If you are wondering, “Am I getting enough vitamin D?” you should also ask yourself another question: “Am I getting enough magnesium?”
In a new review article, researchers stress the importance of getting enough of this mineral, which helps metabolize, or “activate,” vitamin D so that it can be used by the body.
“People take vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how they’re metabolized,” study co-author Mohammed Razzaque, professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania, said in a statement. “Without magnesium, vitamin D is not really helpful.” [9 good sources of vitamin D to fight against disease]
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body after calcium, potassium and sodium, the researchers said. The element activates hundreds of enzymes involved in important biological reactions, including enzymes that play a role in the metabolism of vitamin D.
But many people don’t get enough magnesium – a national survey from 2005 to 2006 found that about half of all Americans don’t get enough magnesium, according to the journal. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended amount of magnesium is 400 to 420 milligrams per day for men and 310 to 320 mg per day for women.
Previous research has suggested that consuming magnesium may reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency: A 2013 study found that people who consumed relatively high levels of magnesium were less likely to have low levels of vitamin D, compared to people who did not consume enough.
People who get enough magnesium may need less vitamin D supplementation to achieve adequate vitamin D levels than if they don’t get enough magnesium, Razzaque said. “By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency,” he said.
Some studies have also shown that people with higher intakes of magnesium have higher bone mineral density and a lower risk of osteoporosis, compared to people with lower intakes of magnesium, the researchers said. However, more research is needed to see if taking magnesium supplements can prevent or treat osteoporosis, according to the NIH.
Foods rich in magnesium include almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flax seeds, green vegetables, milk , mushrooms, other nuts, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet corn, tofu and whole grains, according to the review.
It’s important to note that if people are taking magnesium supplements, they shouldn’t be consuming more than the recommended amount, which is 350 milligrams per day for adults. (This limit is for supplements only. It may be lower than the recommended daily amount because the latter includes magnesium from food as well as supplements.) Too much magnesium from dietary supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea, and cramps. abdominal; and extremely high intakes can lead to irregular heartbeats and cardiac arrest, according to the NIH.
The review was published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.