Good news – magnesium protects against cancer.

The levels of vitamin D, magnesium and calcium were measured to assess whether they might have to do with protection from cancer. The level of vitamin D and magnesium was significantly associated with protection from cancer while calcium level was not. The mechanism of action is not included. (1)

The mechanism of action is likely to involve the control of apoptosis by the active hormone form of vitamin D, calcitriol, (3), and the role of magnesium in providing the energy for apoptosis. (2) White blood cells during times of normal function can identify damaged, old, pre-cancerous, cancerous, or infected or foreign cells and give an enzymatic blast of chemicals that kills the cell and engulfs it completely, before the killed cell can break down and spill its cellular contents into the surrounding area.

An influx of cell contents into the surrounding area would be toxic and potentially lead to more cells being damaged. The enzymatic blast of chemicals of apoptosis requires magnesium, (2), and signaling white blood cells to be in the mode of autophagy requires calcitriol. (3)

“In the context of cancer, calcitriol regulates the cell cycle, induces apoptosis, promotes cell differentiation and acts as anti-inflammatory factor within the tumor microenvironment.”

(Díaz-Muñoz et al., 2015) (3)

“In addition, the impact of Mg2+ on apoptosis initiation and execution in various cells has to be investigated in more detail.”

( Pilchova et al., 2017) (2)

Excessive amounts of vitamin D can be toxic and can be stored in fat tissue. Magnesium levels in the blood represent only one percent of the body’s total amount of magnesium which makes a blood test to check for deficiency not very helpful or accurate except in very severe deficiency – ideally we don’t want to reach severe deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include pain, anxiety, and muscle cramps.

To have adequate supplies of magnesium or vitamin D it is also important to have enough protein food in the diet as both nutrients are stored on transport protein or also ATP molecules in the case of magnesium. The transport protein or ATP molecule holds the vitamin D or magnesium in an inactive form. The body carefully controls how much active hormone D or electrically active ionic magnesium there is available within the cell fluid or in the blood stream.

  • More information about sources of magnesium in the diet or from topical sources (it can be absorbed by the skin through hair follicle pores), is available in this post: To have optimal Magnesium needs Protein and Phospholipids too.
  • More information about symptoms of magnesium deficiency and chronic conditions that may involve low levels of magnesium within cell fluid is available here: Magnesium – essential for eighty percent of our body’s chemistry..
  • More information about how many grams of protein might be needed for health is available in a post about kidney health – adequate water is protective and excessive amounts of protein eaten regularly may be harmful to kidney health over many years (i.e. three ounces of meat in a meal is a healthy amount, while regularly eating an 8-12 ounce steak may eventually be harmful for kidney health): Make every day Kidney Appreciation Day.
  • Vitamin D3 form may be a more bioactive form of the vitamin if taking a supplement than the vitamin D2 form. During spring through autumn months getting 15-30 minutes of midday sunshine with face and arms exposed to the sun can provide enough vitamin D from it being formed in the skin from cholesterol. Vitamin D is actually a seco-steroid and excessive levels of the hormone form can cause mood changes including anger or irritability.
  • It is available in fortified milk & milk substitutes, and in fortified yogurt or cheese, but not necessarily all yogurt or cheese, read the nutrient label. Cod liver oil and some types of fish can provide vitamin D. Egg yolk has a small amount and some types of mushrooms may have a small amount. (healthline.com)
  • The standard RDA amount taken daily (~ 600 IU depending on age and gender) may help the immune system protect against respiratory infection, while taking a mega-dose after an infection occurred did not seem to help with recovery from a respiratory infection. (Vit D Respiratory Infections/bmj.com)

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Reference List

  1. Wesselink E, Kok DE, Bours MJL, et al. Vitamin D, magnesium, calcium, and their interaction in relation to colorectal cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 19]. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;nqaa049. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqaa049 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32190892/?from_term=nutrition&from_filter=ds1.y_1&from_sort=date&from_size=50&from_pos=6
  2. Ivana Pilchova, Katarina Klacanova, Zuzana Tatarkova, et al., The Involvement of Mg2+ in Regulation of Cellular and Mitochondrial Functions. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, Special Issue, Magnesium and Other Biometals in Oxidative Medicine and Redox Biology Vol 2017, 6797460, 8 pages, https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/6797460 https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2017/6797460/
  3. Díaz L, Díaz-Muñoz M, García-Gaytán AC, Méndez I. Mechanistic Effects of Calcitriol in Cancer Biology. Nutrients. 2015;7(6):5020–5050. Published 2015 Jun 19. doi:10.3390/nu7065020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488829/
Good news - magnesium protects against cancer. by

By Jenny

I am a public health nutrition counselor with fifteen years experience in the field of prenatal and early child health and lactation education (breast feeding support). Autoimmune disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and genetic defects that can cause nutrient deficiencies are also research interests.