Magnesium oxide is a mineral typically taken to aid in digestive health. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle contractions and cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms.
Magnesium oxide is commonly taken as an antacid, providing relief from heartburn, indigestion and sour stomach. It also serves as a short-term laxative to empty bowels as needed and can be taken with water or juice to mask any unpleasant taste. Using magnesium oxide as a laxative should be done sparingly to avoid unwanted side effects, and it should not be taken on an empty stomach. The laxative effects also help the body detoxify itself. It may be taken as a dietary supplement if a diet does not provide the recommended amount of magnesium. Side effects of taking magnesium oxide can include diarrhea and cramping.
A deficiency of magnesium oxide can be detected through a number of symptoms. Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and fatigue all serve as early warnings of a lack of magnesium in the body, which can lead to more severe health issues.
Leafy greens such as spinach or chard, pumpkin seeds, and avocados serve as excellent sources of magnesium. Including these foods in a diet helps reduce the risk of a magnesium deficiency and need for supplements.