Researchers investigated the association between magnesium and vitamin D level and how this may influence diseases.
Magnesium is an essential macromineral needed in large quantities in the body. It has many health benefits, however, many people do not routinely take magnesium supplements, unlike vitamin D, which is widely known and recommended by physicians. Magnesium supplementation has been largely overlooked.
Magnesium helps to maintain nerve function, muscle function, regulate heartbeat, immune system, regulate blood sugar, helps maintain strong bones and improve energy production from proteins. Magnesium can also improve sleep quality and prevent migraines.
Sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and fruits such as figs, avocado, banana, and raspberries. Other sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Other magnesium-rich food also includes black chocolate, seafood, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts.
On average, it is recommended that men need about 400mg of magnesium per day and women require 300mg per day. It is worthy to note that food rich in high in protein, calcium, or vitamin D have been established to increase the demand for magnesium in the body.
Vitamin D may need magnesium to be effective
Previous studies have shown that magnesium affects the enzymes that activate vitamin D, implying that vitamin D needs magnesium to be effective. Low levels of magnesium have also been linked to low vitamin D levels. Some other studies demonstrated that magnesium deficiency can inhibit the production of vitamin D in the body.
There has been a lot of controversy about the role of magnesium and vitamin D in relation to bone health, cancer, and heart disease. Their role in preventing colorectal cancer has been widely debated amongst researchers. Because of this, the researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the United States wanted to know if magnesium supplements can regulate vitamin D levels and optimize their effects in cancer prevention.
How does magnesium affect vitamin D levels?
In a new randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigated the association between magnesium and vitamin D level and how this may influence diseases. The researchers included 180 participants from the Personalized Prevention of Colorectal Cancer Trial (PPCCT), who may be at risk of developing colorectal cancers. The participants were randomly grouped into two groups.
The first half was treated with various doses of magnesium supplements customized based on their baseline dietary intake of magnesium, while the other half was given a placebo identical to the magnesium capsules. They measured the various levels of vitamin D metabolites in their blood while on the treatment.
Magnesium optimizes vitamin D
The results revealed that magnesium supplements interacted with the circulating vitamin D in the blood by increasing the levels of active vitamin D when the vitamin D levels were low. When the vitamin D levels were already high, the magnesium supplements decreased the active vitamin D levels. This was thought to be due to the effect of magnesium on the enzymes involved in vitamin D production in the body.
This study demonstrated the ability of magnesium to regulate active vitamin D such that, it can increase active vitamin D level when it is deficient in the blood and decreases it when it is too much thereby, preventing vitamin D deficiency or toxicity depending on the situation. It does suggest that the level of active vitamin D in the body is directly dependent on the amount of magnesium.
The researchers concluded that magnesium has a significant role in optimizing vitamin D levels and can help in preventing disease conditions related to vitamin D concentration hence the importance of this study.
Therefore, magnesium supplementation cannot be overlooked, especially in people who do not meet the dietary daily requirements of magnesium. The researchers also suggested that more studies need to be conducted since magnesium is widely under-consumed and supplementation is under-prescribed.
Written by Ijeoma C. Izundu, MBBS
- Qi Dai, Xiangzhu Z, JoAnn M. Yiqing S, Xingnan L, Adrian F, Rebecca C, Andrea R, Hui N, et al. Magnesium status and supplementation influence vitamin D status and metabolism: results from a randomized trial.
- Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status [Internet]. EurekAlert!. 2019 [cited 4 January 2019]. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/vumc-ssm121318.php
- Minerals: MedlinePlus [Internet]. Medlineplus.gov. 2019 [cited 4 January 2019]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/minerals.html
- 12 Everyday Foods Which Contain Magnesium [Internet]. HuffPost Australia. 2019 [cited 4 January 2019]. Available from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/07/10/what-foods-contain-magnesium_a_23024245/