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Why Vitamin D is More Important than Ever…and Useless Without This Nutrient

Spending time outdoors such as growing beautiful sunchokes helps your skin absorb vitamin D. Photo Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook. Spending Time Outdoors, Such as Growing These Sunchokes Helps Your Skin Absorb Vitamin D.   Photo Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook.

An exciting study in the medical journal PLOSOne found that correcting a vitamin D deficiency could help protect you against viral threats. The preliminary study found that this supplementing with this affordable and readily-available nutrient may reduce the risk of dying from a virus by 370%. While more research needs to be done to support the scientists’ findings, the study shows the potential benefits of the nutrient to ensure a healthy immune system. But, taking vitamin D is not enough as I’ll explain momentarily.

Current estimates in StatPearls suggest that one billion people worldwide suffer from this nutrient deficiency that puts them at risk of viral threats when an affordable and readily accessible solution is at hand. Even those who supplement with this vitamin rarely take the correct form of the vitamin, in high enough doses, frequently enough, for long enough periods of time to get these results. Dr. Cook shares this critical information to help you keep your immunity strong: You’ll need to take 2,000 IU of the correct form of vitamin D (cholecalciferol or vitamin D3) for at least a few months to eliminate the deficiency that plagues approximately fifty percent of the population, according to the same publication.

But, before you take your vitamin D drops you might want to know about a new study that shows vitamin D needs another nutrient to work properly. Recent evidence shows that vitamin D synthesis is completely dependent on magnesium levels--a nutrient, which sadly, a large percentage of the population is deficient in. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study concluded that the mineral magnesium is necessary for vitamin D to do its many jobs in the body.

Dr. Qi Dai, the professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the head of an earlier study, published in BMC Medicine, found that people with high levels of magnesium intake in their diet or from supplements were less likely to have low vitamin D levels. The study also showed that people with higher magnesium intakes had a lower risk of death due to heart disease or bowel cancer.

Dr. Dai and other researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted another study to find out why higher levels of magnesium meant a reduced risk of vitamin D deficiency. They found that magnesium acts as a cofactor for the production of vitamin D, either from the sunlight or from dietary sources. In an interview with Medical News Today, Dr. Dai indicated that “Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway.” 

The study showed that supplementation with magnesium led to an increased amount of vitamin D among people with previously low levels of the vitamin. And, magnesium supplementation also reduced the amount of vitamin D among people with excessively high levels. In other words, the mineral acted to balance the amount of vitamin D in a person’s body, which is important because vitamin D deficiencies are linked to serious health problems like reduced immunity, but an excessively high amount of vitamin D can also cause illness, including excessive calcium in the blood.


Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is an international best-selling and 24-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your LifeFollow her work.

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