The mineral that helps you master your vitamin D levels

Optimizing your vitamin and mineral levels is a bit like walking a tightrope. If you take a minor slip in either direction, you’ve got problems… sometimes, serious ones.

When it comes to vitamin D, most people tend to slip into deficiency. About 42 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Whereas, vitamin D toxicity is relatively rare.

Still, with so many people playing with their vitamin D levels nowadays (getting tests, taking supplements, etc.), wouldn’t it be nice to have a vitamin D “insurance policy” that protects you from getting too little or too much?

Luckily, you already have one — magnesium.

Magnesium keeps your vitamin D levels just right

Not that long ago, I wrote about how your body needs magnesium to metabolize vitamin D. You can take all the vitamin D you want, but if you don’t have enough magnesium, you’ll still be deficient.

That’s one way magnesium optimizes your vitamin levels. But it’s not the only way…

Read: 5 vitamin D thieves and how to protect yourself

A new study shows that magnesium protects you from getting too much vitamin D too. Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that it regulates vitamin D levels, raising it in people with low levels and lowering it in people with high levels.

Pretty handy, huh?

That means magnesium also helps prevent conditions associated with getting too little or too much vitamin D, like vitamin D toxicity, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Here’s the problem…

Just like vitamin D deficiency, magnesium deficiency is rampant in the U.S. Roughly 80 percent of the population does not get the recommended daily allowance. And a lot of people are completely unaware they’re not getting enough.

Maximizing your magnesium to optimize your vitamin D

How do you know if you’re getting enough to support healthy vitamin D levels?

Well, the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. You can start keeping track of how much you’re getting daily by reading food labels and researching the magnesium content of whole foods.

If you track your magnesium intake for a few weeks and find that you’re not getting enough, it’s time to up your intake.

Now, you don’t need to take a supplement to get more. There are plenty of foods that can provide you with lots of healthy, easily-absorbed magnesium. Here are some magnesium-rich foods you can add to your diet to optimize your vitamin D levels:

  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cashews
  • Egg yolk
  • Fish oil
  • Flaxseed
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans (organic)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet corn
  • Tofu
  • Whole grains
  • Dark chocolate

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  1. Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status — MedicalXpress
  2. Magnesium status and supplementation influence vitamin D status and metabolism: results from a randomized trialAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  3. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adultsNutrition Research
  4. What is vitamin D toxicity, and should I worry about it since I take supplements? — Mayo Clinic


Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and