Are you getting enough vitamin D? If you don’t take magnesium, you may not be absorbing your “D”

In order to have enough of vitamin D in the body, you must take an adequate amount of magnesium, according to a study published in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Researchers from the University of Rwanda College of Medicine & Health Sciences and Harvard University collaborated for the study in order to examine the role of magnesium in the activation and function of vitamin D.

The researchers found that vitamin D will not metabolize properly and can remain stored and inactive within the body without sufficient magnesium. They explained that magnesium allows vitamin D to be transformed into a usable form within the body. They further explained that magnesium is needed for the two-stage process within the liver and kidneys which converts vitamin D into its biologically active form 1,24-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]2D). Likewise, the activity of the vitamin D binding protein, which is responsible for transport of the vitamin in the blood, also relies on magnesium. (Related: Magnesium Is Crucial to the Proper Functioning of a Healthy Body.)

“Magnesium is an essential cofactor for vitamin D synthesis and activation, and in turn, can increase intestinal absorption of magnesium and establish a feed-forward loop to maintain its homeostasis,” said study co-author Mohammed Razzaque.

Their findings are important because there is a high prevalence of magnesium deficiency. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the American population is estimated to have inadequate dietary intakes of magnesium. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 310 milligrams (mg) per day for women and 420 mg per day for men. However, in the U.S., the regular diet contains only about half of the RDA for magnesium. The Western diet is composed of processed foods that are high in refined grains, fat, phosphate, and sugar, but is low in magnesium.

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“By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on Vitamin D supplements,” Razzaque suggested.

“People are taking Vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolised. Without magnesium, Vitamin D is not really useful or safe,” added Razzaque.

Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, such as nuts like almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flaxseed, green vegetables, milk, mushrooms, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet corn, tofu, and whole grains.

However, the magnesium content of different foods has declined by around 25 to 80 percent since 1950, according to the researchers. This is a result of the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as the refining process of grains and oils that removes magnesium.

Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency

In order to determine whether you have enough magnesium or not, here is a list of some signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

  • Lack of sleep – According to studies, magnesium increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that stimulates relaxation and sleep. Thus, when magnesium levels are low, it is more difficult to stay asleep.
  • Muscle spasms – Magnesium, together with calcium, regulates muscle movement. If the body has excess calcium, but inadequate magnesium, the muscles of any part of the body can go into spasm, such as leg cramps, muscle pain, tightness, and general aches.
  • Eye twitches – One of the most common symptom of magnesium deficiency is eye twitching. This symptom related to magnesium’s ability to regulate muscle movement.
  • Irregular heartbeat – Magnesium helps maintain a normal heart rhythm. It is also sometimes administered by doctors intravenously in the hospital to lower the risk of atrial fibrillation and cardiac arrhythmia. The mineral can help in this aspect because it is involved in transporting other minerals, including calcium and potassium into cells. Thus, a deficiency in magnesium increases irregular heartbeats because it causes levels of nutrients like calcium in the blood to decline.

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