The 7 Best Supplements for Constipation of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Find relief with the right type, dose, and ingredients

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Constipation is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. In fact, there are at least 2.5 million doctor visits for constipation in the U.S. each year. Everybody has a different rhythm when it comes to bowel movements; however, constipation is often marked by one or more of the following symptoms: fewer than three bowel movements a week, stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy, stools that are difficult or painful to pass, or a feeling that not all stool has passed.

Optimal digestive health is influenced by various lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, hydration, and stress. One reason for the high rates of constipation in this country is that the average American only consumes about 50% of the recommended daily intake of fiber (the recommended daily intake is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men each day). For those who do not have a varied diet, reaching adequate amounts of fiber can be done through supplements; however, even achieving optimal fiber intake does not always relieve constipation.

There are additional ways to ameliorate constipation when fiber and adequate hydration are not doing the trick. Natural teas like senna leaf and even some functional foods like chia seeds can move things along. It is important to speak to a physician or registered dietitian about ways to modify your lifestyle before resorting to supplements.

What to Look for in a Supplement for Constipation

Type of Supplements

There are different types of supplements used to combat constipation, including fiber supplements and supplements with natural laxative effects. When it comes to constipation, both insoluble and soluble fibers are important and each has its own unique properties. In some cases, fiber might not be enough to help get things moving. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine which type of supplement is best for your needs. 

Not all supplements are created equal. The right supplement for you depends on your goals, medical history, budget, and dietary needs. Remember, supplements are meant to be added to already nourishing diets and should never take the place of real foods.

Dose

The dose of fiber ranges among products and it is important to consult with your health care provider about the appropriate product and dosage for your individual needs. Follow the dosage instructions recommended by your healthcare provider or the product they recommend. In general, for fiber supplements, it is best to start with a low dose and increase fiber gradually, with extra fluids.

Ingredients

In general, it is best to keep the ingredient list as small as possible. Doing so ensures that there are no potentially harmful or irritating ingredients added like artificial colors or preservatives. Some products are allergy-friendly while others may not be. In addition, there are products that may contain additional or complementary ingredients. Consult with your doctor or dietitian when checking ingredient labels.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

Here, our top recommendations for constipation supplements:

Best Overall: Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber checks all the boxes you could want in a constipation-fighting supplement. Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and kosher-certified, this is a high-quality, best all-around product. 

This fiber-packed product is made with optimal gut health in mind. Formulated with an organic prebiotic fiber blend. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the gut, support a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and may boost immunity. One tablespoon provides 5 grams of fiber (4 grams of soluble fiber and 1 gram of insoluble fiber). It dissolves easily in water without thickening or leaving a gritty residue.

Best Budget: Organic India Psyllium Herbal Powder, Whole Husk Fiber

Organic India Psyllium Herbal Powder

Organic India’s Psyllium Herbal Powder is a non-GMO, vegan-friendly product containing 4 grams of fiber per serving. One serving (1 tablespoon) provides 3 grams of soluble fiber and 1 gram of insoluble fiber.

Simply add 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk to a ten-ounce glass of water—or your favorite beverage—and drink immediately. If left in liquid for a while, the psyllium mixture will become thick and gel-like thanks to the soluble fiber. For an even tastier option, try adding one serving to your favorite smoothie or overnight oats. 

Good to Know


When increasing your fiber intake, it is important to increase the amount of water you consume during the day. If you're not consuming enough water with fiber-rich foods and fiber supplements, you are more likely to become dehydrated, which can worsen constipation.


Best Magnesium: Natural Vitality Calm Magnesium Supplement

Magnesium is best known for regulating the nervous system, but certain forms such as magnesium citrate can also have a laxative effect. Magnesium citrate works by pulling water into the intestines. This water combines with dry stool, making it easier to pass.

Natural Vitality's Calm magnesium supplement is one of the most popular magnesium supplements on the market, and for a good reason. It has won many awards, including the 2018 Better Nutrition Best of Supplements Award, 2017 VR Vity Award, 2016 Clean Eating Clean Choice Award, 2015 DL Supplement Award, 2015 TFL Essentials Award, to name a few. It is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO verified.

Natural Vitality's Calm is made from magnesium carbonate, which turns into magnesium citrate when combined with water. It is recommended to start with 1 teaspoon of this powder and increase gradually to 2 teaspoons as needed.

Best Tea: Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move Peppermint Tea

Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move Peppermint Tea

Senna tea has long been used as a natural remedy for constipation. The potent tea is named after the leaves and pods of the Cassia senna plant that contains constituents called sennosides, which stimulate your bowels to move. Traditional Medicinals Smooth Move Tea contains senna and is designed for overnight relief from occasional constipation.

