More magnesium keeps your brain alert and prevents dementia
The number of older people is on the rise, and so is the number of people who suffer from dementia and die as a result of this condition. If you increase your dietary intake of magnesium, however, and get more than what is officially recommended, it helps keep your brain sharp and prevents dementia, according to a large population study that is published in European Journal of Nutrition. Many older people don’t eat enough and even take different kinds of medicine that block the body’s uptake and utilization of magnesium. So, how does magnesium affect the brain and nervous system? And how much do we need to stay mentally alert throughout life? Those are the questions.
According to the large population study that was carried out by scientists from The Australian National University, dementia is the second-leading cause of death among Australians and the seventh most frequent cause of death globally. The study included more than 6,000 participants from Great Britain who had been recruited from the UK Biobank – a large database. The participants were aged 40-73 years and their daily intake of magnesium from foods such as vegetables, wholegrains, kernels, and nuts, was assessed online by use of a dietary questionnaire for a period of 16 months.
Afterwards, the scientists looked at a possible relation between magnesium intake, brain volume, and brain health. It turns out that the brain often shrinks as a result of ageing and that can lead to dementia and other neurological diseases.
The study revealed that increased dietary magnesium intake was directly linked to larger brain volume and larger hippocampal volume in both men and women. Participants in the middle of their fifties who consumed more than 550 mg of magnesium daily had a brain age that was around one year less than the participants who only got the recommended amount of magnesium (around 350 mg).
A daily magnesium intake of 550 mg, which is 41 percent higher than the officially recommended intake, contributes to keeping the brain intact. This is linked to better cognitive skills and a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
More and more people are affected by dementia but therapies over the last 30 years have not been successful. Therefore, the scientists say that we should focus much more on ways to prevent the disease.
We therefore need to step up our magnesium intake by eating more coarse greens because this can help protect against neurological disorders and cognitive decline, which typically begins around the age of 40. Women seem to have the greatest advantage of increasing their magnesium intake, especially after menopause.
- The number of dementia patients is expected to increase from 57.4 million in 2019 to 152.8 million in 2050
- The treatments have not been successful and we should therefore focus more on prevention
How can magnesium improve brain health and prevent dementia?
Magnesium is one of the minerals that we need in the greatest quantities. It is involved in over 300 different enzyme processes that are important for bones, muscles, nerves, fluid balance, blood sugar levels, digestion, and many other functions. With regard to brain health, magnesium has the following functions:
- Counteracts oxidative stress where free radicals cause damage to cells, including brain neurons and the hippocampus.
- Counteracts systemic inflammation in the brain.
- Improves synaptic plasticity where neurons exchange information.
- Regulates the calcium uptake in neurons, where calcium flooding may cause cellular stress and cell death
- Counteracts atherosclerosis and improves cardiovascular health
- Helps maintain the brain volume
The scientists conclude that a magnesium intake higher than the recommended intake level is linked to improved brain health in the general population.
- Magnesium is found in coarse greens, wholegrains, nuts, kernels, etc.
- Fertilizers, pesticides, and depleted soil all impair the uptake of magnesium in plants.
- Diuretics, antacids, and antihypertensive medication impair the body’s magnesium uptake.
Khawlah Alateeq et al. Dietary magnesium intake is related to larger brain volumes and lower white matter lesions with notable sex differences. European Journal of Nutrition, 2023
Australian National University. A higher dose of magnesium each day keeps dementia at bay. ScienceDaily. March, 2023
Stephen J Genuis and Edmund Kyrillos. Drugs which create deficiencies in vitamin D, Vitamin K, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron etc. Toxicol Mech Methods 2017
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