swelling can leave you feeling that you look “like a balloon.” (Source, Source)

silicon transparent sponge on surface

What Causes Bloating?

There are several possible causes of this common GI complaint. The ones we’ll discuss today are swallowing air, carbohydrate malabsorption, disturbance in the gut microbiome, and existing health conditions. Let’s start from the top!

Swallowing Air

Excess gas commonly accumulates due to swallowing air, drinking carbonated beverages, eating fast, or even drinking out of straws. When air enters your stomach through your mouth, your body needs a way to expel it — burping is the standard process for removing this excess gas. Accumulation of gas in your stomach due to swallowing air can make you feel full and uncomfortable, but these gastrointestinal symptoms are entirely different from bloating due to the following causes we’ll be talking about. (Source)

Carbohydrate Malabsorption

Foods that are not completely broken down or absorbed in the small intestine, as may happen with those that are high in FODMAPs (which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols — simply put, particular carbs that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome) get transported intact to the colon, or large intestine. There, gut bacteria metabolize and ferment the undigested food into short-chain fatty acids, carbon dioxide, gasses, and hydrogen. The gas produced by the colon’s gut bacteria leads to bloating symptoms. Foods that can cause these digestive issues include:

  • lactose, found in dairy products
  • fructose, found in fruit juice, table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and maple syrup
  • sorbitol, found in artificial sweeteners, candies, and gums
  • legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, which are high in fiber
  • complex carbohydrates, such as wheat

(Source, Source)

Difficulty in breaking down these carbohydrates can be attributed to carbohydrate intolerance, which occurs when your body does not produce enough enzymes to help digest the carbohydrate molecules. For example, if your body doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase to break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, consuming it may lead to bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

Gut Microbiome Disturbance

Your gut microbiome is composed of millions of microorganisms living within your intestinal tract. These microbes play a vital role in your metabolism and overall health. Any disruption to your gut health — as may occur with a poor diet, antibiotic use, or illness — can dramatically influence how your gut functions, including production of excess gas. (Source, Source)

Health Conditions

Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation

Apart from lifestyle factors, bloating can stem from pre-existing health conditions. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders. People with IBS may experience diarrhea, constipation, or both. If you have IBS with constipation (IBS-C), you may experience more abdominal bloating because stool stays in the colon longer, giving bacterial fermentation the opportunity to produce excess gas. (Source, Source)

Autoimmune Disease

Celiac disease (CD) is an immune response that attacks your own intestines when stimulated by the presence of gluten. Therefore, a gluten free diet remains the only method of treatment for CD patients that is both efficient and secure in managing symptoms. However, if you follow a gluten free diet you need to be careful to include healthy amounts of fiber and micronutrients such as magnesium, as both are crucial in managing gassiness and bloating. (Source)

What Is Magnesium and Why Is It Important?

Magnesium is one of the minerals most essential to human biological function. It is involved in almost every vital biochemical and metabolic process within our cells. It acts as an essential cofactor to hundreds of enzymes, meaning they don’t work without it. Magnesium plays a crucial role in many physiological functions such as regulating sodium, potassium, calcium, blood pressure, muscle contraction, and heart rhythm.

Magnesium is also responsible for other cellular processes such as signaling pathways, bone development, neuromuscular function, energy storage and transfer, and glucose, lipid, and protein metabolism. A deficiency in magnesium can result in many chronic illnesses. (Source, Source)

How Does Magnesium Help Bloating?

Magnesium is known for its powerful laxative properties. It can work in 2 ways to help with bloating:

  • Magnesium attracts water into the intestines. The increase in water helps soften stool and increases stool size so it moves more easily through the GI tract.
  • Magnesium can help relax smooth muscles within the intestines and allows the stool to pass through the intestine smoothly.

