Does magnesium hold the key to vitamin D benefits?

Does magnesium hold the key to vitamin D benefits?

New research finds that magnesium may hold the key to understanding how vitamin D levels relate to health and disease.

Magnesium shavings
A recent study investigates the importance of magnesium in vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has enjoyed something of a celebrity status, receiving praise for a multitude of health benefits.

Yet, in the complex web of biological processes that govern our health, few players ever work in isolation.

New evidence shifts the focus onto magnesium, implicating it in playing a central role in determining how much vitamin D our bodies can make.

In a study that features in the December issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a research team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN concludes that optimal levels of magnesium may play an important role in the vitamin D status of an individual.

The link between magnesium and vitamin D

Dr. Qi Dai, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the lead study author, previously reported on the relationship between magnesium intake and vitamin D levels in over 12,000 individuals taking part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2006 study.

Here, Dr. Dai and team found that individuals with high levels of magnesium intake, whether from dietary sources or taking supplements, were less likely to have low levels of vitamin D.

Importantly, the researchers also found a possible association between magnesium intake and a reduction in mortality, particularly when they looked at mortality due to cardiovascular disease and bowel cancer.

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So, how does magnesium affect vitamin D biology in the body? It is a cofactor in the synthesis of vitamin D from both exposure to sunlight and dietary sources.

“Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway,” Dr. Dai explains.

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