man on a toilet, overcome constipation, agonizing constipation. laxative addiction

Some medications cause constipation as a side effect. Occasionally, people report that simple supplements can trigger agonizing constipation. As a result, one reader faced a dilemma:

Trying to Take Calcium Pills:

Q. Even the smallest amount of calcium supplement causes me severe constipation. Recently my doctor told me I should take calcium for osteoporosis prevention. Although I explained that it causes constipation, she insisted. So I tried again.

After that, I thought I would have to go to the emergency room. I was so backed up that I had to use Milk of Magnesia and enemas to get myself unblocked. I threw out my bottle of calcium and will not take it again. How else can I get the calcium I need without suffering?

Preventing Osteoporosis Without Agonizing Constipation:

A. The idea that calcium supplements are effective for preventing osteoporosis and fractures is controversial.

One review of 33 controlled studies found that

“the use of supplements that included calcium, vitamin D or both compared with placebo or no treatment was not associated with a lower risk of fractures” (Zhao, Zeng & Wang, JAMA, Dec. 26, 2017).

Getting Calcium from Food:

However, it is still important to consume adequate calcium. You could get the calcium you need from food. Milk is a rich source, and so are yogurt, kefir and mozzarella cheese. If dairy products are not for you, try dark green vegetables like kale, collards, turnip greens and bok choy. Tofu, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, canned salmon and sardines are other good sources of calcium that should not cause constipation.

Taking Care of Constipation:

Our recent interview with gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan provides a number of ideas about how to ward off agonizing constipation. It is Show 1115: How You Can Conquer Constipation.

In it, you will learn about medications that can trigger constipation, how physical activity helps reduce it, and where to find the natural fiber you need to keep things moving.

You may also be interested in our free Guide to Constipation.

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  1. Ulla S.

    I said it before, and I say it again: High-fiber cereal (13 grams per 1/2 cup) works for constipation or diarrhea; great product; I eat it every morning and add some nuts and plain yogurt (also a bit of milk). Try it.

    Also, please comment on calcium derived from limestone versus plant-sourced calcium!!??

  2. Caroline C.

    I have taken magnesium for pain from fibromyalgia, but it often gave me diarrhea. When I was instructed to take calcium for bone density, I became very constipated. I finally realized that a balance between the two would help. When I started taking a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement, that is the right balance. I do try to get most of my calcium from food, though.

  3. Jane

    I found calcium carbonate to be a problem. Try calcium gluconate and add some magnesium to your supplements. Mg can cause the runs so start with help pills and increase if he essary.

  4. Carrol

    This is too simple. Cheese and other foods will do the same for me. Simple answer,I take about 300 mg of magnesium with the
    food and NO constipation. Always take one of the “ATE forms….
    [chelate,citrate ect..}.

  5. Jan
    North Carolina

    What about taking Magnesium to relieve the constipation caused by Calcium? In The Magnesium Miracle, Carolyn Dean, MD says low magnesium, especially in relation to calcium, can cause constipation as a result of calcium supplements.

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