In a recent review published in the March issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers confirmed the link between magnesium and vitamin D. Magnesium is required to activate vitamin D for optimal bioavailability. According to this article, up to 50% of Americans may not be utilizing vitamin D because of magnesium deficiency.

There is more public awareness of the importance of vitamin D and many take it in supplement form. One of the best source of vitamin D3 is from the sun, but if you live in the Pacific Northwest there is a good chance that you’re not getting adequate amounts, especially in the fall and winter. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic health conditions including breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, autoimmune conditions and dementia.

How effective is vitamin D as a supplement?
This research article reminds us that we need to look further into how nutrients interact in order for supplements to be useful in our bodies. When and how you supplement can make all the difference. Magnesium converts vitamin D into its active form. All the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D require magnesium. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Researchers also pointed out that adequate consumption of magnesium can reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

What does this mean for you?
I often start by testing my patients’ blood levels of vitamin D. From there, I review their medical history and identify why and how specific doses of supplements are important for each individual.

Foods high in vitamin D include oily fish, egg yolks, oysters and mushrooms. Foods high in magnesium include nuts and seeds, beans (including tofu), green vegetables, whole grains, egg yolk, milk, bananas and avocado. Prepare your meals intelligently. For breakfast, blend silken tofu with almond butter and a banana. For lunch or dinner, enjoy a piece of wild salmon on a bed of sautéed kale and organic brown rice. These are examples of nutrient rich meals that can pack a punch to your nutritional requirements.