Magnesium Deficiency Prevents Vitamin D Metabolism

magnesium deficiency and foods
Products containing magnesium: bananas, pumpkin seeds, blue poppy seed, cashew nuts, beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, buckwheat, peanuts, pistachios, dark chocolate and sesame seeds.

Magnesium Deficiency

Recent reports have highlighted the importance of vitamin D in fighting Covid-19. With more than 40% of the population deficient in vitamin D, everyone is scrambling to restore healthy levels. Unfortunately, without normal levels of magnesium, these efforts will not have the intended effects. Even worse, if you supplement vitamin D but can’t absorb it, you can actually cause negative effects such as vascular calcification. Magnesium deficiency is common and undermines efforts to restore normal vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels, meaning Vitamin D remains stored and inactive for as many as 50 percent of Americans. In addition, Vitamin D supplements can increase a person’s calcium and phosphate levels even while they remain Vitamin D deficient. People may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren’t high enough to prevent the complication


Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the human body. It’s involved in over 300 metabolic reactions and 600 enzymatic functions in the body. Despite it’s important to optima immune function and health, there is very little awareness of this important mineral. Worse yet, our modern diet is severely lacking. As a result, less than half the population gets an adequate amount of magnesium from their diet (6)

drjamesdinic explaining the importance of Magnesium

Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency isn’t identified as often as it occurs in clinical practice. Screening isn’t a routine practice unless there are symptoms or related issues.

‘Abnormalities of serum Mg may be the most underdiagnosed serum electrolyte abnormality in clinical practice today. The incidence appears to range from 12.5% to 20% on routine determination’.41

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

When it’s deficient, it can cause issues beyond poor absorption of vitamin D. It can also be related to everything from diabetes risk to constipation (1) (5). On a personal note, resolving Magmensium deficiency was a key component in my insomnia treatment. It has also been a factor in my mother’s chronic migraine management.

  • Headaches (3)
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (4)
  • Mental Health (anxiety & depression)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Muscle Twitches
  • Constipation
  • Osteoporosis
  • Irregular Heatbeat
  • Diabetes (6)
  • Insomnia

How do I develop Magnesium Deficiency?

Certain medical conditions related to metabolic dysfunction or poor mineral absorption can result in Mg deficiencies. Supplements and medications can also contribute to low Mg levels. Other than that, our poor dietary choices and ultra-filtered water are to blame.

Medical Risk Factors

  • Kidney Failure
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Coeliac disease
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Renal tubular acidosis
  • Diabetic acidosis
  • Prolonged diuresis
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis

Supplement & medication risk factors

  • Diuretics
  • Calcium supplementation (competes with Mg absorption) (7)
  • Over supplementation of Vitamin D (encourages excessive calcium absorption) (7)
  • Antacids
  • Acid blocking medications

Dietary Risk Factors

  • Processed Foods
  • Refined Grains
  • Unhealthy Fats
  • Phosphate
  • Sugar
  • Excessive coffee consumption
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Excessive calcium consumption
  • Filtered water (magnesium is removed by filters)

Researchers say the magnesium consumption from natural foods has decreased in the past few decades, owing to industrialized agriculture and changes in dietary habits. Magnesium status is low in populations who consume processed foods that are high in refined grains, fat, phosphate, and sugar.

Sugar is Particularly Worrisome

how sugar and refined carbs deplete Magnesium
Sugar and Refined Carbs

How do I restore normal levels of Magnesium?

First, magnesium levels can be assessed with a simple blood test. Your physician can test your levels and then recommend an appropriate supplement protocol if you’re deficient. This is a great test to have with your vitamin D blood test since they work together.

Second, start drinking mineral water. This won’t restore normal levels if you have a magnesium deficiency, but combined with magnesium-rich foods and supplements, mineral water can help put your body back in balance.

The intensification of municipal water treatment has resulted in a growing epidemic of magnesium deficiency, with most Americans failing even to achieve the modest levels set by the government-recommended RDA. Most of us have daily deficiencies in magnesium intake of only 70-200 mg a day.

Dr. William Davis is an author and cardiologist practicing in Milwaukee, WI.

Third, consider adding electrolytes to your water or team. I prefer Ultima lemonade flavor but they also have raspberry, orange, and other flavors. They pack 100mg of magnesium per serving with no calories.

Ultima electrolytes
Great mixed in with unsweet tea as no calorie ‘Arnold Palmer’

Who are the experts?

You also have the benefit of online resources and experts who can guide you on this topic. I’ve listed my favorite experts and resources below.

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Kelly is a shameless critic of the 'weight loss' industry that profits from women being overweight, unhappy, and confused. Kelly has spent the last 20 years as an industry under and seen the damage misinformation can do in women's lives first hand. After her own personal journey back to health, Kelly created this space in love to help other women to access the science of biohacking to achieve an ideal weight, look younger and bring their spirit back to life. Kelly is a mother of two, fitness executive, and road warrior.

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