Science Update

New review investigates low magnesium levels on vitamin D’s effectiveness

Almost all healthcare providers know the importance of testing their patients’ vitamin D levels. When vitamin D levels are low, supplementation is recommended or the dosage is often increased. More and more we see how research demonstrates intricate interrelationships with other nutrients. In regards to vitamin D, it is important to maintain optimal levels of this vitamin, as well as all the fat soluble vitamins, but one cannot forget about magnesium.

According to a review published this month in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers identified that vitamin D cannot be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels. Interestingly, magnesium is one of the most common nutrients deficiencies, similar to vitamin D. If an individual is deficient in magnesium, vitamin D will remain stored and inactive.

It is important to assess the nutrient status of all individuals and address accordingly, as deficiencies in magnesium and vitamin K can contribute to vascular calcification.

According to this new review, individuals with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve optimal vitamin D levels. It is also important to remember that magnesium makes up 50% of bone and helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Therefore, a deficiency in either of these nutrients is associated with numerous conditions, such as musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome.

The standard American diet contains only about 50% of the magnesium required for normal function. This can be attributed to industrialized agriculture and changes in dietary habits. Magnesium levels are low in individuals who consume processed foods high in refined grains, fat, and sugar.

Optimizing magnesium levels in each patient may help to lower the risk of vitamin D deficiencies. Foods high in magnesium include nuts, beans, eggs, green vegetables, and seeds. Most individuals require supplementation of 300-500 mg daily to achieve sufficient intracellular levels of magnesium. In individuals whose levels do not increase, supplementation with glutathione will often correct this.

This review was a great example of the interplay between nutrients and their impact on health and disease. Along this same line, last week I shared a study from 2016 that demonstrated that B vitamins had no effect on cognitive decline when omega-3 levels are low. However, when omega-3 levels are in an upper normal range, B vitamins slow cognitive decline and brain atrophy.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS


Source: Anne Marie Uwitonze, Mohammed S. Razzaque. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2018; 118 (3): 181 DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2018.037