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Why You Need This Mineral to Combat Coronavirus

A neuroscience professor explains why you need sufficient intake of this one mineral to promote immunity.
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As the pandemic persists, efforts to support your immune system should continue to be made in order to increase your chances of staying healthy this summer—and beyond. While you likely already know that vitamin D plays a key role in promoting immunity, did you know that you need one mineral to supplement it in order to reap all of its benefits?

Nicole Avena—Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University—illustrates why you need adequate intake of magnesium to properly activate and absorb vitamin D.

What is magnesium and why is it important and how much should you consume daily?

Avena says that magnesium is a mineral that's important for supporting bone health, heart rhythm, and regulating blood pressure. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 400 to 420 milligrams per day. To meet that amount, you could eat one of the following (for example):

  • 2 ounces of dry roasted almonds
  • 1 cup of boiled spinach
  • 1 cup of soymilk
  • 2 ounces of dry-roasted cashews and 1 cup of black beans

RELATED: 20 Surprising Foods That Wreak Havoc On Your Immune System

Why is vitamin D important and how much should you consume daily?

Vitamin D provides a slew of health benefits to our body. For example, it's responsible for facilitating the gut's absorption of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which is critical for maintaining good bone health. However, it's not always the easiest vitamin to source from food.

"Vitamin D is harder to get from food because not as many foods contain it naturally," says Avena. "However, many food products are fortified with Vitamin D."

The RDA for vitamin D is 15 to 20 micrograms per day, which you get from the following foods:

  • 4 oz of rainbow trout
  • 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil
  • 1 cup of white mushrooms

Why is it important to get enough vitamin D during the pandemic?

Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in supporting your immune system, and having a deficiency in it can leave you immunocompromised, says Avena. Those who live in Northern climates are typically at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency because they aren't exposed to as much sunlight, which helps the body create vitamin D3. Conversely, there are people that do get sufficient exposure to the sun that may not be properly absorbing the vitamin.

"Magnesium is needed to help our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight," says Avena. "It also helps to transport vitamin D in supplement form into the body to be used in cells."

Again, vitamin D isn't accessible in a lot of foods, which is why it may be necessary for you to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Make sure you're eating enough magnesium-rich foods as you soak up the sun this summer. Your immune system will appreciate it.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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