Vitamin D Needs Magnesium to be Metabolized

 In Naturopathic News

Node Smith, ND

A recent review reminds us that many vitamins and minerals work synergistically. The specific 2 of this study are Vitamin D and magnesium. The study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, concludes that Vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels. The study estimates that this could mean that Vitamin D remains stored in an inactive form in as many as 50 percent of Americans.

More than 300 enzymatic processes require magnesium

Over 300 enzymatic processes require magnesium, and it has been theorized that many people, while perhaps not deficient enough in the mineral to show overt signs of disease, have low enough levels to affect physiologic function. The dysfunctional Vitamin D metabolism revealed in this study is merely one of these effects of a low magnesium status.

Without magnesium, taking vitamin D supplements is not useful or safe, according to lead author

The lead author, Mohammed S. Razzaque, MBBS, PhD, points out that “people are taking Vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, Vitamin D is not really useful or safe.” The study explains how consumption of Vitamin D can increase calcium and phosphate levels while Vitamin D levels remain at deficient levels – this may lead to the negative effects of Vitamin D over supplementation, including calcification of vasculature.

Individuals with optimum magnesium levels need less vitamin D

The study points out that individuals with optimum magnesium levels actually need less Vitamin D supplementation. The current daily recommended allowance for magnesium is 420 mg/ 320 mg (male/female), however the standard American diet misses this mark by about 50 percent. Deficiency in either magnesium or Vitamin D is associated with many disorders including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal complaints and deformities, metabolic syndrome and certain mental health complaints such as anxiety and depression.

Magnesium consumption suffers due to reduced mineral content of fruits and vegetables

Magnesium consumption is lower simply because the mineral content of fruits and vegetables is lower, due to industrialized agricultural practices. In addition, diets high in processed foods, refined grains, fat and sugar tend to provide an inadequate amount of magnesium. Foods high in magnesium include: bananas, beans, oatmeal, mushrooms, tofu, whole grains, almonds, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flaxseed, green vegetables, milk, other nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and sweet corn.


  1. Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2018;118(3):181-189.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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