Immune Health – Magnesium and Vitamin D Working in Harmony
Immunity is the ability of the body to defend itself against disease-causing organisms and we have heard a lot in the media just lately about how our immune status is important in the health outcome from infections such as COVID-19.
If disease-causing organisms are able to penetrate our skin or the mucous membranes of our innate immune system, biochemical mechanisms in our bodies quickly identify the invading organisms and start the process of destroying and eliminating the threat by producing a number of immune cells, cell signalling molecules or antibodies. This is known as an immune response.
What is not always appreciated is that every stage of the immune response is reliant on the presence of certain micronutrients (1). This means that where specific micronutrients are not sufficient in the diet, people can be more susceptible to infection and disease. For example, in COVID-19 disease it has been highlighted that there are very poor outcomes in patients with micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamin A, D and C, zinc, selenium, copper and magnesium (1,2).
The micronutrients, magnesium and vitamin D are particularly interesting because of their importance in the immune response and also because of their interrelationship. Magnesium acts with, and is essential for, the metabolism of vitamin D and if either is deficient then there is decreased resistance to bacterial and fungal infection, especially respiratory tract infections, with increased severity, morbidity and mortality (1).
Micronutrients clearly play an integral part in immunity and the body needs optimal levels for an effective immune response. Data from the European Nutrition and Health Report and The United States Department of Agriculture indicates that only 25-50% of people have an adequate intake of many micronutrients and that 25-75% have a dietary intake that is less than the recommended daily allowance (micronutrient dependent). For example, the reported intakes in Europe for vitamin D was inadequate for all age groups. Intakes were also inadequate for magnesium in children >10 years and all adults (1).
There are many reasons for the inadequate intakes of micronutrients but the gap that exists between dietary intakes and levels for optimal immunity provides a good reason to increase micronutrient intake to help support the immune system and reduce the risk of infection (1).
One way to improve magnesium and potassium in our diets is to correct the composition of extensively used processed foods such as bread, meat and ready meals and the seasonings we use at home. This is the essence of the philosophy behind the development of Suölo® Reduced Sodium Sea Salt which has 50% less sodium with added potassium and magnesium. By using this approach it is possible to balance minerals in foods prepared at home, that are made in restaurants or are bought from the supermarket. In this way everyone can benefit from a reduction in salt while increasing valuable magnesium and potassium.
- Gombart AF et al., A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System- Working in harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients 2020 Jan16; 12(1):236, doi: 10.3390/nu12010236
- Altooq N et al., The role of micronutrients in the management of COVID-19 and optimizing vaccine efficacy Human Nutrition & Metabolism 2022 27, 200141 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hnm.2022.200141