A random trial by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center scientists shows that magnesium enhances the status of vitamin D, increasing it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels. This is important because of findings from ongoing research into the relationship between vitamin D and colorectal cancer as well as other diseases including a report from the VITAL trial - a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. This brought confirmation to a previous observational study in 2013 by scientists that linked low levels of magnesium with low levels of vitamin D. The findings were reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The trial also revealed that magnesium had a regulatory effect in people with high levels of vitamin D. The research acts as first evidence that magnesium may play an important role in enhancing vitamin D levels and preventing vitamin D-related conditions. Ingram Professor of Cancer Research Qi Dai, MD, Ph.D. - and lead author of the study - describes the ideal level as the middle range of a U-shape because vitamin D has been linked to the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease in earlier observational studies.
Nevertheless, in a recent VITAL trial, vitamin D was not related to cardiovascular disease. Qi Dai and Martha Shrubsole, Ph.D., research professor of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, investigated the role that magnesium may play with cancer as part of the Personalized Prevention of Colorectal Cancer Trial. “There’s a lot of information being debated about the relationship between vitamin D and colorectal cancer risk that is based upon observational studies versus clinical trials,” Shrubsole said. “The information is mixed thus far.” ”Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway,” Dai added.
A Closer Look At Magnesium
The role of magnesium became a topic of interest because people produce vitamin D differently with levels in some individuals not rising even after getting high doses of supplements. Vitamin D synthesis and the metabolism pathway is shut down by magnesium deficiency, according to Dai. This random study involved 250 people at risk of developing colorectal cancer because of either risk factors or having a precancerous polyp removed. Doses of placebo and magnesium were personalized based on baseline dietary intake.
Shrubsole talked about the fact that the levels of magnesium in the trial were in line with RDA guidelines where she also recommended dietary changes as the best method for increasing intake. Foods with high levels of magnesium include leafy greens, beans, dark chocolate, fatty fish, avocados and nuts. “Vitamin D insufficiency is something that has been recognized as a potential health problem on a fairly large scale in the U.S.,” Shrubsole said. “A lot of people have received recommendations from their health care providers to take vitamin D supplements to increase their levels based upon their blood tests. In addition to vitamin D, however, magnesium deficiency is an under-recognized issue. Up to 80 percent of people do not consume enough magnesium in a day to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) based on those national estimates.”
About The Author
Lisa S. Jones is a certified nurse, nutritionist, fitness coach and health expert. Her training credentials include a B.Sc. in Nursing from California State University in 2013 and Youth Nutrition Specialist Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates in 2015. In 2017, she also received Holistic Nutrition Certification from the American Fitness Professionals and Associates.