Magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, is a white solid that occurs in nature as a mineral. Several hydrated and basic forms of magnesium carbonate also exist as minerals. In addition, MgCO3 has a variety of applications. Magnesium carbonate can also be synthesized by exposing a magnesium hydroxide slurry to carbon dioxide under pressure (3.5 to 5 atm) below 50 °C, which gives soluble magnesium bicarbonate:
Mg(OH)2 + 2CO2 --> Mg(HCO3)2
Magnesite and dolomite minerals are used to produce magnesium metal and basic refractory bricks. MgCO3 is also used in flooring, fireproofing, fire extinguishing compositions, cosmetics, dusting powder, and toothpaste. Other applications are as filler material, smoke suppressant in plastics, a reinforcing agent in neoprene rubber, drying agent, a laxative to loosen the bowels, and color retention in foods. In addition, high purity magnesium carbonate is used as antacid and as an additive in table salt to keep it free flowing. Magnesium carbonate is fortunately both very safe and extremely abundant. It can be acquired easily and cheaply and is relatively safe to handle as long as one is careful not to get it in the eyes, where it is an irritant. Flushing the eyes with water is recommended. Magnesium carbonate can be toxic, but must be ingested in very large amounts for any ill effects to be seen.
Before taking magnesium carbonate make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- if you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding
- if you suffer from kidney problems
- if you suffer from hypophosphataemia (too few phosphates in your blood)
- if you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine
- if you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines
How to Take Magnesium carbonate
- Take your medication exactly as directed by your doctor.
- Always read the manufacturer's information leaflet, if possible, before beginning treatment.
- To prevent indigestion, magnesium carbonate is usually taken between meals and at bedtime.
- Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else has taken an overdose of magnesium carbonate contact your doctor or go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Always take the container with you, if possible, even if it is empty.
- This medicine is for you. Never give it to others even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Can Magnesium carbonate cause problems?
This medicine is unlikely to cause any side effects except for an upset tummy, diarrhoea and occasional belching (excess wind). If these becomes too troublesome or if you experience any other worrying symptoms, which you think may be due to this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.