Magnesium powder is a finely ground form of the mineral magnesium. In its pure form, magnesium powder is highly combustible and is often used in pyrotechnics. When combined with citrate, to make magnesium citrate powder, it is used as a medicine or dietary supplement. The powder is mixed with water and then taken orally in order to relieve gastrointestinal discomfort or to improve general mental and physical heath. Medical magnesium powder may also be taken in the form of a capsule.
The most common use for magnesium citrate powder is to relieve pain or discomfort in the stomach or intestinal tract. Magnesium citrate is an ionic salt that is formed when citric acid and magnesium chemically react with one another. When swallowed, this compound pulls extra water into the digestive tract, which helps to relieve the symptoms of constipation. As long as there is no severe pain or vomiting, it is generally safe for patients to take this type of magnesium powder in small doses. Doctors may also prescribe this medicine in order to completely empty out a patient's digestive tract before surgery or colonoscopy.
Though the relief of constipation is the most common use for magnesium citrate powder, it may also be used as a supplement to promote overall good health. Taken regularly, this powder is believed to aid in digestion, improve mood, and assist in the metabolism of calcium. Though these claims have not been officially verified, it is considered generally safe for both children and adults to take this supplement in small doses. Diarrhea is a common side effect of taking a magnesium powder supplement, however, so care should be taken to avoid dehydration.
Patients taking magnesium citrate powder should follow the dosage instructions carefully. Taking too much of this medication can lead to severe diarrhea which can seriously sicken a patient. It is also important not to take this medicine if there are severe gastrointestinal problems, such as bleeding, vomiting, or sharp pain, as it could make the problem worse.
Aside from its medical use when combined with citrate, magnesium powder, in its pure form, can be set on fire. When ignited, the magnesium produces a bright, white light that gives off a great deal of ultraviolet radiation. It is commonly included in fireworks and has been used historically as a weapon due to the fact that magnesium powder is difficult to extinguish once it is burning.