Magnesium, Calcium & Vitamin D – how a balance of these is the key to optimal health

A while back we posted a blog about what we like to call the ‘master mineral’ MAGNESIUM.

Basically we need Magnesium for over 300 biochemical reactions that are necessary for optimal health. It plays a vital role in digestion, energy production, muscle contraction & relaxation, bone formation and cell division. Magnesium is a key nutrient in the proper functioning of the heart, the kidneys, the adrenals and the entire nervous system. Hopefully you’re getting the message that it’s kind of important! (Read the full blog HERE)

I often discuss with my clients the benefits of a magnesium supplement, especially those that exercise regularly and have tight, sore muscles.

** In most cases magnesium is a safe dietary supplement however it’s always advisable to check with your doctor if you are unsure whether it’s appropriate for you.

Magnesium is imperative to the functioning of the body but it certainly doesn’t act alone. Adequate magnesium levels don’t mean much if you are deficient in other important minerals such as Calcium, Potassium and Vitamin D. The body needs balance, and for the body to function at its most efficient level this balance is rather delicate!

Let’s explore this a little more.

Most people think that the most important factor for strong bones is calcium. Well you also need Vitamin D. What if I told you that you need Magnesium to convert Vitamin D into its active form which is required to absorb the calcium which we need for strong bones? Magnesium is what kick starts the whole process. One without the other, too little of one, too much of another; all result in an imbalance with potential health consequences.

Research suggests that 40-60% of otherwise healthy adults and children are vitamin D deficient. At least half of the population are magnesium deficient. Meanwhile calcium is one of the most over prescribed supplements to prevent osteoporosis. The benefits of calcium with respect to bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis are enormously impaired in the absence of adequate levels of magnesium in the body.

Can you see where we are going with this?

Consider this scenario

You read an article in this months fitness magazine calcium for strong bones… which gets your thinking; do you get enough calcium? You don’t eat dairy so maybe not?Should you try just try a calcium supplement? It would make sense right? What you don’t realise is that you are also magnesium deficient. Magnesium stimulates calcitonin which is a hormone responsible for drawing calcium into the bones from the blood stream & soft tissues. This strengthens the bones, lowers the likelihood of osteoporosis & some forms of arthritis as well reduces the risk of heart attack and kidney stones. Without magnesium all that extra calcium you are about to have in your diet via a supplement remains in the blood stream potentially turning into calcium deposits which in the long run can have catastrophic health consequences.

What about Vitamin D? I’ve spoken to a number of clients who have been told they need more Vitamin D; whether it’s from a little added sun exposure or via a supplement. The enzymes that metabolize vitamin D also require magnesium. Increasing your vitamin D uptake when your magnesium levels are low puts a high metabolic demand on the body. It draws magnesium out of the muscle storage sites to use for fuel which explains why muscles suffer the most when you are deficient in magnesium.

Too many people pop a pill because they read something or get told by someone that they need it. We need to look at the whole picture. It’s not necessarily the individual levels of each but rather a balance of minerals that needs to be considered. Magnesium is needed to convert vitamin D into its active form and we need vitamin D to absorb calcium. So we come full circle.

Magnesium deficiency coupled with a higher calcium intake via inappropriate supplementation can create a huge mineral imbalance in the body. Add the increase in Vitamin D supplements and it’s a walking time bomb for bone health and heart disease.

If you are having ongoing health issues it may be time to set the record straight. Talk to your GP, have a proper blood test so you have ALL THE INFORMATION. Where possible use healthy food sources to get your mineral levels up and if it’s necessary then you could consider adding a supplement to your diet.