(Source, Source, Source)

Natural Sources of Magnesium

So now that we know how magnesium works in the body to reduce bloat, where can we find natural sources of magnesium? Luckily, what you eat and drink can provide you with this necessary mineral.

glass of water with lemon halves

Water

You are likely to get about 10% of the recommended dietary allowance of magnesium from drinking tap water. The magnesium content of your tap water will vary based on where you live and how your water is sourced, with groundwater typically containing more minerals than surface water. Bottled water, especially spring water, generally tends to have low magnesium content. Bottled mineral waters, on the other hand, can help increase your magnesium intake in a highly bioavailable form, beyond what you naturally consume from tap water. Drinking hard water (meaning water that has high mineral content) may be a factor in reduced mortality — so grab a glass straight from the tap, or research your local water supply to learn more about your water’s minerality. (Source, Source, Source, Source)

Chlorophyll

A vital source of magnesium lies in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. This means leafy green vegetables are a great source of magnesium. (Source)

Other Sources

High Magnesium Foods

  • leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
  • nuts and seeds, such as almonds and pumpkin seeds
  • unprocessed cereals

Intermediate Magnesium Foods

  • legumes, such as black beans and edamame
  • fruit, such as avocados and bananas
  • meat, such as chicken breast and beef
  • Wild caught, fatty fish, such as salmon

Low Magnesium Foods

  • dairy products
  • processed foods

(Source)

Studies have shown that people in most industrialized countries, especially in the Western world, are deprived of natural magnesium. This is due in part to the increased consumption of processed food and bottled water with low magnesium levels, and lower consumption of leafy green vegetables that are a great source of magnesium. (Source, Source, Source)

Which Magnesium Is Best for Bloating?

There are many different forms of magnesium supplements. These supplements contain chelated magnesium, meaning that magnesium is bound to another molecule to increase its bioavailability.

Typically, magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate are preferred due to their high absorption and bioavailability. Magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate, on the other hand, may remain unabsorbed, drawing excess water into the intestines and possibly causing diarrhea. (Source)

  • Magnesium citrate is the magnesium supplement most commonly used to manage bloating and constipation. This over-the-counter, gentle laxative helps draw water from the intestinal wall and expands, softens, and loosens the stool, making bowel movements easier. This can help alleviate bloating symptoms. (Source, Source, Source)
  • Magnesium glycinate is an even more gentle and safe option for the gut. In fact, this type of magnesium may help improve your sleep quality. (Source)
  • Magnesium oxide is another popular over-the-counter laxative. It has an osmotic laxative effect similar to magnesium citrate (that is, it draws water into the intestines) and has long been used to treat chronic constipation. Magnesium oxide is generally only recommended for short-term use since it is not as easily absorbed by the body and may cause diarrhea and additional gastrointestinal distress. While effective as a laxative, this form of magnesium doesn’t help to improve bloating or discomfort in the abdomen. (Source)
  • Magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salt, can be found in supplements, bath salts, and magnesium sulfate-rich mineral waters. It has been used for centuries as a natural treatment for many gastrointestinal conditions, especially functional constipation. Effective as a laxative, magnesium sulfate has not been shown to reduce bloating. (Source)

The care team here at WellTheory will take into account your unique needs when it comes to magnesium supplementation, and recommend the most effective form to alleviate your symptoms. It’s all part of the personalized care we provide!

Recommended Magnesium Intake

Consuming a sufficient amount of magnesium daily is essential for preventing magnesium deficiency. The dietary allowance for magnesium consumption varies depending on age, sex, and nutritional status. Currently, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 310 mg to 320 mg per day for women and 400 mg to 420 mg per day for men. (Source)

Safety and Precautions: What to Consider

Although oral magnesium supplementation is generally well tolerated, it has the potential to produce gastrointestinal symptoms such diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. (Source)

As with all supplements, it is essential to know that magnesium can interact and interfere with some medications. For example, drugs such as bisphosphonates, used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, will not work as effectively when taken with magnesium supplements or medications. Magnesium can also interfere with antibiotics absorption if taken immediately before or after them.

