Magnesium and vitamin D – a dynamic duo?

Vitamin D has been lauded for some time, receiving praise for a multitude of health benefits, encouraging its supplementation; in comparison, magnesium has found itself the forgotten essential macro-mineral as globally we are finding ourselves increasingly magnesium deficient. But we forget at our peril that a complex interaction of biological processes governs our health and it seems that these two players, rather than work in isolation, are bound together to ensure the benefits of vitamin D. Indeed, new evidence shifts the focus onto magnesium, implicating it in playing a central role in determining how much vitamin D our bodies can make

Magnesium is one of seven essential macro-minerals (the others being calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulphur). An adequate intake of these minerals each day (at least 100 milligrams (mg)) can help prevent problems with bones, the cardiovascular system, diabetes and other functions. Magnesium also plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and the transmission of nerve impulses.

In the study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, treatment with a magnesium supplement led to an increase in vitamin D levels in people who had low levels initially, but it also reduced levels of vitamin D in those with high levels. This is important because there is an association between too much vitamin D and excess calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause serious health complications.

Good magnesium food sources: sunflower seeds, quinoa, almonds, spinach, sesame seeds, black beans, oats, prawns (shrimps), banana and whole wheat bread. Why whole wheat? Magnesium is lost as wheat is refined, so it is best to choose cereals and bread products made with whole grains.

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