Magnesium More Important for Brain Health than Suspected
Emerging research suggests that magnesium is crucial for brain health. With the baby boom generation now reaching retirement age, and longer lifespans in general, the issue of cognitive impairment is becoming increasingly important. The human brain begins shrinking after about age 25.
Recent research suggests that raising the brain’s stores of magnesium may halt and even reverse some age-related cognitive decline. If the animal-based research translates to humans, it may be possible to slow the progression of mind-robbing illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, by giving seniors supplemental magnesium. In mouse models of the dreaded human disease, connections between brain cells (synapses) gradually decline. Just as in humans, as more synapses are lost, and communication between brain cells falters, memory begins to fail and thinking becomes more difficult.
But animals fed magnesium-L-threonate (a compound that delivers magnesium to the brain) lost far fewer synapses. The magnesium protected synapses from damage and decline. Researchers are excited by the possibility that this treatment may work to benefit humans at risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Magnesium is one of those essential minerals that often gets overlooked, but its benefits go beyond protecting the brain. Research shows that middle-aged people who get more magnesium in the diet are far less likely to develop diabetes than people with low intakes. It also helps keep high blood pressure in check.
Here’s a two-for-one diet trick: Snack on almonds. They cut hunger, helping you lose weight. They’re also one of the richest sources of magnesium there is. Just one ounce supplies one-fifth of your daily value for this important nutrient. If you don’t like almonds, try peanuts or cashews, which are also rich in magnesium. Other good sources include dark leafy greens and whole grains.
Here’s a suggestion: Toss washed baby spinach leaves with slivered almonds and dress with a mixture of walnut oil and balsamic vinegar. This heart-healthy salad will provide plenty of magnesium and some healthful omega-3 fatty acids. More on that subject tomorrow.
Hruby A, Meigs JB, O'Donnell CJ, Jacques PF, McKeown NM. Higher magnesium intake reduces risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism, and progression from prediabetes to diabetes in middle-aged Americans. Diabetes Care. 2013 Oct 2. [Epub ahead of print]
W. Li, J. Yu, Y. Liu, X. Huang, N. Abumaria, Y. Zhu, X. Huang, W. Xiong, C. Ren, X.-G. Liu, D. Chui, G. Liu. Elevation of Brain Magnesium Prevents and Reverses Cognitive Deficits and Synaptic Loss in Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (19): 8423 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4610-12.2013