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Magnesium and Vitamin D

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Or… Why I wash my vitamin D capsules down with Alkaline Booster

A teaspoon of Alkaline Booster contains 190 mg of magnesium.  It is there because it’s one of the minerals the body uses in maintaining optimal pH.  But it does a lot of other things in the body as well.
I learned this morning that it is essential for the absorption of Vitamin D.

What Magnesium does

The big one that hopefully everyone knows is that magnesium is great for cramps.  (Reducing them, not causing them, that is).

It does this because magnesium allows muscle cells to relax.  To move muscles – (calcium for this), to relax muscles, magnesium goes to work.  That’s why cramps after exercise are often associated with magnesium deficiency.
Tip: If it’s cramping from doing nothing then it ‘s probably a calcium deficiency.


By muscles, I don’t just mean skeletal muscles, but cardiac muscle as well.  Yes, the heart needs magnesium to relax.  When you hear of young people, especially young fit people having a heart attack, there’s a very good chance it is linked to a fairly extreme magnesium deficiency.

The role of magnesium in relaxing is also part of how it helps us to sleep.  You will generally find it difficult to fall asleep if you are tense and stressed – and magnesium helps the muscles to relax.
But… but it gets a bit more complex than that.
When we are stressed we release more of our adrenal hormones.  This results in glucose being released into the bloodstream so muscles have a ready energy source for fighting sabre tooth tigers and Microsoft Windows Updates.

Along with the glucose we release magnesium, as the body knows it is going to need an increased supply right at the muscle cells.  Then when the emergency has passed the magnesium is excreted via urine.  So, stress leads to magnesium deficiency.  But it gets worse. You need magnesium for the release of serotonin, that feel-good chemical in the brain that is associated with depression, but also gets converted to melatonin which you need for sleep.

Other things your body uses magnesium for include repairing DNA, improves insulin sensitivity, dilation of blood vessels, bone structure, immune function, fatty acid oxidation, regulation of pH, and vitamin D function.

You may benefit from extra magnesium is you suffer wifromdrenal hyperactivity, alcoholism or cocaine use, anxiety, apathy, asthma, calcium spurs, chronic fatigue, kidney stones, osteoporosis, PMT, restless legs syndrome, urinary frequency, vertigo, or O!, the list goes on and on and on.

What vitamin D does and Why we’re talking about it.

You need vitamin D for bones.  Mostly with bones you need it for parathyroid function.  The parathyroid gland looks after bone cells and makes sure that they are replaced at the right rate.  Osteoporosis is when this balance gets out of whack and you are removing more than you are replacing.

Rickets is also associated the vitamin D deficiency.

You also need vitamin D for muscles, namely contraction, muscle strength and they have a role in postural stability.  In fact, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to muscle weakness, gait disturbance, paraesthesia, and muscular discomfort.  When the boffins looked at muscle cells in severely vitamin D deficient people they found infiltration of fat, presence of glycogen granules, fibrosis, and type II muscle fiber (fast-twitch) atrophy.

Then there is the skin.  Another study found that in people with idiopathic itchy skin that didn’t respond to anything else, taking vitamin D in high doses stopped the itching.

You need it for hormone balance.  All your hormones need to be in balance with the right ones being released at the right time in the right amount for you to be healthy and functioning.  Vitamin D is like the foreman of the hormones.  It goes around telling hormones when to work, how much to work and when they can stop.

How and Why I take Magnesium

RDA:  men 420mg; women 360mg

Really good sources of magnesium include almonds, cashews, cocoa, cod, lima beans, figs, green vegetables, parsnips, milk, mushrooms, molasses, wholegrain cereals (milling of wheat removes 90% or the magnesium), kelp, eggs and seeds.

Shouldn’t be a problem?  Wrong.

The standard diet in the United States contains about 50% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium, and as much as three-quarters of the total population is estimated to be consuming a magnesium-deficient diet.

It is estimated that the magnesium content in various food and vegetables is declining, ranging from 25% to 80% compared with the levels before 1950.

