Low magnesium as a restrictor to vitamin D absorption

The VITL Nutrition Team / 9 May 2018

You thought that getting your vitamin D was as simple as basking in the sun, taking your supplements, and eating some eggs and salmon. Sadly, recent research has indicated a further complication making things a bit more difficult.


A review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association revealed that magnesium is actually crucial activation of vitamin D. They found that without sufficient levels of magnesium in our diet, vitamin D isn’t able to be metabolised effectively by the body. Meaning that the vitamin D we’ve all done so well to introduce into our diet and lifestyle, actually remains stored and inactive if we have a diet low in magnesium.

Interestingly, the study found that those with optimal magnesium levels actually require less vitamin D supplementation to reach the desired level of vitamin D as a whole! The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 400-420mg for males and 310-360mg per day for females1. So if you’re not matching this, it’s time to up your magnesium levels!

So how can you ensure you're getting enough magnesium?

Here’s where you could start:

1. Bananas 

Bananas might be better known for being rich in potassium, but a medium-size banana actually also provides 32mg of magnesium!  If you’re needing a little inspiration, why not spruce up your mornings with our tasty banana & oat bars or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, give our delish chai-spiced banana smoothie a go! 

2. Avocado

Avocado is an excellent source of magnesium, providing 58mg per medium-sized avo. Try some smashed avocado on toast with a sprinkle of chilli flakes or simply add it to your salad! Any excuse. 

3. Leafy greens

We know you might not like to hear it, but these are some of the richest sources of dietary magnesium, whether it be spinach, kale or iceberg lettuce (and more).  They also play host to a number of other nutrients and can be easily added to your everyday meals. Try to incorporate a handful into meals wherever you can! 

4. Seeds! 

Seeds are great, like miniature pods of health and goodness. Many contain high amounts of magnesium, including flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and chia seeds and it's so easy to add them into your diet! Chuck them in a yummy soup, whack them on a salad or add them to your smoothie bowl. 

If you're not sure where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got some tasty recipes for you to try... try out our blueberry and ginger porridge, or our rosemary & linseed thins, perfect for a quick and light snack! 

Other sources

If you don’t like the sound of those there are plenty other sources: brown rice, black beans, whole grain bread, cashews, oatmeal, egg yolk, spinach, fish oil, and even dark chocolate (yay!).

We also include a highly absorbable magnesium complex in our Essentials 4 Nutrition Pack, ensuring you've got all the bases covered!

1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.