The human body is complex and unique, though we all require the essential vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning properly. We tend to often hear about and pair together vitamin D and calcium when we’re trying to optimize our health, more specifically when we’re focused on bone health. There are tons of food items fortified with vitamins D and calcium because we know that these two nutrients work well together. It can be difficult to get vitamin D through diet alone, lucky for us our bodies can can create vitamin D from sunlight; vitamin D is extremely important for many processes and functions in the body. Regarding calcium, vitamin D helps the body more effectively absorb calcium via the small intestines to promote stronger, healthier bones.
However, calcium is not the only important mineral that is affected by the levels of vitamin D in our bodies; other minerals like copper, zinc, cobalt, and magnesium are all absorbed differently depending on our vitamin D levels. More specifically, the less popular combination of vitamin D and magnesium may not be front and center for health, but nonetheless just as important if not more.
What does magnesium do in the body?
Magnesium is a mineral that is required for essentially every function in the body; necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions. Magnesium is required for…
- Muscle & nerve function
- Keeping a healthy & steady heartbeat
- Brain development & memory
- Healthy blood glucose levels
- Aiding in energy production
- Keeping the immune system healthy
- Aiding in bone health
How does magnesium affect vitamin D?
Magnesium actually helps vitamin D bind to its target protein allowing it to be metabolized. Research published in American Journal of Osteopathic Medicine publication shows that when magnesium levels are low, vitamin D cannot be metabolized properly.
We know that vitamin D is important for absorption of calcium, so if magnesium is low then the body does not metabolize vitamin D, which in turn does not allow us to properly absorb calcium and phosphate in the small intestines.
This can actually be detrimental to your health by increasing the levels calcium and phosphate in the body due to the fact that vitamin D is not available to help metabolize these two necessary minerals. Calcium and phosphate then may build up in the blood stream with kidney stones being an end result.
Vitamin D, magnesium, and the immune health
In addition to magnesium being a necessary cofactor for enzymes that metabolize vitamin D for bone health, magnesium and vitamin D play a role in our immune health too.
As with vitamin D and calcium, if our bodies are deficient in magnesium then our bodies will not properly metabolize the vitamin D needed to carryout other necessary functions & support systems of the body like our immune system.
Vitamin D plays a role in modulating the innate and adaptive immune system. This fat soluble vitamin essentially “turns on” white blood cells like B cells and T cells (a.k.a lymphocytes) to help fight pathogens as well helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body. When we’re lacking in magnesium, our bodies aren’t able to utilize the proper amounts of vitamin D necessary to activate our killer cells (white blood cells) to go about and attack the foreign microbes spreading and causing damage to our body. Additionally, because of low magnesium, vitamin D also cannot do its job in regards to helping counteract excess inflammation caused by our immune response. What you’re left with is a weakened immune system trying to combat the unwelcomed invaders and excess inflammation which can trigger unhealthy amount of oxidative stress.
It should also be noted that many people who are magnesium deficient often suffer from Adrenal Insufficiency, for adrenaline keeps magnesium in suspension.
How to get more magnesium into the diet?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is found in foods like leafy greens like spinach, nuts such as almonds, whole grains, beans, and more.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the daily recommended amount of magnesium for adult men is 400-420 mg and for adult women between 310-320 mg. Typically, you don’t have to worry about getting too much magnesium in your diet because the body will flush any excess, but magnesium toxicity can affect some, so its always best to speak with your PCP before upping your intake of magnesium whether through diet or magnesium supplementation.
Getting your daily recommended intake of all nutrients through diet each day is ideal. When you’re unable to meet the daily requirements its OK to supplement. Just know that heavy focus on one vitamin or mineral, without direction of your PCP, may lead to imbalance and actually cause problems. Like with vitamin D and magnesium, when you’re upping your intake of vitamin D without proper amounts of magnesium, you may not be absorbing any vitamin D at all which leads to a number of troubles including an unhealthy and weak immune system.