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An Overlooked Cause of Vitamin D Deficiency


You might be getting plenty of vitamin D through sun exposure and from supplements. But is your body actually absorbing it? The results of a new review suggest that there is a 50% chance that you aren’t.

It turns out that if you aren’t getting enough magnesium, your ability to metabolize vitamin D may be compromised. And since nearly half of all people in the U.S. are eating a diet deficient in magnesium, it means that vitamin D may remain stored and inactive for one out of every two Americans.

In the words of study co-author Mohammed S. Razzaque, MBBS, PhD, “People are taking vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, vitamin D is not really useful or safe.”

He explains that vitamin D supplementation can increase calcium and phosphate levels, even if a patient remains vitamin D deficient. This is problematic, since increase calcium and phosphate can lead to vascular calcification.

Study: Low Magnesium Levels Make Vitamin D Ineffective

Studies show that a deficiency in either of these two nutrients is associated with several of the same chronic diseases. These include health issues such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, skeletal disorders and even some types of cancer.

However, Razzaque notes that patients with optimum magnesium levels require less vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient vitamin D levels. Magnesium also reduces osteoporosis, helping to mitigate the risk of bone fracture associated with low levels of vitamin D.

Additionally, a combination of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation in older patients is known reduce nonvertebral fractures, overall mortality and the incidence of Alzheimer’s.

“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,” says Razzaque.

However, these days the standard U.S. diet only contains about 50% of the recommended daily magnesium intakes of 420 mg for males and 320 mg for females.

You can learn more about the study and the incredible health benefits of supplementing vitamin D with magnesium in our article Vitamin D Supplements May Be Ineffective Without Magnesium Too.

How to Get More Magnesium-Rich Foods in Your Diet

The typical American diet consists largely of meat, ultra-processed foods, refined grains, fried foods and sugary beverages. None of these foods contain appreciable amounts of magnesium.

Still, there are plenty of fresh, magnesium-rich foods that you can enjoy daily. Many of them make great snacks. Others make wholesome additions to your meals.

Some foods high in magnesium include almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flaxseed, green vegetables, milk, mushrooms, other nuts, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet corn, tofu and whole grains.


Researchers Find Low Magnesium Levels Make Vitamin D Ineffective. News Release. American Osteopathic Association. Feb 2018.

Rosanoff A, et al. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64.

Rosanoff A, et al. Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Status Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium Status? Adv Nutr. 2016 Jan 15;7(1):25-43.

Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”

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