Magnesium and Vitamin D – this is how they work together

Magnesium is one of the minerals we have the most of in our body (in fact it’s the fourth most common mineral), and is important for several functions of a healthy body – not least for the absorption of vitamin D.

Why do you need magnesium?

Magnesium is found in all types of cells and supports a variety of bodily functions and processes. For example, magnesium acts as a coenzyme in the burning of carbohydrates and proteins, and contributes to the absorption of other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and sodium. Magnesium also contains certain enzymes that are needed in order for B, C and E vitamins to be absorbed properly.

Magnesium plays a part in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body, which are primarily about producing and taking care of energy. In other words, magnesium is one of our most important minerals and nutrients. Below you can read more about the benefits of magnesium:

The benefits of magnesium

  • Normal nerve and muscle function: Unlike calcium, which has a muscle-tightening effect, magnesium has a muscle-relaxing effect. It is therefore important to maintain a good balance between calcium and magnesium in your body.
  • Improved performance during exercise: Magnesium increases the availability of glucose during exercise and gets rid of lactic acid after exercising. In addition, magnesium can help reduce the temporary inflammatory response that can occur after tougher workouts.
  • Better sleep: Magnesium has a relaxing effect on both body and mind and can thus contribute to better sleep. Research has also shown that magnesium is associated with increased levels of the sleep hormone melatonin and a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Regular bowel movements: Low levels of magnesium have been linked to constipation and irregular bowel movements. In other words, magnesium contributes to keeping the gut calm and your digestion regular.
  • Calmer mood: Stress and anxiety depletes the magnesium supply in your body and a lack of magnesium can, in turn, adversely affect mood. It is therefore important to consume an adequate amount of magnesium, as it lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol and activates GABA receptors which make you feel more relaxed and harmonious.
  • Balanced blood glucose levels: An adequate intake of magnesium is associated with healthy glucose levels and decreased insulin resistance.
  • Strong skeleton: Magnesium is just as important for a healthy and strong skeleton as calcium. Low levels of magnesium have also been linked to impaired bone density.
  • The gut flora: Some studies have shown that a low intake of magnesium has resulted in lower levels of the good bifidobacteria in the intestine.

Magnesium is also needed for the absorption of vitamin D

Magnesium assists in the activation of vitamin D, which helps regulate levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. Consuming large amounts of vitamin D without consuming enough magnesium can therefore cause the body’s levels of calcium and phosphate to increase and to not be absorbed into the skeleton where they belong. The calcium can then end up in the vessel walls instead, which increases the risk of calcifications in the blood vessels.

In addition, the enzymes that burn vitamin D require magnesium in order to fulfil their purpose properly. The vitamin D you consume can therefore not be utilised by the body if you have not ingested sufficient amounts of magnesium.

How do you get enough magnesium?

Magnesium deficiency is relatively uncommon but can occur in connection with certain diseases and in cases of restricted diets. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping, high blood pressure and more subtle signs such as cravings for dark chocolate and difficulty relaxing. Too much magnesium can result in diarrhea.

The daily recommended intake is 280 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men. Magnesium is found in many types of natural unprocessed raw produce (see list below), but the amount of magnesium in these foods has decreased over time due to the increased use of pesticides and fertilisers. In addition, the magnesium you consume is used up faster if you consume a lot of sugar, since it takes as many as 54 magnesium molecules to process a single sugar molecule, and the same goes for very fatty and refined foods.

Best natural sources of magnesium

  • Green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Black beans
  • Avocado
  • Dark chocolate (high cocoa content)
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Cashews
  • Bananas
  • Mushrooms
  • Oats
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

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  • American Osteopathic Association. Researchers find low magnesium levels make vitamin D ineffective. Press release 2018-02-26.
  • Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
  • The National Food Administration

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