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Long-term use of over-the-counter laxatives can teach your bowel to rely on these medicines, and can eventually cause constipation rather than relieve it. Some types of laxatives cause a staining of the bowel walls; some doctors think overuse of these types can lead to colon cancer. There can be problems with heart rhythm due to loss of fluids and electrolytes in very severe cases (where someone is taking laxatives multiple times a day) Obviously, severe weight loss can occur as well. Regular use of some laxatives (Correctol, Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint) may interfere with your body's absorption of vitamin D and calcium; this can weaken your bones.
Here is a common question. "I have been dependent on laxatives for some time now. I want to stop but every time I do I become so constipated I have to start taking laxatives again. How can I get my body back on track?"
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Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Colon: The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.
Constipation: Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.
Electrolyte: An element or compound that, when melted or dissolved in water or other solvent, breaks up into ions and is able to carry an electric current.
Laxative: A substance (food, herb, chemical) that stimulates evacuation of the bowels. Examples include cascara sagrada, senna, castor oil, aloe vera, bisacodyl, phenolphthalein and many others.
Over-The-Counter: A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.
Potassium: A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.
Vitamin D: A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.