Without Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Backfire
Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, is a component necessary for the activation of vitamin D, and without sufficient amounts of it, your body cannot properly utilize the vitamin D you’re taking.
This may actually help explain why many need rather high doses of vitamin D to optimize their levels — it could be that they simply have insufficient amounts of magnesium in their system to activate the vitamin D. As noted by co-author Mohammed Razzaque, professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania:
“People are taking vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, vitamin D is not really useful. 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.”
Without Additional Magnesium, Vitamin D Supplementation May Be Ineffective
According to this scientific review, as many as 50 percent of Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit, as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form. As reported in the press release by the American Osteopathic Association:
“… [C]onsumption of vitamin D supplements can increase a person’s calcium and phosphate levels even if they remain vitamin D deficient. The problem is people may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren’t high enough to prevent the complication. Patients with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels …
Deficiency in either of these nutrients is reported to be associated with various disorders, including skeletal deformities, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome. While the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for males and 320 mg for females, the standard diet in the United States contains only about 50 percent of that amount. As much as half of the total population is estimated to be consuming a magnesium-deficient diet.”
Higher Magnesium Intake Lowers Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency
Indeed, previous research has indicated that higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency — likely by activating more of it. As noted in one 2013 study:
“Magnesium plays an essential role in the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation substantially reversed the resistance to vitamin D treatment in patients with magnesium-dependent vitamin-D-resistant rickets … High intake of total, dietary or supplemental magnesium was independently associated with significantly reduced risks of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency respectively.
Intake of magnesium significantly interacted with the intake of vitamin D in relation to risk of both vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Additionally, the inverse association between total magnesium intake and vitamin D insufficiency primarily appeared among populations at high risk of vitamin D insufficiency.
Furthermore, the associations of serum 25(OH)D with mortality, particularly due to cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, were modified by magnesium intake, and the inverse associations were primarily present among those with magnesium intake above the median. Our preliminary findings indicate it is possible that magnesium intake alone or its interaction with vitamin D intake may contribute to vitamin D status.”
Vitamin D Lowers Mortality Risk Associated With Heart Disease
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is vital for the prevention of many diseases, including but not limited to Type 2 diabetes, age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and well over a dozen different types of cancer (including skin cancer). Vitamin D also exhibits its infection-fighting abilities in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, and flu.
Studies have also linked higher vitamin D levels with lowered mortality from all causes.9,10,11 Most recently, a Norwegian study12 published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found “a normal intake of vitamin D” significantly reduces your risk of death if you have cardiovascular disease.
About 4,000 patients diagnosed with stable angina pectoris (chest pain caused by coronary heart disease) were followed for 12 years. The average age at the outset of the study was 62. Overall, those with vitamin D blood levels between 16.8 and 40 ng/mL (42 to 100 nmol/L) had the lowest mortality risk.
Vitamin D Levels Below 20 ng/mL Are Inadequate for Optimal Health
Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL have repeatedly been shown to raise your risk for a number of other problems as well, including depression and Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests 20 ng/mL is not even adequate for the prevention of osteomalacia (softening of your bones).
In the case of depression, having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/mL will raise your risk by as much as 85 percent, compared to having a level above 30 ng/mL, and evidence suggests vitamin D deficiency may be a significant driver of the rise we see in both mood and mental disorders such as psychotic and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
As for diabetes, an analysis by GrassrootsHealth reveals people with a median vitamin D level of 41 ng/mL have a diabetes rate of 3.7 per 1,000, whereas those with a median serum level of just 22 ng/mL have a diabetes rate of 9.3 per 1,000. In other words, raising your level above 40 ng/mL can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
THE ROLE OF VITAMIN D IN DISEASE PREVENTION
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
HOW VITAMIN D PERFORMANCE TESTING CAN HELP OPTIMIZE YOUR HEALTH
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. Dr. Robert Heaney is the research director of GrassrootsHealth and is part of the design of the D*action Project as well as analysis of the research findings.
GrassrootsHealth shows how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.