Our bodies require a range of vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy balance and keep us in good shape. Some of those – such as vitamin D and magnesium – have strong bonds and work together. Here is how vitamin D and Magnesium impact the body when taken together.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” as the body generates it via exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays. It’s also found in a range of foods such as mushrooms, eggs, and fatty fish, but only in small amounts in others. Getting enough vitamin D is important for bone health as it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, but it also has a role in maintaining overall health.
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What Is Magnesium?
Meanwhile, magnesium is responsible for a range of bodily functions, such as regulating blood pressure and supporting muscle and nerve function, amongst many more. It’s known that magnesium influences over 300 metabolic and enzymatic reactions, says Deeptha Sukumar at the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University. Contrary to vitamin D, it is possible to attain sufficient magnesium through your diet by eating plenty of foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and fatty fish to boost intake.
“What is super interesting is that there is an interaction between vitamin D and magnesium,” Sukumar said. “One of those enzymes that’s dependent on magnesium activates vitamin D in the body.”
How Do Vitamin D and Magnesium Work Together?
Essentially, magnesium is required for vitamin D to function, and this partnership means that the body needs both in adequate amounts to function well and remain healthy. “It is therefore essential that the recommended amount of magnesium is consumed to obtain the optimal benefits of vitamin D,” notes a study published in 2018.
Yet vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies can be common; one study suggests that as many as half of all Americans are deficient in the latter. It’s recommended that men should consume between 400 and 420mg of magnesium daily, while women should aim for 310 to 320mg.
How To Prevent Vitamin D and Magnesium Deficiencies
Supplements are one route to tackle this problem. Vitamin D supplements are often recommended in winter for those living in northern latitudes when exposure to the sun is limited. Magnesium supplements are currently all the rage and are creating a social media buzz, with advocates arguing they can assuage all kinds of medical maladies, including anxiety and mental illness.
Experts underline, however, that supplements should be taken with caution and follow medical advice.
“Just because you think you are deficient, don’t start supplementing yourself,” Sukumar said. Vitamin D levels can be easily assessed with a simple blood test. Though this is not the case for magnesium, as only small amounts are contained in the blood. One way to assess your intake would be looking at your diet and consuming plenty of magnesium-rich foods, she added.
Why You Should be Cautious with Supplements
Jumping straight to supplements could cause its own health problems if they are taken unnecessarily or in too high a dosage. Too much magnesium can lead to a range of consequences, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea. Vitamin D, meanwhile, is fat-soluble, meaning that the body stores it to draw from stocks when needed.
In the event that a vitamin D deficiency is indicated supplements may be required and research suggests that dual supplementation with magnesium can be beneficial.
“Our research shows that instead of just using vitamin D if you take it with magnesium, you might achieve better results,” Sukumar said. Her research group focused on obese and overweight people, who are often at risk of vitamin D deficiencies. In such cases, high-dose vitamin D supplementation is often given, but results from her trial suggested that a dual supplementation of both vitamin D and magnesium actually worked best. “I believe that as magnesium influences vitamin D at the level of the biochemical pathway, these findings will be applicable to other populations as well.”
“Typically, when you are diagnosed with a low vitamin D level, I think the best way would be for you to get supplemented to be able to raise your levels to within a normal range,” Sukumar added. “And then continue with healthy lifestyle practices, like being outdoors more and consuming foods that are rich in vitamin D and magnesium.”
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