In the UK there has been a steady decline in magnesium content in commonly consumed food. For instance, between 1940 and 1991, the decline in magnesium was approximately 24% in vegetables, 17% in fruits, 15% in meats, and 26% in cheeses.

A study in 1991 found that in Australia 50% of men and 39% of women, are below the RDA for magnesium.  And a different study from the CSIRO found that Australian soils are low in magnesium.

This is always presuming that the soil is rich in magnesium to begin with.  If it isn’t in the soil, it can’t be in the food.  If it is in the food but is removed as part of processing then it isn’t going to get into our bodies.

Why I take vitamin D

The body makes vitamin D from the sun shining on the skin.  I’ve often thought that this makes vitamin D incredibly important to the body.  It is so important that it doesn’t matter what you eat, (like it does with every other nutrient), the body bypassed that requirement and we get it straight from the sun.  There is also a bit in fish liver oils such as cod liver oil and halibut liver oil, some in milk, and some in sprouted seeds.

For most people about half an hour in full sun, without sunscreen, per day, is enough to get sufficient vitamin D.  First off, most of us don’t do this.  We usually wear clothes when outdoors, especially in winter.  Most of us have listened to the sunscreen prevents skin cancer message, (and missed the high levels of vitamin D are associated with lower levels of cancer message) and dutifully slap on our sunscreen before venturing out.

This isn’t why I take vitamin D though.  A few years back I had a gene analysis done, it was a test for genes specifically associated with nutrients.  It turns out that I have REALLY bad genes for making vitamin D.  Doesn’t matter how much sun I get, I still don’t do a good job of it.

 So, I take my vitamin D capsules on most days.

If you have olive or dark skin or just tan easily then there is a good chance that you also have bad vitamin D genes and should consider a supplement.

How they work together

When we make or take vitamin D it is in its inactive form and it has to be converted into its active form for us to use it.
This makes sense, otherwise we would always be immediately running out of vitamin D, not only using what we need at any one time.

For this conversion to occur, you need magnesium.  Like everything else in the body, it is controlled by enzymes, and these enzymes don’t work without magnesium.

Also, strangely enough, vitamin D needs to be carried around in the bloodstream so it can get to where it is needed.  The major way it does this is with the help if Vitamin D-binding protein.  The activity of this protein is dependent on magnesium.

So, without magnesium, we can’t activate or transport vitamin D.

But the interaction doesn’t stop there, it’s a two-way street.

Approximately 30% to 70% of magnesium is absorbed by the intestine, and we absorb more if we are deficient, or acidic.  We also absorb more in the presence of vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D stimulates the absorption of magnesium.

In a study where people were given either Vitamin D or Magnesium or both the levels of each were increased by a lot more than when they were given separately.  Also, if someone is deficient in one, they have low levels of the other.

When most of us think about osteoporosis treatment and the research that goes into it, we think of calcium, and maybe vitamin D.  But one group decided to test the levels of magnesium as well.  What they found is that the people with the highest intake of magnesium had the highest bone density.  This just goes to show, that the vitamin D and calcium supplement routinely prescribed aren’t going to do its job if you are magnesium deficient.

As a final note, beware if you decide to get tests done before supplementing either vitamin D or magnesium.

With respect to magnesium, about 60% is in our bones and teeth, about 40% is inside our cells and only about 0.3% of our magnesium will be in serum (extracellularly) and this level is maintained within very narrow limits.  A test of blood will only test that that 0.3% is being maintained, it won’t accurately depict how much magnesium is in tissues.

The levels of vitamin D in the blood generally referred to as being acceptable are down at the “not getting rickets” level, not up at the doing everything else vitamin D can do level.

I often get asked about the best time to take different supplements.  This is a tricky one as even though some nutrients are better absorbed at differing times of the day, often the answer is that taking them will be more beneficial than leaving them on the shelf, so whatever suits your lifestyle is the best time.

For me, I usually have a dose of Alkaline Booster most days.  And I frequently take Vitamin D capsules (4000iu a day so they actually do the job I need to).  My Alkaline Booster has been soon after I get to work of a morning, and the vitamin D usually just before I go home.  No reason for this, it’s just how it tends to happen.

But as of today, I take them together.

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