The Vitamin D - Magnesium Connection

Magnesium is one of the most, if not the most, utilized minerals in the entire body. It acts as a cofactor for over 300 "known" biochemical reactions, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation just to name a few.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It is not present in many foods. Our bodies can create plenty of vitamin D through sun exposure or supplementation. Vitamin D is another very critical vitamin to our bodies and mind running optimally and is a highly versatile vitamin.

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D. Many cells have vitamin D receptors.

It's estimated that one billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Worse yet, studies have shown that nearly 75% or people have low or inadequate Magnesium levels.

The concern is the combination of rock bottom intracellular magnesium “and” low vitamin D levels.

It is important to know that if you have a low vitamin D level in spite of taking it, a magnesium deficiency can be one of the reasons you can't correct it.

Magnesium levels in the first quintile (lower 20% of reference range) or below that, could make you a victim of a fatal heart attack.

The following represents the quintile ranking. You want to see your intracellular magnesium in the 5th quintile.

In addition to increasing your intracellular magnesium levels to the 5th quintile, I recommend working on increasing your vitamin D levels to 75 nmol/L or more.

Don't accept a level of less than 50 nmol/L. It is simply insufficient to support good health. The most current medical literature has shown that 5000IU per day is safe. You can even go as high as 10,000 IU.

It is sad to see that many physicians are still recommending 400IU per day. This is out-dated information. This level is only for preventing a disease called rickets. 

Much higher levels of vitamin D are needed for prevention and healing diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, depression, recurrent infections, dental problems, etc.

So the take away is make sure you have your physician test your intracellular magnesium levels in conjunction with vitamin D levels.

By the way, I mean intracellular NOT serum magnesium. This is commonly ordered on a basic blood test.

The following are two good labs that offer the intracellular magnesium: (Genova/Metametrix) (DoctorsData)


Hanley DA, et al, Symposium: Vitamin D insufficiency: A significant risk factor for chronic diseases and potential disease-specific biomarkers of vitamin D sufficiency, J Nutr. 135:332-7, 2005

Vieth R, et al, Efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 intake exceeding the lowest observed adverse effect level, Am J Clin Nutr 73:288-94, 2003

Hollis BW, Circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels indicative of vitamin D sufficiency: implications for establishing a new effective dietary intake recommendation for vitamin D, J Nutr 135:317-22, 2005

Chapuy MC, et al, Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in an adult normal population, Osteoporosis International 7:439-43, 1997

Thomas MK, et al, Hypovitaminosis D in medical in-patients, New Engl J Med, 338:777-83, 1998

Rude RK, et al, Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency, J Am Coll Nutr 28; 2:131-41, 2009


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