We all worry about getting vitamin D, but are you getting enough magnesium?

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Due to its role in immunity, bone building, blood sugar control, and other vital functions, vitamin D has received a great deal of attention in recent years but there’s more to the process than meets the eye. Without adequate magnesium intake, increasing Vitamin D in your diet is useless. This often ignored essential nutrient plays a hand in activating over 300 different reactions in the human body. It also plays an important role in bone health and regulating blood sugar (like vitamin D). This little powerhouse supplement relaxes smooth muscle, decreases stress, assists in energy production, helps suppress inflammation, and converts vitamin D to a more active form. Some believe it may even lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease.

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It is estimated that most of the US population is deficient in magnesium. This is a problem as magnesium deficiencies are common in chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, Type II diabetes, IBS, and periodontal disease. Signs of a deficiency include muscle twitching/cramps, insomnia, fatigue, and rapid heartbeat. The reasons most of us have this deficiency are poor diet, low amounts in multivitamins (because most of us cannot tolerate the full recommended amount in a single dose), and limited food sources. Decades of over farming have also decreased the nutrients available from the soils in which our food is grown, thereby making it that much harder to get the proper daily dosage.

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Your diet is as good a place as any to start getting more magnesium. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard are rich in magnesium, as are nuts, seeds, and legumes. Pumpkin seeds and cashews are especially good sources. While I’ve always been an advocate for getting most of our nutrients through whole foods, it is difficult to get the recommended amount (400-600mg/day) through diet alone. If you choose to take a supplement, look for one that has CHELATED magnesium. Checking the labels is a must. Only buy supplements that use magnesium glycinate, citrate or malate. Avoid the most common form, magnesium oxide as it is poorly absorbed and has inconvenient side effects (ever taken Milk of Magnesia?). Most people cannot tolerate the full recommended dose at once. The most common way is to take divided doses such as both morning and evening.

Supplements, foods, and sun exposure won’t get your vitamin D to optimal levels without the help of this equally important nutrient. If your vitamin D levels are low, remember to take magnesium before you up your vitamin D intake.

 

About The Author

Jennifer Musser
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist

Jennifer Musser was born and raised in Seattle but loves living in Denver and enjoys most everything that the city and mountains have to offer. After receiving her B.S. in Human Nutrition and Food Science from Colorado State University, she became a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in 2004. As a Certified LEAP** Therapist, Jennifer has specialized training in food sensitivities and related inflammatory conditions. An experienced healthcare practitioner, she understands the importance of being mindful of what we eat and that both traditional and alternative nutrition therapies have a place in helping us look and feel our best. At Fitness Luxe, she will dole out sound and delicious advice on what you should be eating to make the best out of your diet for a healthy, fit and happy life. **Lifestyle Eating and Performance