Life Extension Magazine®

HEalthy woman takes vitamin d and magnesium

How Magnesium & Vitamin D Work Together

Magnesium and vitamin D enhance each other’s benefits by boosting nutrient activation, absorption, and delivery.

Scientifically reviewed by: Amanda Martin, DC, in November 2023. Written by: Brian Mcknight.

Magnesium1,2 and vitamin D3-5 are vital to overall health.

But you're taking either one alone, you're not getting the full benefits!

Research has shown that these two nutrients rely on each other to provide systemic benefits.6

Magnesium is critical for converting vitamin D to its active form in the body and aids its transport in the blood.7

At the same time vitamin D promotes magnesium absorption in the intestines.6,7

Given their inter-reliance, taking them together is a sound nutritional strategy.

Observational studies show that both vitamin D and magnesium intake is associated with improved protection against insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and even death from any cause.

In clinical studies, taking both vitamin D and magnesium led to lower blood pressure, improved strength and muscle function, and reduced markers of inflammation.

Whole Body Health

Magnesium is required for the function of 300-600 enzymes in the body.1,6

Magnesium deficiency has been tied to many common health conditions, including osteoporosis,1 high blood pressure,1,8 risk for cardiovascular disease,1,8 metabolic disease,1,2,8 cognitive decline,8 and dementia.8

Vitamin D also impacts a wide range of bodily functions. People with low levels of vitamin D have been found to have higher rates of cardiovascular disease,3,5 dementia,4 cancer,3 bone thinning,4,5 and more.3-5

Recent estimates show that as many as 50% of all adults may have suboptimal magnesium levels9 and over 40% of adolescents and adults in the U.S. have low vitamin D levels.10

Working Together

These two nutrients are not independent. Inadequate intake of one can impact the levels and function of the other.

Here's how:6,7

  • Vitamin D supports intestinal magnesium absorption. Vitamin D supports optimal absorption of magnesium in the intestines. If you consume oral magnesium but don't get enough vitamin D, your magnesium levels may remain low.
  • Magnesium is required for vitamin D activation. Whether consumed or obtained by exposure to sunlight, vitamin D must be modified into its active form in the body to exert its beneficial effects. The enzymes that convert vitamin D to its active form require magnesium to function.
  • Vitamin D transport and delivery rely on magnesium. Almost all vitamin D in the blood is transported and delivered to tissues by a protein called the vitamin D-binding protein. This protein also requires magnesium to function.

In short, inadequate magnesium compromises vitamin D activation and delivery.

And inadequate vitamin D compromises magnesium absorption and can contribute to low magnesium status.

If either nutrient is lacking, the other suffers as well. It's vital to get enough of both.

Benefits of Combined Intake

Over the last decade, observational studies have documented this interdependent relationship between magnesium and vitamin D, including how it relates to several common chronic diseases of aging.11-14

For example, higher vitamin D levels in the body are associated with a lower likelihood of insulin resistance, pancreas dysfunction, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and overall mortality.11-15

Higher intake of magnesium has been shown to improve vitamin D levels.16 It appears that magnesium may also allow the body to properly utilize vitamin D in order to protect against these chronic conditions.

In one large observational study, those with higher levels of vitamin D had lower risk for insulin resistance, a condition that often leads to type II diabetes. Magnesium intake supports this association. That suggests that people with higher vitamin D levels and higher magnesium intake may have the greatest protection against insulin resistance.15

In a separate analysis of that same observational dataset, vitamin D was associated with better pancreatic beta-cell function, and magnesium helped strengthen this effect.12

An analysis of data from another large observational cohort (over 10,000 participants), showed that high magnesium intake was associated with a modest reduction in incidence of type II diabetes, compared to low magnesium intake. The analysis also found that better vitamin D levels helped strengthen this association.14

Another observational study found that elevated systolic blood pressure was associated with lower vitamin D levels. Higher intake of magnesium strengthens the protective effect of vitamin D against high blood pressure.13

What You Need to Know

Magnesium and Vitamin D Need Each Other

  • Getting enough magnesium and vitamin D is critical to overall health. A deficiency in either is associated with increased risk for a wide range of chronic health conditions.
  • Magnesium and vitamin D rely on each other. Studies have found that adequate levels of either one is necessary for the other to function properly and to reach optimal levels.
  • In observational studies, taking both vitamin D and magnesium is associated with increased protection against insulin resistance, and better metabolic health.
  • In clinical studies, taking both vitamin D and magnesium is associated with improved mental health, muscle strength, and blood pressure.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials have further confirmed the link between magnesium and vitamin D.

In one randomized controlled trial, oral magnesium supplementation successfully raised vitamin D levels in subjects with low blood vitamin D concentrations.17

Another double-blind, controlled trial in obese or overweight individuals found that the combination of both magnesium and vitamin D resulted in greater increases in blood levels of vitamin D compared to those who took vitamin D alone.18

In a similar study, healthy postmenopausal women were randomized to receive either 500 mg of magnesium daily or a placebo.16 At baseline, over 80% of these women were vitamin D deficient. Taking magnesium resulted in a significant increase in vitamin D levels.

