vitamin D synergistic nutrients

Eight Synergistic Nutrients That Work With Vitamin D

You probably already know about the incredible importance of vitamin D for protecting your bones, muscle, and immune system. But did you know that vitamin D requires synergistic “helper” nutrients to do its job properly?

Nutrients Work Together

Due to a combination of marketing and misinformation, many people think of the elements of nutrition as unique individual pieces. In fact, nutrients act in a coordinated manner. Absorption and metabolism of a particular nutrient is often dependent on the availability of other key nutrients.

For example, vitamin D relies on calcium and vitamin K2 to turn vitamin D into the active form that can build bone. And zinc is necessary for vitamin D cell receptors to bind with vitamin D properly. Being a good friend, vitamin D works synergistically with these same nutrients, allowing the body to properly use magnesium, vitamin K, calcium, zinc, and selenium for protective benefits.

This article will cover how these nutrients work together with vitamin D in a synergistic fashion to keep you healthy and fit.

What Are The Benefits of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a hormone-like nutrient that is critical for human survival. It has the following therapeutic effects in the body (1):

  • Strengthens bone density and reduces risk of fracture.
  • Supports immunity and your body’s response to pathogens.
  • Has anti-inflammatory action and supports the heart and blood vessels.
  • Reduces risk of mortality and disease by launching the body’s antioxidant response and balancing hormones.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity and helps the body regulate glucose levels.
Together Magnesium & Vitamin D Make Everything Better

Magnesium and vitamin D are true best friends, “helping” each other in unique ways to protect human health. For instance, vitamin D allows for absorption of magnesium in the GI tract. Always one to reciprocate, magnesium determines the number of vitamin D receptors, which influences the ability of vitamin D to bind and act on a cell.

Magnesium allows the production of enzymes that turn on the active form of vitamin D. It is also necessary for carrier proteins that transport vitamin D to target tissues in the blood.

When vitamin D is lacking, magnesium can step in when it comes to preserving bone health:

In a study of postmenopausal women who were losing bone, supplementation with magnesium reduced bone turnover. Markers of bone-building osteocalcin increased by 44 percent in women who received oral magnesium compared to a 5 percent decrease in those who didn’t supplement (2).

Scientists theorize that consuming the RDA of magnesium may be more effective in preventing bone thinning than taking vitamin D alone since vitamin D will be inactive without adequate magnesium. Additionally, magnesium binds at the surface of the crystals in bone to determine growth, making magnesium-deficient bones more brittle bones and prone to fractures

Better Together: Probiotics & Vitamin D

Emerging research shows that if your gut isn’t working like clockwork, you’re much more likely to be at risk of low vitamin D. A poorly functioning gut impairs intestinal absorption of vitamin D from food or supplements. Even people who live in sunny winter climates are at risk of vitamin D deficiency because gut problems lower the body’s natural ability to produce vitamin D.

Making matters worse: Vitamin D directly affects gut health, so if your levels are low, GI function goes south along with your body’s ability to absorb and make new vitamin D. It’s a problem that can spiral out of control because vitamin D directly effects the healthy bacteria that protect your GI tract in the following ways:

Decreases growth of harmful bacteria that cause dysbiosis.

Enhances intestinal barrier function so that fewer “toxins” escape and hit the blood stream.

Increases antimicrobial immune cells that protect you from pathogens.

Co-supplementing vitamin D with probiotics has shown several protective effects, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering inflammation, improving markers of bone health, and reducing mental health issues including depression and anxiety (3).

Calcium & Vitamin D—A Dynamic Duo

Calcium is crucial for bone health by strengthening the scaffolding for bone building. Vitamin D enables calcium to be absorbed in the GI tract. This is especially important when calcium intake is limited (4).

Many people don’t realize that a poor ability to absorb nutrients in the gut is a major obstacle to health. When the gut isn’t working well, vital nutrients you need for everything from immunity to brain function are simply lost in urine (3). Vitamin D binds with cells in the GI tract to improve absorption so that your bones get the calcium they need.

