September 25, 2021

New study demonstrates low magnesium levels associated with increased dementia risk

Dementia affects one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It is important to recognize that dementia begins long before symptoms start just like many other conditions. There is evidence that prevention strategies may reduce the risk by as much as 50%.

According to a new study published last week in Nutrients, researchers investigated the role of magnesium levels in cognitive decline and dementia over a 27-year period. Magnesium is often cited as the nutrient most deficit and has been shown to have beneficial effects in multiple chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Since these conditions increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, magnesium may have a protective role.

This study was a large, community-based cohort including 12,040 participants that did not have dementia in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Serum magnesium levels were measured in 1990 through 1992. Dementia status was determined by cognitive examinations performed in 2011–2013, 2016–2017, 2018–2019 as well as from interviews, dementia related hospitalization events, and death. Each patient’s cognitive functioning was assessed up to 5 times between 1990–1992 and 2018–2019.

The research team identified 2,519 cases of dementia over an average follow-up period of 24 years. As a results, the lowest quintile of serum magnesium was associated with a 24% higher rate of incident dementia compared to those in the highest quintile of magnesium even after adjusting for demographics, lifestyle, cardiovascular risk factors, APOE4 carrier status, and other micronutrients. No relationship was found between serum magnesium and cognitive decline.

In summary, low serum magnesium is associated with increased risk of dementia but did not appear to impact rates of cognitive decline but It is important to note that cognitive performance at visit 2 was poorer among participants with lower serum magnesium compared to those with higher magnesium.

Magnesium targets numerous pathways in the pathology of dementia. Magnesium is able to inhibit excitotoxicity of NMDA receptors and inhibit excessive beta-amyloid production. An ideal form of magnesium for these individuals would be magnesium glycinate and magnesium l-threonate. Mangesium glycinate is a great bioavailable form of magnesium that can be used to increase intracellular levels of magnesium and magnesium l-threonate is a novel form of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier and increases brain magnesium levels. There have been a few human studies demonstrating its effects in Alzheimer’s’ disease and mild cognitive impairment.

Other brain supportive nutrients to consider are GPC, CDP-choline, gingko biloba, phosphatidylserine, curcumin, folate, cobalamin, and fish oil.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Alam A, Lutsey P, et al. Low Serum Magnesium is Associated with Incident Dementia in the ARIC-NCS Cohort. Nutrients 9 October 2020, 12(10), 3074.


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