Showing posts with label mild cognitive impairment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mild cognitive impairment. Show all posts

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Magnesium: A Cure for Alzheimer's?

New Alzheimer’s research suggests actual prevention and even curative powers from magnesium.

Scientists project that the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's – the most common type of dementia – will increase dramatically worldwide in the coming decades, burdening health service and social programs. This memory-deteriorating disorder, caused by brain disease or injury, results in memory confusion, impaired reasoning, and changes in personality that impinge on the quality of life for its sufferers and their families. But recent research offers extraordinary hope in a highly accessible form – not an expensive, experimental drug, but a common, abundantly available mineral: magnesium

Some research indicates that increased magnesium intake can reduce dementia risk or slow down dementia’s takeover of the brain. But researchers from one recent study make an even bolder statement, concluding from their research that higher magnesium intake not only reduces dementia risk but can prevent and even reverse the effects of dementia, such as cognitive deficits and synaptic loss.

Caution: Some minerals good, some bad for dementia

Before you take this news about magnesium intake to heart and start gobbling down mineral tablets, be careful; researchers also report that increased intake of certain other minerals can increase the risk of developing dementia conditions, such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and other mild cognitive disorders (MCD).

For example, researchers involved in an 8-year study reported in 2014 that higher magnesium intake reduced the risk of developing MCI/MCD – that’s the good news – but they also determined that higher intake of potassium and iron increased the risk of developing MCI/MCD.

Beyond slowing dementia development – a cure?

Last year, Professor Guosong Liu's "biophysics of memory” laboratory at Tsinghua University, Beijing, reported the results of their study on mice that indicated magnesium as a mechanism for reversing cognitive decline for those in advanced stage Alzheimer's disease. Their results also showed magnesium intake as a functional long-term treatment for those in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease.

The Tsinghua University experiment involved increasing brain magnesium levels, using an approach that differed from previous studies on Alzheimer's disease. Magnesium, unlike drugs that have been tested for dementia influence, magnesium rested, rather than stimulated, brain cells, preventing non-specific activation and, in the process, reversing brain aging activity and restoring it to a more youthful state.

The result: a dramatic reversal of cognitive decline, and equally dramatic improvement in advanced stage Alzheimer's disease. As well, the results showed magnesium as an effective long-term treatment for early stage Alzheimer's disease.  As a medical bonus, the researchers found that elevating brain magnesium proved helpful in reducing fear memory and anxiety.

While the study used mice as subjects, the researchers plan to launch human clinical trials this year, working with Stanford University.

What foods provide magnesium?

According to NIH, the diets of most people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls are most likely to be taking insufficient amounts of magnesium.

The NIH chart to the right shows the recommended daily amount of magnesium in milligrams.

But do you need magnesium supplements to reach the recommended amount of magnesium? Not necessarily; without supplementing your diet at all, you may be getting sufficient magnesium from your daily food intake, either from foods that naturally contain magnesium or from mineral-fortified foods.

To strive for sufficient magnesium intake from your diet, NIH recommends that you look to the following:
  • Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
  • Milk, yogurt, and some other milk products

Magnesium risks: Can you take too much magnesium? 

That depends. NIH advises that magnesium obtained from foods where it is naturally present (such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables) is not harmful to you.  So, eat up!

But magnesium from dietary supplements or medications can be overdone.  And too much of a good thing, as they say, is not a good thing.  In the case of magnesium, too much of it can lead to diarrhea, nausea, or abdominal cramping. And higher magnesium intake can even cause irregular heartbeats or cardiac arrest.

Consequently, if you determine that you are getting enough magnesium from natural sources, you may be better off not using magnesium supplements, or using them judiciously.

Magnesium forms your body can absorb

If you do decide to take magnesium dietary supplements, be advised that not all forms are as accessible to your body on a cellular level. NIH advises that the most easily absorbed forms of magnesium in dietary supplements are magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium chloride.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer