The Reason Why Your Vitamin D Supplements Aren’t Working

Without this mineral, your vitamin D supplements may not work properly—leaving you at risk for all kinds of trouble.

Even if you eat a decent diet, you could be falling short on magnesium. You need the mineral to keep your heart healthy and your energy levels high—and new research suggests you may also need magnesium to keep vitamin D from harming your health. The findings come from a scientific report recently published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Vitamin D is crucial for bone growth, controlling blood sugar, and it may even protect against some types of cancer. In a collaborative effort between Harvard University and the University of Rwanda, researchers have discovered that without enough magnesium, those D supplements aren’t only worthless but they could be dangerously increasing your levels of calcium and phosphate. After analyzing how vitamin D behaves in the body, the researchers discovered that magnesium helps activate the vitamin so that the body can put it to use. (Learn to spot the signs you’re not getting enough vitamin D.

For women, the daily recommended allowance for magnesium is between 320 and 360 mg; for men, it’s between 410 and 420 mg. The authors of the study note that magnesium is naturally present in “almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flaxseed, green vegetables, milk, mushrooms, other nuts, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet corn, tofu, and whole grains.” In addition, some foods are fortified with the mineral. Despite all the potential sources, the average North American only gets about 50 per cent of the recommended daily allowance; nearly half are at risk of being dangerously deficient.

“Studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can increase the effectiveness of vitamin D activity,” the study authors write. “Therefore, further controlled studies should determine the dose…required for reducing vitamin D-associated disorders.” In the meantime, look to get more magnesium-rich foods in your diet and, if you’re downing a D supplement, consider adding a magnesium pill to your regimen.

Find out more health benefits of magnesium.

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Originally Published on The Healthy