According to a study, magnesium has such a positive effect on brain health that it may guard against dementia. A higher brain volume and fewer lesions (damage) are found in people who have particularly high levels of this mineral in their diet.
Researchers at ANU discovered that our brains stay healthier as we age by increasing our consumption of magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. Dementia is a leading cause of death in Germany and Australia.
For the study, more than 6000 people were looked at. They were between 40 and 73 years old and didn't have any problems with their thinking yet. People who ate more than 550 mg of magnesium every day had brains that looked 1 year younger at age 55 than those who only ate 350 mg of magnesium every day.
Lower risk of dementia with higher magnesium intake
Our study showed that eating 41% more magnesium could slow the shrinking of the brain that comes with getting older. This is linked to better brain function and a lower risk of dementia. Even if you get Alzheimer's, it won't show up until much later if you eat a lot of magnesium.
The number of people with dementia worldwide is estimated to have almost tripled to more than 150 million by 2050.
Since there is no cure for dementia and efforts over the last 30 years to develop drugs for the disease have been unsuccessful, we should focus more on prevention".
Dr Erin Walsh, one of the researchers involved in the study, said. "Our study can provide important information for dietary interventions to help us grow old with a healthy brain."
Cognitive decay already begins in the forties
Those who eat more magnesium-rich foods in their younger or middle years will be better protected against neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline in old age. This is because cognitive decline begins in the forties or even earlier, so we cannot start early enough with a neuroprotective diet.
Women after menopause benefit more from a magnesium-rich diet in terms of brain protection than younger women due to higher inflammation levels. This is likely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of magnesium.
Other risk factors were considered in the study, such as age, obesity, cholesterol levels, education level, diabetes, smoking status, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.
Magnesium is therefore, clearly necessary for a healthy brain. A magnesium deficiency is thus involved in brain ageing, can contribute to neurodegeneration, and eventually promotes dementia.
How does magnesium protect the brain?
Magnesium protects our nerves and brain through several mechanisms: Magnesium improves cardiovascular health by relaxing blood vessels and having a positive effect on blood pressure, thereby assisting in the reduction of high blood pressure, which is considered a risk factor for dementia. The mineral can significantly reduce age-related neurodegeneration simply by regulating blood pressure (degeneration of the nerves and brain).
Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, such as inhibiting pro-inflammatory messenger substances and regulating the excitability of the NMDA receptor. The NMDA receptor is particularly active in the early stages of dementia (particularly Alzheimer's disease). Magnesium slows it down. As a result, the vital substance shields the nerves from inflammatory processes, which are always present in the development of dementia. Magnesium promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new nerve cells) while inhibiting neurodegeneration (the breakdown of nerve cells). Both result in the retention of cognitive functions.
Foods such as green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grain products are considered rich in magnesium. We explain here how to eat a healthy diet rich in magnesium. If you find it difficult to eat a diet rich in magnesium, you could take about 400 mg of magnesium in addition to your diet with this * magnesium supplement.