The magnesium-vitamin D connection you need to know about

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When it comes to the long list of supplements out there, magnesium and vitamin D both top the list as ones doctors most recommend. (Probiotics are up there too, by the way.) Not getting enough magnesium can lead to feeling sluggish and stressed out. And vitamin D does more than keep bones strong—it’s also good for your gut. It turns out that they work better together, too: A new study found that taking vitamin D with magnesium is crucial for reaping the benefits. Without the magnesium, it isn’t as well-absorbed.

“People are taking vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized,” Mohammed Razzaque, PhD, and the study’s co-author says. “Without magnesium, it’s not really useful or safe.” Dr. Razzaque, who estimates that half of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium, explains that taking vitamin D on its own does increase the calcium levels in the body, but without the magnesium, the calcium can actually build up in the body, which can lead to kidney disease or other problems. The reason why this can happen is because it’s not being absorbed properly. So that’s where the magnesium comes in.

“People are taking vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, it’s not really useful or safe.”

“By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on vitamin D supplements,” Dr. Razzaque says.

Fortunately both nutrients are found in many delicious, everyday foods. Dark leafy greens, nuts, tofu, and brown rice are all powerhouse sources for magnesium, while eggs, fish, dairy, fortified nut milks, and mushrooms all have vitamin D. And it just so happens that a lot of those foods taste pretty darn good together.

Speaking of getting all your needed nutrients, check out this food versus supplements guide to see exactly how much you would have to eat to get everything you need from food alone. And when you’re buying supplements, here’s what to keep in mind so you know you are getting your money’s worth.

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