Vitamin K Is Vitamin D’s Wingman

Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble nutrient that works with vitamin D and calcium to build bone (5, 6). First, it increases enzymes that activate vitamin-D made proteins that are involved in bone building. Vitamin K2 also helps proteins in the body collect more calcium, which supports skeletal health and prevents buildup in the arteries that progress to heart disease. Working synergistically with vitamin D, vitamin K are two nutrients that can improve insulin levels and blood pressure and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Boron Is Vitamin D’s Super “Helper”

Boron is a mineral that basically loves to help out other nutrients: Boron gives magnesium a hand by improving absorption, minimizes calcium loss from bone, and increases enzymes that activate vitamin D.

Boron directly decreases bone loss and has anti-inflammatory action in many tissues in the body. It also supports hormone balance along with vitamin D. Vitamin D has anti-aromatase action, preventing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Finally, boron suppresses activity of enzymes responsible for catabolizing sex hormones—a combination that allows for higher free testosterone in men and estrogen in post-menopausal women (4)

Zinc Helps Vitamin D Receptors Work At Their Best

Deficiency in vitamin D often coincides with lack of zinc—a trace mineral with powerful immune action that plays a role in growth and development. Zinc also protects the body from inflammation-related diseases. Vitamin D promotes zinc absorption in the gut and zinc is a component in vitamin D receptors—the special areas in the cell that vitamin D “fits” into (like a lock and key) and acts like an “on” switch for a particular activity in the cell (7).

Melatonin & Vitamin D Team Up For Immune Health

Melatonin—best known as the “sleep” hormone—teams up with vitamin D to raise immune function and protect against viruses. In the case of COVID, we know that the coronavirus enters host cells by binding its spike protein to ACE2 receptors that are a component of the body’s system that manages blood pressure (8, 9). Melatonin and vitamin D protect these cells from a “cytokine storm” that occurs when inflammatory molecules attack healthy lung tissue in COVID.

Melatonin also reduces lung injury and inflammation in several disorders that affect the lungs, including asthma, cigarette smoking, and lung fibrosis (9). Pretreatment with melatonin is effective in reducing lung damage in patients subjected to chemotherapy and it has been shown to prevent COPD.

Selenium Works Synergistically With Vitamin D

Selenium is a trace mineral that enhances levels of active vitamin D in cells, such as those of the immune system and the endothelium that protects the blood vessels and heart (10). Vitamin D also enhances selenium status, raising selenium’s ability to prevent hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease, known as atherosclerosis.

Best known for antioxidant effects, selenium recycles the endogenous “master” antioxidant glutathione. Interestingly, when glutathione levels are depleted due to suboptimal selenium, vitamin D stimulates production of glutathione peroxidase, the enzyme responsible for making glutathione active in the body. Selenium also reduces cytokine-stimulated inflammation in endothelial cells. Selenium and vitamin D work together to further reduces the inflammation, enhancing both immune and endothelial function for better overall health.

What does all this mean for me?

With so many nutrients working together, it’s important that you eat a well-rounded diet that is rich in nutrients from whole foods. It’s worth putting just as much effort into getting your vitamin D as taking magnesium zinc, boron, vitamin K, selenium, and calcium. This can be done by taking a high quality multi-nutrient supplement, such as our Core Essentials, or by mixing and matching to fill the nutritional holes in your diet.

For probiotics and melatonin, you may want to supplement separately because they are not included in a Multi. Melatonin is a hormone and sleep aid that should only be taken at night. Older adults and those who have trouble sleeping are at risk of low melatonin.

For probiotics, you want a high-quality product that is specially formulated to survive stomach acid in the GI tract, such as our Proflora Excellence. Probiotics are only protective if they are alive to colonize your GI tract and support absorption of vitamin D and all its friends!




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