Magnesium manages the levels of vitamin D, which in turn controls calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals. Understandably, magnesium increases bone strength. It may also lower the chances of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Clinical symptoms of magnesium deficiency include anxiety, cramping and spasmodic muscles, and tics. Latent signs of low magnesium include chronic fatigue, depression, insomnia, and migraines.
A research team from the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee recently finished a randomized clinical trial with 250 participants who were potentially vulnerable to colorectal cancer. In the 2018 experiment, they found that magnesium normalizes the levels of vitamin D in the body.
If a person has low amounts of vitamin D, supplementing with magnesium will bring it back up to normal levels. Conversely, excessive amounts of vitamin D will be lowered by magnesium treatment until it reaches healthier levels.
The study provides the first solid proof that magnesium is an important regulator of vitamin D. Its findings can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Related: Research confirms: Magnesium supplements linked to stronger muscles and bones.)
The same Vanderbilt-Ingram research team is responsible for connecting the dots between magnesium concentrations and vitamin D levels in an earlier study. Back in 2013, they gave high doses of vitamin D to a different group of patients. Some of the participants experienced an appropriate increase in vitamin levels, while others did not show such improvements.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researcher Dr. Qi Dai is the primary author and lead researcher of both studies. He explains that low levels of magnesium will disrupt the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D.
The best way to get vitamin D is by soaking up sunlight. This is difficult in regions like northern United States and Canada, where the weather limits the strength and availability of sunlight.
Perhaps half of the global population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. In the U.S. alone, two out of every five Americans are not getting enough of this vital vitamin.
Fortunately, there are other sources of vitamin D. One of the best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, as well as egg yolks and mushrooms. There are also juices and milk that are fortified with vitamin D.
Dai's co-author and fellow VUMC researcher Martha Shrubsole says that vitamin D deficiency is known to be a potential health issue that applies to a large number of Americans. It can be spotted early on through a simple blood test submitted to a healthcare provider.
"In addition to vitamin D, however, magnesium deficiency is an under-recognized issue," Shrubsole warns. "Up to 80 percent of people do not consume enough magnesium in a day to meet the recommended dietary allowance."
Risk factors for magnesium deficiency include consuming a lot of sugary food and drinks and other processed foods, and having (or suspected of having) a pre-existing condition such as Type 2 diabetes, celiac disease or other digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease.
Magnesium is considered an essential mineral. It is a critical part of numerous cellular processes and fulfills many roles in the body. It is known to improve blood pressure, support the healthy functions of the heart, and alleviate the symptoms of migraine.
"This has big implications for bone health, suggesting that taking a magnesium supplement may help people get to a desired level of vitamin D faster," comments Dr. Arielle Levitan, who is not involved with the study. "Magnesium may also facilitate the actions of vitamin D on bone health, though the data to prove an actual benefit in regards to fractures is not clearly established."