Placebo-controlled clinical studies have also explored how taking both magnesium and vitamin D can affect various areas of health, including:

  • High blood pressure. In a study referenced above, in obese or overweight adults with elevated systolic blood pressure at baseline, taking 360 mg of magnesium with 1,000 IU vitamin D resulted in greater serum concentrations of vitamin D.
  • Mental health. Magnesium and vitamin D have each been shown to benefit mental health, including anxiety and depression.19-21
  • Muscle strength and function. In a study, 83 healthy, middle-aged, vitamin D- deficient women, were randomized to receive a combination of 50,000 IU of vitamin D weekly and 250 mg of magnesium daily for eight weeks, or placebo. Results showed that the vitamin D and magnesium group had a significant increase in handgrip strength and overall mobility, compared to the placebo group. The treatment group also had a decrease in an important inflammatory marker, compared to the beginning of the study.22

Together with a wealth of observational studies, these trials show the benefits of ensuring adequate intake of both vitamin D and magnesium.


Magnesium and vitamin D are inextricably linked. The levels of one impact the levels and function of the other.

The body needs magnesium to activate and transport vitamin D. In return, vitamin D can enhance magnesium absorption and retention.

Working together, magnesium and vitamin D can benefit musculoskeletal, metabolic, and heart health.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.


  1. Available at: . Accessed September 8, 2023.
  2. Piuri G, Zocchi M, Della Porta M, et al. Magnesium in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients.2021Jan 22;13(2).
  3. Galesanu C, Mocanu V. Vitamin D Deficiency and the Clinical Consequences. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi.2015Apr-Jun;119(2):310-8.
  4. Meehan M, Penckofer S. The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult. J Aging Gerontol.2014Dec;2(2):60-71.
  5. Umar M, Sastry KS, Chouchane AI. Role of Vitamin D Beyond the Skeletal Function: A Review of the Molecular and Clinical Studies. Int J Mol Sci. 2018May 30;19(6).
  6. Uwitonze AM, Razzaque MS. Role of Magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. J Am Osteopath Assoc.2018Mar 1;118(3):181-9.
  7. Al Alawi AM, Majoni SW, Falhammar H. Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions. Int J Endocrinol.2018;2018:9041694.
  8. Barbagallo M, Veronese N, Dominguez LJ. Magnesium in Aging, Health and Diseases. Nutrients.2021Jan 30;13(2).
  9. DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart.2018;5(1):e000668.
  10. Cui A, Xiao P, Ma Y, et al. Prevalence, trend, and predictor analyses of vitamin D deficiency in the US population, 2001-2018. Front Nutr. 2022;9:965376.
  11. Deng X, Song Y, Manson JE, et al. Magnesium, vitamin D status and mortality: results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III. BMC Med.2013Aug 27;11:187.
  12. Gong R, Liu Y, Luo G, et al. Dietary Magnesium Intake Affects the Vitamin D Effects on HOMA-beta and Risk of Pancreatic beta-Cell Dysfunction: A Cross-Sectional Study. Front Nutr.2022;9:849747.
  13. Huang W, Ma X, Chen Y, et al. Dietary Magnesium Intake Modifies the Association Between Vitamin D and Systolic Blood Pressure: Results From NHANES 2007-2014. Front Nutr.2022;9:829857.
  14. Huang W, Ma X, Liang H, et al. Dietary Magnesium Intake Affects the Association Between Serum Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes: A Cross-Sectional Study. Front Nutr.2021;8:763076.
  15. Liu Y, Gong R, Ma H, et al. Dietary Magnesium Intake Level Modifies the Association Between Vitamin D and Insulin Resistance: A Large Cross-Sectional Analysis of American Adults. Front Nutr.2022;9:878665.
  16. Vazquez-Lorente H, Herrera-Quintana L, Molina-Lopez J, et al. Response of Vitamin D after Magnesium Intervention in a Postmenopausal Population from the Province of Granada, Spain. Nutrients.2020Jul 30;12(8).
  17. Dai Q, Zhu X, Manson JE, et al. Magnesium status and supplementation influence vitamin D status and metabolism: results from a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr.2018Dec 1;108(6):1249-58.
  18. Cheung MM, Dall RD, Shewokis PA, et al. The effect of combined magnesium and vitamin D supplementation on vitamin D status, systemic inflammation, and blood pressure: A randomized double-blinded controlled trial. Nutrition.2022Jul-Aug;99-100:111674.
  19. Botturi A, Ciappolino V, Delvecchio G, et al. The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020Jun 3;12(6).
  20. Glabska D, Kolota A, Lachowicz K, et al. The Influence of Vitamin D Intake and Status on Mental Health in Children: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2021Mar 16;13(3).
  21. Jamilian H, Amirani E, Milajerdi A, et al. The effects of vitamin D supplementation on mental health, and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2019Aug 30;94:109651.
  22. Kheyruri F, Sarrafzadeh J, Hosseini AF, et al. Randomized Study of the Effects of Vitamin D and Magnesium Co-Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Function, Body Composition, and Inflammation in Vitamin D-Deficient Middle-Aged Women. Biol Trace Elem Res.2021Jul;199(7):2523-34.