How Magnesium Affects Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D has gotten plenty of buzz in recent years, as it’s become well known that low vitamin D levels are surprisingly common. Many people now take vitamin D regularly to help maintain healthy levels when they can’t get enough sun. But there’s another common nutrient deficiency that’s often overlooked – and it can have a direct impact on your vitamin D levels.
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential macro mineral that has many important functions in the body, including some that overlap with vitamin D. Both magnesium and vitamin D are crucial for healthy calcium metabolism and bone density, and both play roles in healthy muscle function, heart health, and mood support. Unfortunately, both also make the list of most common nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies in the U.S.
Research shows that nearly half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. Too much stress may also deplete magnesium stores. Magnesium levels aren’t as easy to measure as vitamin D levels, because much of the magnesium in your body is stored in the bones, rather than in the blood. This means a magnesium deficiency can be tricky to diagnose unless it is severe. But research suggests that subclinical magnesium deficiency is widespread in the U.S., putting our long-term health at risk.
Low magnesium levels are associated with increased risks for heart health, bone health, metabolic health, and more.1 But what you might not know is that your body also needs magnesium in order to use vitamin D. Recent research shows that magnesium levels and vitamin D levels are strongly correlated. In other words, if you don’t have enough magnesium, you can’t maintain healthy vitamin D levels – no matter how much vitamin D you take.
Magnesium Makes Vitamin D Effective
Your body needs sufficient magnesium in order to metabolize and activate vitamin D. When magnesium is lacking, vitamin D remains stored and inactive in the body, making vitamin D supplements ineffective. However, those with sufficient magnesium levels need less vitamin D supplementation in order to raise their vitamin D status. One study found that simply taking magnesium, with or without vitamin D, may help improve vitamin D status and reduce the risk of vitamin D insufficiency.5
If unused vitamin D builds up in the body, it can have health risks of its own. Taking vitamin D helps increase calcium levels in the body, even when the vitamin D remains inactive. Without enough magnesium to help manage that extra calcium in the blood, there is an increased risk of calcium build up in the blood vessels.8 However, recent studies show that taking magnesium appears to help regulate vitamin D levels in the body, increasing vitamin D levels when they are low and decreasing them when they are high.7
The research is increasingly clear that if you’re going to take vitamin D, you should take it with magnesium. Because magnesium is needed to metabolize vitamin D, simply taking vitamin D increases your body’s need for magnesium. Taking high doses of vitamin D can even deplete your magnesium stores. Low magnesium status inhibits your body’s ability to use vitamin D, whether from supplements or from the sun. But increasing your magnesium intake helps optimize vitamin D levels and makes vitamin D more effective.567
Magnesium is found in leafy green veggies, whole grains, black beans, and nuts. For an extra magnesium boost, you may wish to consider a magnesium supplement, such as our Magnesium Glycinate Chelate Complex, or our Magnesium Whole Food Drink Powder.
 DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668. Erratum in: Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1):e000668corr1. PMID: 29387426; PMCID: PMC5786912.
 Rosanoff A, Weaver CM, Rude RK. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutr Rev. 2012 Mar;70(3):153-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15. PMID: 22364157.
 Razzaque MS. Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough? Nutrients. 2018 Dec 2;10(12):1863. doi: 10.3390/nu10121863. PMID: 30513803; PMCID: PMC6316205.
 Deng, X., Song, Y., Manson, J.E. et al. Magnesium, vitamin D status and mortality: results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III. BMC Med 11, 187 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-11-187
 Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018 Mar 1;118(3):181-189. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2018.037. PMID: 29480918.
 Qi Dai, Xiangzhu Zhu, JoAnn E Manson, Yiqing Song, Xingnan Li, Adrian A Franke, Rebecca B Costello, Andrea Rosanoff, Hui Nian, Lei Fan, Harvey Murff, Reid M Ness, Douglas L Seidner, Chang Yu, Martha J Shrubsole, Magnesium status and supplementation influence vitamin D status and metabolism: results from a randomized trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 108, Issue 6, December 2018, Pages 1249–1258, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy274
 American Osteopathic Association. "Low magnesium levels make vitamin D ineffective: Up to 50 percent of US population is magnesium deficient." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180226122548.htm>.
 Reddy P, Edwards LR. Magnesium Supplementation in Vitamin D Deficiency. Am J Ther. 2019 Jan/Feb;26(1):e124-e132. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000538. PMID: 28471760.