The mineral deficiency deactivating your vitamin D

When your vitamin D levels dip, your disease risk surges. You’re more at risk for autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

So hopefully you’re getting out in the sun or taking a vitamin D supplement daily.

But even if you’re doing your due diligence where vitamin D’s concerned, there could be one thing standing in the way of optimum vitamin D levels and better health…

Low magnesium levels.

A new research review found that low magnesium levels are likely interfering with a lot of Americans’ vitamin D absorption. Why?

Your body can’t metabolize vitamin D if it doesn’t have enough magnesium. It just gets stored in your body and goes to waste.

So if you’re using vitamin D to manage your disease risk, it’s time to throw some magnesium into the mix pronto…

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The magnesium-vitamin D connection

A recent review of the available research on vitamin D and magnesium published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association estimates that as many as 50 percent of Americans have vitamin D stored in their body, because their magnesium levels aren’t high enough to metabolize it.

Why are so many Americans short on magnesium?

Researchers say it’s due to diet. You see, magnesium is plentiful in healthy fresh foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. But it’s not so plentiful in processed foods that contain refined grains, sugar and trans-fats. And that’s what a lot of Americans eat.

Related: The vitamin D link to defeating disease

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 420 mg for men and 320 mg for women. But people eating a standard American diet only get about half that much.

Your body needs magnesium to metabolize vitamin D, because all of the enzymes that process the vitamin use magnesium to do their job.

According to researchers, that’s why people who have low magnesium levels struggle to get their vitamin D levels within a healthy range even when they take supplements.

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How to get your magnesium and vitamin D

Does that mean you need to take a magnesium supplement with your vitamin D supplement?

Not necessarily. You just need to eat a healthier diet. Magnesium is found in so many healthy and delicious foods that getting enough should be a piece of cake (or fruit). Here are some foods you can eat to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium to activate your disease-fighting D:

Related: A novel way to boost your magnesium

If you’re taking a vitamin D3 supplement, you may also want to take a K2 supplement. K2 can help curb a condition called vascular calcification, where calcium builds up in your blood vessels. This can happen when you’re getting a lot of vitamin D or calcium, but your body isn’t absorbing it properly.

In fact, many supplements on the market nowadays contain vitamin D3 and K2 combined, making it easy to get both in one daily pill. Or you can eat foods that contain K2, like fermented foods, dairy products and meat. A Japanese dish called natto, made from fermented soybeans is one of the best sources of K2, so give that a try.


  1. Researchers find low magnesium levels make vitamin D ineffective — MedicalXpress. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  2. M. Uwitonze, BDT, MS; M. S. Razzaque, MBBS, PhD “Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function.” — The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2018, V. 118, 181-189
  3. Zittermann, et al. “Vitamin D and vascular calcification.” — Current Opinion in Lipidology. Feb 2007;18(1):41-6.
  4. Foods Rich in Vitamin K2 — San Francisco Chronicle SFGate. Retrieved February 26, 2018.


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