Did you know that magnesium is a vital mineral for maintaining optimal brain health? It has a host of brain benefits and plays a crucial role in brain function, including energy production, neurotransmitter regulation, and neuron support.
Now the latest research reveals another reason magnesium may be so vital to the brain: It stops age-related shrinking of brain tissue that can dimmish your cognitive function and steal your memory.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can ensure you’re getting enough magnesium to protect your memory…
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in several aspects of brain function. It is involved in numerous biochemical reactions that contribute to overall cognitive function and mental well-being.
As we’ve reported in the past, it’s crucial for you to maintain a balanced diet with adequate magnesium intake to support healthy brain function and prevent mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, brain fog, and memory loss. What’s more, as you age you will probably need more magnesium to maintain healthy magnesium levels than you did when you were younger.
What magnesium does for your brain
Magnesium plays an essential role in the production of energy necessary for optimal brain function and maintenance of a healthy blood pressure. It is necessary for the activation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy within the body.
Moreover, magnesium assists in the transfer of blood sugar into muscles and the elimination of lactate, which can accumulate during physical activity and lead to exhaustion.
By ensuring adequate magnesium levels, we can support our brain’s energy needs and ensure it functions optimally. In addition, magnesium:
- Regulates neurotransmitters involved in memory: Magnesium plays an important role in the regulation of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. They’re indispensable for communication between brain cells. Proper neurotransmitter balance is crucial for mood regulation, the formation of learning and memory, and cognitive function.
- Is essential for synaptic plasticity, a driver of cognitive function: Synaptic plasticity refers to the ability of synapses (connections between nerve cells) to strengthen or weaken over time. This phenomenon is fundamental for a brain to function well, especially in the areas of learning and memory. Magnesium helps by supporting synaptic plasticity, which in turn improves your cognitive function and your memory.
- Supports the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor: This is a type of receptor involved in learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity. Magnesium helps regulate the activity of NMDA receptors by blocking excessive calcium, which can be harmful to nerve cells. Proper NMDA receptor function is essential for maintaining healthy brain activity and cognitive function.
- Fights inflammation: Chronic inflammation is associated with various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease as well as cognitive decline. Magnesium possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can contribute to brain health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Promotes blood flow to the brain: Strong magnesium levels also support healthy blood flow and circulation, ensuring that the brain receives enough oxygen and nutrients. This is crucial for maintaining cognitive function and a sharp memory.
But perhaps most exciting is the new research that shows magnesium stops brain shrinkage and makes your brain younger.
Stops Brain Shrinking
One of the most important ways magnesium helps your brain is to stop its tissues from aging– shriveling up and shrinking away. It’s a process similar to what happens to a cotton shirt that’s been run through the dryer one too many times.
While your brain will inevitably shrink as you get older, as we’ve reported before, if your brain is healthy and working the way it should, the loss of brain volume is very slow and gradual. But if it accelerates at a speedy clip, you’re probably in for brain fog and memory trouble.
When brain tissue atrophies or shrivels up too fast, your memory is impaired and you may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
550 mg of magnesium: Shaves a year off brain age
A study by scientists at the Australian National University demonstrates that people who consume adequate amounts of the mineral magnesium possess larger and younger brains than folks who consume too little.
The research involved an analysis of the health records of about 6,000 people aged 43 to 70. The researchers report that people who took in 550 milligrams of magnesium daily have a brain age that is about a year younger by the time they get to age 55 than others who only consume about 350 milligrams a day. That bears repeating– just 550 milligrams a day can shave an entire year of aging from your brain.
“Our study shows a 41 percent increase in magnesium intake could lead to less age-related brain shrinkage, which is associated with better cognitive function and lower risk or delayed onset of dementia in later life,” says researcher Khawlah Alateeq, PhD. “This research highlights the potential benefits of a diet high in magnesium and the role it plays in promoting good brain health.”
It’s also important to note that 350 milligrams of magnesium is approximately what the average person gets each day, which is far less than the amount the study found to be beneficial.
Delays dementia and more brain benefits
Other research points to additional brain benefits of increasing your magnesium intake including:
- Better cognitive function and delayed dementia: Research has indicated that a higher magnesium intake is associated with improved cognitive health and can help preserve cognitive function and lower your risk of dementia or delay the onset of the disease.
- Extra protection in lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease: A study in Japan of older people showed that consuming more magnesium is linked to a lower chance of Parkinson’s. And scientists in Italy note that magnesium may fend off Parkinson’s by decreasing oxidative stress among neurons, reducing neuroinflammation and keeping cellular signaling operating properly among brain cells. Plus, it increases the supply of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which helps neurons survive. We’ve written about the importance of BDNF to memory and cognitive function many times before.
- Reducing the risk of epilepsy: While not many studies have probed the precise relationship between epilepsy and magnesium in adults, those that have examined the connection indicate that getting more of this mineral may lower the risk of the condition. A study in India discovered that having a fairly low level of magnesium may bring on epilepsy. And studies of infants show that when they’re drastically deficient in the mineral they are more vulnerable to epileptic fits.
- Defending against stroke: When researchers in Asia looked at the relationship between magnesium consumption and stroke they found that the people who consumed the most magnesium were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than the people who consumed the least. Scientists in Spain report that their review of studies on the relationship between magnesium and stroke supports the Asian researchers’ findings.
Unfortunately, half of all Americans, along with citizens of other industrialized countries, don’t consume enough magnesium for adequate protection against these health problems. The results can be disastrous to your memory and mood.
What happens when you don’t have enough magnesium?
Magnesium deficiency can lead to various mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as brain fog and memory loss. One reason has been identified by researchers.
The science suggests that magnesium deficiency results in decreased cellular messaging and increased inflammation within the brain, potentially contributing to the development of dementia and other neurologic conditions.
Anxiety, increased stress, depression, insomnia or sleep disturbances, headaches or muscle pain or tightness, and fatigue are all linked to low magnesium levels.
Increasing your levels of magnesium
To get more magnesium from food, you should eat more spinach and broccoli as well as other leafy vegetables. Fruit contains a fair amount of magnesium as do almonds and cashews. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and beans are also good sources.
Consuming these foods not only provides the body with essential minerals, but also supports optimal brain functioning. It’s also a good idea to supplement if you want to reach the level of magnesium shown in research to stop brain shrinkage.
Choosing the right magnesium supplement for brain health is crucial, with magnesium citrate, taurate, threonate, and glycinate being the most effective options. These forms of magnesium demonstrate superior bioavailability and the capacity to traverse the blood-brain barrier, making them ideal for supporting brain health.
If you decide to take magnesium supplements, take care with mega doses to avoid side effects. For example, you could experience muscle weakness, fatigue, blood pressure problems, shortness of breath or diarrhea.
The Aging Defeated Team
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