Are you taking vitamin D? Are you taking magnesium at the same time? Wondering what is the connection? It is a very strong connection. Let’s find out why.
You probably already know the role vitamin D in helping the body to absorb calcium and in maintaining strong, healthy bones. Emerging studies are shedding light on its other important roles and tell us that there is more to this bone-healthy vitamin. It appears vitamin D not only gives us strong bones, prevents osteoporosis and reduces the risk of fractures as we age, but it also boosts immunity and prevents many chronic ailments.
Health care providers are well aware of this. Almost every doctor routinely prescribes high doses of vitamin D. But, why is it that for some people the level of Vitamin D remains chronically low even after supplementing with mega doses?
Well, it is because most of us are using it in entirely the wrong way. It is because there is something missing, making the picture incomplete.
What most doctors won’t tell (or don’t comprehend) is that your body won’t be able to absorb vitamin D if it is low on magnesium. In yet another classic example of how nutrients don’t work alone, lets dig a little deeper into how magnesium plays an interesting role in Vitamin D metabolism.
Magnesium and Vitamin D: Synergetic workings of nutrients
Magnesium is a very important mineral involved in firing up more than 300 bio-chemical reactions in the body. This versatile mineral plays a particularly integral role in ATP (energy) production and utilization, and in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes required for maintaining healthy nerve transmission, muscle contraction and heart rhythm. It also helps the body to deal with stress. What is lesser known is that magnesium is also involved in Vitamin D production and metabolism.
- Magnesium converts Vitamin D – obtained through any source like sunlight, food or supplements – to its active form, calcitriol.
- Magnesium is also an important co-factor player for all the enzymes needed to metabolize Vitamin D.
It is simple. Today, magnesium deficiency is an even more critical issue as modern farming practices have depleted the soil of its magnesium content, which has declined significantly in the past few decades. On top of that, the modern life style of many people involves chronic stress, a prevalence of chronic diseases and a dependence on filtered water and processed foods. This has further exacerbated the situation thereby leading to chronic, wide-spread magnesium deficiency.
Since magnesium is required to convert vitamin D into an active usable form in the blood, without enough magnesium the vitamin D we do have will extract the much-needed mineral from its storage sites such as muscles and bones – leading to an even greater deficiency.
When you are already taking large doses of Vitamin D but your blood work fails to show healthy levels, it is most likely due to magnesium deficiency and not due to any vitamin D absorption problems, as popularly believed.
Another important angle to Magnesium-Vitamin D dependency is how magnesium also helps in regulating calcium levels in the body. As it is, calcium supplementation is surrounded by a lot of hype and much of it is bordering on negative with more and more studies showing that calcium supplements do more harm than good in the long-run. Excessive calcium build-up in the blood and soft tissues is not good. This abnormal calcification in the body is associated with muscle cramps, kidney stones, osteoporosis, arthritis and even hardening of arteries, one of the major risk factors for the onset and progression of cardiovascular disease.
Magnesium keeps an eye on calcium levels in the body. It allows calcium as well as potassium to enter and exit the cells when needed. It also works along with thyroid and parathyroid glands to regulate calcium levels in the blood and also keeps calcium dissolved in the blood.
Dr. Carolyn Dean further explains the role of magnesium in bone health: "It is vitally important that studies on the efficacy of vitamin D and calcium in relation to bone health are not done in isolation in the absence of magnesium. The fact that magnesium works synergistically with vitamin D and calcium by stimulating the specific hormone calcitonin—which helps to preserve bone structure and draws calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones, preventing osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and kidney stones— cannot be overlooked."
So, while the combination of calcium and vitamin D is indeed important for healthy bone building and maintenance, it is also true that this magic pair of nutrients would be without its tricks unless sufficient magnesium levels are maintained. In fact, there could be negative consequences if one keeps supplementing with vitamin D and calcium but is magnesium deficient.
Coming back to the crux of this issue, if you are taking Vitamin D, ensure you are taking magnesium too. It is important to keep the balance between these two vital nutrients, and is much more important than keeping a tab on their individual levels. Taking high doses of Vitamin D without magnesium will only lead to Vitamin D toxicity and more symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency.
- Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. Magnesium Is Crucial for Bones. The Huffington Post