Traditional Medicinals recommends that adults and adolescents 11 and over drink one cup once daily at bedtime. This tea is USDA Organic, Non-GMO verified, kosher, and caffeine-free.

Note that this product is meant for occasional use only. Laxative abuse can cause serious consequences. Traditional Medicinals recommend that customers consult their health care provider if still using after seven days.

Best Soluble Fiber: NOW Foods Acacia Fiber Powder

Acacia fiber is a type of soluble fiber harvested from the sap of the Acacia tree, which is native to parts of Africa, Pakistan, and India. NOW Foods Organic Acacia Fiber contains 6.5 grams of Acacia Gum Powder and no other ingredients. One level tablespoon provides 6 grams of soluble fiber, which is one-quarter of the daily recommended amount of fiber.

In addition to supporting regular bowel movements, soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like consistency that can help lower cholesterol, balance hormone levels, and improve glucose levels. Soluble fiber also acts as a prebiotic that supports the vitality of the microorganisms that help maintain a healthy gastrointestinal environment.

In addition to being organic, this product is Non-GMO verified and GMP Quality Assured, meaning that every aspect of the NOW manufacturing process has been examined and approved for quality and purity. Acacia is also naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it a great choice for those with dietary restrictions.

Best Probiotic: Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care

Probiotics may alleviate constipation by modifying the gastrointestinal microbiota. While there are many types and strains of probiotics, some evidence shows that one species of probiotic called Bifidobacterium lactis (B.Lactis) may be particularly beneficial in ameliorating constipation.

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics is an innovative line of raw, whole food probiotic formulas that emulate the benefits of eating probiotic-rich fermented food. One capsule contains 100 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) and 34 different probiotic strains, including B.Lactis. Unlike other probiotics, this product does not need to be refrigerated, so you can store it with your other supplements or medications and take it with you when traveling.

In addition to a potent blend of probiotics, one capsule also provides digestive enzymes and a raw fruit and veggie blend. Gluten-free, non-GMO verified and vegetarian with no binders, no fillers, no carriers, and no soy allergens, this product is great for those following various dietary restrictions.

Best Functional Food : Mamma Chia White Chia Seeds

 Mamma Chia White Chia Seeds

Looking for a way to help constipation naturally? Chia seeds are by far the best option if you're looking for a way to improve your gastrointestinal health and overall well-being without supplements. Packing 16% of the recommended daily intake of fiber in one tablespoon, these small but mighty seeds are also full of nutrition. One tablespoon contains 3 grams of protein, 4 grams of healthy fat, and 10% of the recommended intake of magnesium. They're an awesome addition to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt.

When chia seeds come into contact with water, they swell to about ten times their size and form a lubricating gel to help move stool through the intestines. Most of the fiber that chia seeds contain is soluble fiber, which may lower LDL cholesterol and slow digestion, promoting blood sugar stability.

Unlike traditional supplements, these seeds contain more calories than typical calorie-free or low-calorie fiber supplements. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 60 calories, so be mindful if you are watching your caloric intake.

Final Verdict

Whether you are having trouble meeting your fiber needs or want to try boosting your intake, Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber (view at Amazon) checks all the boxes. It is suitable for many dietary needs and is made with optimal gut health in mind.

FAQs

What type of fiber is best for constipation?

Insoluble and soluble fiber work against constipation in different ways. Soluble fiber adds bulk to stool, while insoluble fiber speeds up the transit time of food through the digestive tract. Because both types of fiber work against constipation, you will likely want a supplement that contains both insoluble and soluble fiber.

Which type of magnesium combats constipation?

Magnesium citrate is best known for combatting constipation, while magnesium glycinate is preferable for anxiety, stress, and sleep. Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative, meaning it pulls water into the intestines and relaxes the bowels, which can soften stool and make it easier to pass.

How do probiotics alleviate constipation?

Gut bacteria play a role in peristalsis regulation or the control of involuntary constriction and relaxation of intestinal muscles that push stool through the digestive tract. Intestinal bacteria are thought to influence factors that affect gut motility, such as short-chain fatty acids, bile acid metabolism, and enteric nervous system development. Adding a probiotic supplement to your routine may not have immediate effects; however, it may improve and alleviate constipation over time.

What Experts Say

"When it comes to constipation, there are many supplements and OTC products that can help alleviate symptoms and move things along; however, these often do not address the root cause of gastrointestinal distress. Before adding a supplement to your routine, take a look at your lifestyle to ensure you're including a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits in your diet, getting enough movement, and achieving optimal hydration levels."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to my clients but she would take them herself if needed. 

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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