Before taking a magnesium supplement, speak to a health care professional or a pharmacist to confirm it will not interfere or interact with any other supplements or medications you are taking. (Source)

7 other ways to manage the bloat

7 Other Ways to Manage the Bloat

Mindful Eating

As mentioned earlier, rapid eating and drinking can lead to unconsciously swallowing air, which consequently leads to bloating. Eating and drinking mindfully is a simple way to combat bloating from swallowed air. Mindful eating is a meditative intervention that can help cultivate awareness and presence.

Researchers believe mindfulness interventions bring many beneficial and metabolic outcomes, including improved glucose levels, and can also help with stress management. So, let’s be present: Take a few deep breaths before eating, and chew thoroughly before swallowing! (Source)

Physical Activities

Whether you experience bloating or not, we know that physical activity has many benefits for health. Studies have shown that physical activity and upright posture help quicken gas transit in patients with abdominal bloating. This kind of activity does not have to be hour-long intensive workouts. It can be long walks in your neighborhood, yoga stretches, or even at-home Pilates. Choose a physical activity you enjoy and try to incorporate it into your healthy lifestyle to improve intestinal gas clearance and reduce bloating. (Source, Source, Source, Source)

Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that serve many health benefits and are extremely important to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. They can come from dietary supplements or cultured food such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. Including these fermented foods in your diet will diversify and strengthen your intestinal microbiota.

Disturbance to the gut microbiota, known as dysbiosis, can stem from food allergies, fungal infections, and the use of antibiotics, among other causes. Probiotics help to improve disturbed gut microbiota by increasing microbial diversity. Probiotics are believed to work in a number of different ways, including secreting an anti-microbial medium and adhering to the intestinal lining. This creates a hostile environment for pathogens and inhibits their growth. (Source, Source)

A number of studies have found therapeutic benefits of probiotics for GI disorders, suggesting they may help reduce symptoms of IBS such as inflammation, bloating, and diarrhea. (Source, Source)

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil, an essential oil taken by mouth for its antispasmodic properties, has been used since ancient times to manage digestive disorders. Research has shown peppermint oil may significantly decrease and relieve abdominal symptoms such as bloating and distension by relaxing the bowel muscles, making it easier for gas and stool to pass through. (Source, Source, Source)

Fiber

There are different kinds of dietary fiber, with differing physical and chemical properties. Highly fermentable fiber can cause rapid gas production and abdominal bloating. However, moderately fermentable dietary fiber can help manage overall IBS symptoms and bloating. Psyllium is often recommended for IBS patients to help regulate stool and manage abdominal discomfort.

Remember that when introducing any type of supplementation into your regimen, it’s best to make the transition gradually, avoiding sudden changes. As you add more fiber to your diet, you may experience temporary abdominal bloating and discomfort due to changes in bowel habits. (Source)

bowl of cut strawberries, bananas, kiwis and blueberries

Coconut Water

Coconut water contains many beneficial vitamins and micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Studies have shown that coconut water may help alleviate some health conditions due to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and diuretic properties. Findings from medical research suggest that coconut water can aid in reducing bloating, improving digestion, and relieving constipation when taken in a moderate amount. (Source)

Please note: If you’re experiencing kidney failure, you should avoid coconut water due to its high potassium content.

Elimination Diet

Bloating can be due to food intolerance and sensitivity. Elimination diets such as the autoimmune protocol (AIP) are great methods of identifying food sensitivities. To avoid the risk of nutritional deficiencies when on an elimination diet, it’s best to work with a trained dietician or nutritional therapy practitioner. Our care team at WellTheory can review your health history and help you methodically identify and eliminate triggers to regain control over your health. (Source)

The Bottom Line

While there are multiple causes of abdominal bloating, the most effective long-term solution is carefully observing your symptoms and understanding the potential root causes. When your body is reacting and showing signs of discomfort, it may be telling you to consider changes that would improve your digestive health. Incorporating magnesium into your diet, through eating foods high in magnesium or taking magnesium supplements, can be a significant first step to managing your bloating symptoms, allowing your body a chance to heal.

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There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

The latest supplement research
A list of supplements and their benefits
A supplement shopping list!

There’s more to healing than medication.
Identify ways to improve your autoimmune care and find out if WellTheory is right for you.

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Evaluate Your Care