Little Known Ways Magnesium Aids Absorption of Other Nutrients

By on December 13, 2014
Calcium and Magnesium Absorption

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most overlooked health problems in the western world today. Lack of magnesium mimics a host of health problems such as fibromyalgia, back pain, tendonitis, osteoporosis and an array of other so-called ‘incurable’ health problems. One of the little known reasons that magnesium deficiency causes such a variety of health issues is that this ‘Master Nutrient’ is utilized as an enzyme by a multitude of nutrients in a variety of cellular processes. 2 Magnesium is such an important nutrient that taking it by itself, in many cases, can actually raise blood levels of calcium, potassium and vitamin D! 1

How Does Magnesium Help Calcium to Work?

Unlike drugs, nutrients require a complex array of substances in order to work properly and one of the best examples of this phenomenon is calcium. Women in western countries have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis despite having the highest calcium intakes in the world; while their Peruvian and Japanese sisters, who get far less calcium but plenty of magnesium, have extremely low rates of osteoporosis.

While it’s fairly well known that magnesium is required for calcium to be absorbed in the intestinal tract, it’s less well known that magnesium helps calcium dissolve into solution in the bloodstream. Natural calcium is an insoluble mineral that, when crushed, will sink to the bottom of a glass of water. Calcium will remain in crystalline form in the bloodstream without sufficient magnesium, which can lead to problems such as kidney stones and lack of calcium absorption. Adding magnesium will keep the calcium in solution, which explains many studies showing that higher magnesium intakes are an important measure in preventing not only osteoporosis, but kidney stones and heart disease as well.5


Magnesium’s Relationship to Potassium and Vitamin D

While magnesium is vital for the utilization of calcium, the Magnesium Facts show that it also plays unique roles in the uptake of potassium and the transformation of vitamin D. In the case of potassium there are several studies showing that magnesium alone can improve low potassium levels 3. This is particularly dramatic in certain extremely ill hospitalized patients who continually have low potassium levels despite large amounts of intravenous potassium. Many hospitals have created protocols that require simply giving a dose or two of magnesium in order to solve this potentially life-threatening electrolyte imbalance.

Vitamin D, too, requires magnesium for several reasons. First, magnesium is needed in order to convert vitamin D into its active form in the bloodstream. You can be taking ‘enough’ vitamin D, but if you are magnesium deficient you may not be able to increase your blood levels. This often leads to the belief that there is a problem with Vitamin D Absorption when there is actually not. 3. An even more urgent reason to get sufficient magnesium with vitamin D, however, is that it ‘uses up’ magnesium, which can actually create overt Signs of Magnesium Deficiency quite rapidly. In fact, the majority of ‘side effects’ that people experience when taking vitamin D, are actually magnesium deficiency symptoms that can be completely resolved with the addition of magnesium.

With the multitude of actions it exerts on so many diverse physiologic systems in the body and the increasing amount of scientists, doctors and everyday people who are taking notice of the ever increasing body of research, magnesium is slowly but surely earning its rightful place in medicine as the body’s ‘Master Nutrient. Nearly everyone should consider taking Magnesium Supplements in order to help resolve the widespread ‘epidemic’ of magnesium deficiency, since it’s nearly impossible to get enough magnesium from food.


1) Evidence for Parathyroid Failure in Magnesium Deficiency
2) Magnesium Deficiency: A Cause of Heterogenous Disease in Humans

About Kerri Knox, RN

The author is a Registered Nurse and Functional Medicine Practitioner. With 20 years of experience in health care, she has the unique perspective of being solidly grounded in both Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine. She can help you to to find and repair the underlying causes of chronic illness, while empowering you to take charge of your own health. She is the owner and author of this blog and website.

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