Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: Magnesium or calcium
As an electrolyte, magnesium plays an important role, along with and calcium, in muscle contraction. “Getting what you need can make a world of difference,” says Small. She recommends food sources such as pumpkin seeds, bananas, and avocados for magnesium. As for calcium, fortified non-dairy milk often contains more than its cow milk counterpart. If you’re thinking of popping supplements instead of looking for food sources, keep in mind that some vitamins are a waste of money—and can even be dangerous.
Tatiana Ayazo/Rd.com, shutterstock Possible deficiency: Fiber and magnesium
Being backed up (having fewer than three bowel movements per week) has at least a dozen possible causes. One that’s common: a lack of fiber in the diet. In fact, adults consume just about half of the recommended 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women daily. Magnesium also plays a role in moving stool along, says Wagner. Along with eating more magnesium-rich foods, you may also consider a 120 mg supplement of magnesium citrate and increasing until regularity improves, she advises. And don’t forget the fiber. Good choices include lentils, broccoli, and apples. These are the warning signs your vitamin supplements aren’t going to work.