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Inadequate magnesium levels could render your vitamin D supplement ineffective

2 min read

New research is suggesting that if you are deficient in magnesium it may render the metabolism of vitamin D supplements ineffective.

The review paper, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, suggests that without sufficient magnesium, vitamin D can remain stored and inactive within the body. 

Poor magnesium status may therefore leave individuals with a vulnerability to vitamin D related disorders such as bone disorders and cardiovascular disease. Further to this scientists also warned that inadequate magnesium may also increase the risk of vascular calcification. Vascular calcifications are mineral deposits on the walls of your arteries and veins. These mineral deposits sometimes stick to fatty deposits, or plaques, that are already built up on the walls of a blood vessel. It is highly associated with cardiovascular disease mortality.

Professor Mohammed Razzaque, study co-author, said:

"By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of Vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on Vitamin D supplements."

Vitamin D needs Magnesium to be used by the body

Magnesium is key to enabling vitamin D to be transformed into a usable form within the body - the two stage process within the liver and kidneys starts with the conversion of vitamin D into its biologically active form. This is a magnesium dependent process. Then comes activity of the vitamin D binding protein that transports vitamin D into the blood - this is also dependent on magnesium.

The relationship between magnesium and vitamin D in the body is a synergistic one - in other words they work together to help either other out. Individuals with optimum magnesium levels need less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient levels of vitamin D and those with adequate vitamin D levels experience better absorption of magnesium in the gut.

Magnesium levels in food has declined

Magnesium status is low in those who consume foods that are high in refined grains, fats, phosphate and sugar. It can be found in high amounts in foods such as almonds, milk, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and whole grains.

This being said, the magnesium content of foods including vegetables has declined by up to 75% in some cases, since 1940, due to mass production methods and the use of artificial fertilisers. This, together with the refining process of grains and oils which removes magnesium has reduced the presence of the mineral in our diets. You may be surprised to learn that you have to eat 4 carrots today to get the same amount of magnesium from 1 carrot in 1940.

A magnesium supplement provides an easy way to ensure that your magnesium levels are at their optimum and ensures that your vitamin D supplement is working as well as it should. 

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.