Razi Berry

A recent study shows that magnesium may play an important role in optimizing vitamin D levels. The study, led by researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center indicates that magnesium optimizes and balances vitamin D status; increasing it when deficient, and lowering it when too high.

Research important in the context of controversial findings on the association of vitamin D and colorectal cancer

The research is important in the context of controversial findings on the association of vitamin D and colorectal cancer and other diseases, including recent information from the VITAL trial. It adds to the observations that low magnesium levels have been connected with low vitamin D levels.

The trial showed something new

Magnesium seemed to show a regulating effect on vitamin D levels. This is the first evidence that magnesium may play a role in balancing and optimizing vitamin D levels.

Qi Dai, MD, PhD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, the study’s lead author and Martha Shrubsole, PhD, research professor of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, are investigating 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 and vitamin D synthesis

“Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway,” Dai said.

Study included 250 participants

The study included 250 participants, who were considered at risk for developing colorectal cancer. Magnesium and placebo were customized based on dietary intake.

Vitamin D insufficiency has been recognized as potential health problem

“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.”

Magnesium levels in the trial were in line with RDA guidelines

Shrubsole stressed that the magnesium levels in the trial were in line with RDA guidelines, and she recommended dietary changes as the best method for increasing intake. Foods with high levels of magnesium include dark leafy greens, beans, whole grains, dark chocolate, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, and avocados.


Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of  the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review  that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath.  She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at  Love is Medicine  to explore the convergence of love and health.

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