Written by Elliot Reimers
Elliot received his B.Sc. in Biology/Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota; he is thoroughly passionate and educated about the science behind human physiology, nutrition, & dietary supplementation. He is a published author on many mainstream fitness/health media sites.
Much of the vitamin D we obtain comes from direct exposure to sunlight, thus spending a significant amount of time indoors (and away from sunlight) can lead to low levels of vitamin D in the body. Thus, supplementation with vitamin D can help ensure users obtain adequate amounts of this key micronutrient. It is imperative that oral supplementation of vitamin D come in the form of D3; this is most bioavailable form of vitamin D, maximizing its absorption into the body.
However, there’s a bit more to the story as recent research suggests that a key mineral is necessary to make the vitamin D3 you have in your body useful.
The Synergistic Relationship between Vitamin D and Magnesium
Chemically speaking, vitamin D3 is similar to cholesterol; with the help of magnesium, vitamin D3 is converted by the liver and kidneys to its bioactive form calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3). Magnesium is an essential cofactor for 300+ enzymatic reactions in the human body. Cofactors are non-protein chemicals that are necessary for proteins and enzymes to work biologically. In this sense, magnesium is like an “assisting mineral” that drives certain substances to be active in the body.
Magnesium and vitamin D work synergistically and co-dependently. If you lack magnesium, your body won’t be able to properly convert vitamin D to its useful form; if you lack active vitamin D, your body won’t be able to properly absorb magnesium. Thus, by supplementing both magnesium and vitamin D3 together, you can establish healthy maintenance levels of both micronutrients in your body.
Aside from promoting absorption of magnesium, you might wonder why vitamin D is so important in the first place. Deficiencies of vitamin D can lead to a host of health issues, including, but not limited to:
- Fanconi syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Importance of Vitamin D3 Supplementation
Given the essentiality of adequate vitamin D levels in the body and many people’s lack of exposure to adequate direct sunlight, vitamin D3 supplementation can help in many ways. The most relevant researched-backed benefits derived from consumption of vitamin D3 include:
- Enhanced cardiovascular function
- Promote healthy mood and reduce stress levels
- Support bone and skin tissues
- Bolster immune function
Remember though, if you’re deficient in magnesium, you won’t be maximizing the use of vitamin D3 you supplement with.
Magnesium: Are You Really Getting Enough in Your Diet?
Magnesium is primarily found in green vegetables and some lentils; it’s the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and works to support bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and immunity.
Dietary intake studies in the United States have noted that upwards of 80% of the U.S. population lacks sufficient amounts of magnesium in their diet. It is likely that similar deficiency prevalence is happening globally as recent research shows that magnesium is becoming less and less abundant in common grains and plant-foods.
Deficiency of this key mineral can lead to various health issues such as muscle weakness, constipation, twitching, and cramps. Therefore, adequate consumption of magnesium is crucial for health and longevity.
Moreover, research suggests magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) has negative ramifications on feelings of well-being and may increase anxiety.
Supplementing with Magnesium
Magnesium supplements come in a variety of forms and are particularly well-absorbed when bound to citric acid. Unfortunately for consumers, many magnesium supplements rely on an inferior form of magnesium – called magnesium oxide – which is poorly absorbed by the body (i.e. less than 2% bioavailability).
Current recommended dietary intake of magnesium is about 350 mg per day, meaning upwards of 5000 mg of supplemental magnesium oxide is necessary daily to reach this level. Not to mention you will likely suffer severe gastrointestinal distress at such a high dose because your stomach acids have to neutralize magnesium oxide for proper absorption.
In short, stay away from magnesium oxide supplements.
For individuals who don’t consume sufficient amounts of magnesium through diet, constipation, muscle cramps, dehydration, anxiety/depression, and feelings of weakness may arise. Research suggests that magnesium citrate supplementation can help restore low magnesium status in adults, thereby helping to alleviate symptoms of magnesium deficiency. (Remember, by maintaining healthy magnesium status you reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency-related symptoms.)
In summary, the benefits of magnesium supplementation may include:
- Increased activation of vitamin D3
- Enhanced relaxation
- Support healthy bowel function
- Support for the immune system
- Help maintain hydration and reduce muscle cramps
For optimal health and well-being, recommendations are to consume at least 300 mg to 350 mg of magnesium per day (males may need up to 400 mg per day).
If you’re struggling to meet your daily magnesium requirements, check out Nu U Nutrition Magnesium Citrate. This product contains one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium, ensuring that what you use actually gets put to use by the body. Each capsule of Nu U Nutrition Magnesium Citrate contains over 200 mg of magnesium citrate, making it a cinch to meet your daily needs of this powerful mineral.