Although much is known about magnesium, its interactions with calcium and vitamin D are less well studied. Magnesium intake is low in populations who consume modern processed-food diets. Low magnesium intake is associated with chronic diseases of global concern [e.g., cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and skeletal disorders], as is low vitamin D status. No simple, reliable biomarker for whole-body magnesium status is currently available, which makes clinical assessment and interpretation of human magnesium research difficult. Between 1977 and 2012, US calcium intakes increased at a rate 2-2.5 times that of magnesium intakes, resulting in a dietary calcium to magnesium intake ratio of >3.0. Calcium to magnesium ratios <1.7 and >2.8 can be detrimental, and optimal ratios may be ∼2.0. Background calcium to magnesium ratios can affect studies of either mineral alone. For example, US studies (background Ca:Mg >3.0) showed benefits of high dietary or supplemental magnesium for CVD, whereas similar Chinese studies (background Ca:Mg <1.7) showed increased risks of CVD. Oral vitamin D is widely recommended in US age-sex groups with low dietary magnesium. Magnesium is a cofactor for vitamin D biosynthesis, transport, and activation; and vitamin D and magnesium studies both showed associations with several of the same chronic diseases. Research on possible magnesium and vitamin D interactions in these human diseases is currently rare. Increasing calcium to magnesium intake ratios, coupled with calcium and vitamin D supplementation coincident with suboptimal magnesium intakes, may have unknown health implications. Interactions of low magnesium status with calcium and vitamin D, especially during supplementation, require further study.
© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.