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Magnesium’s Importance to Brain Health

Magnesium-rich oatmeal, almonds, blueberry
DIET: MAGNESIUM appears to do more to maintain brain health, prevent cognitive impairment (CI), and fight Alzheimer's Disease (AD), than previously thought. Learn how. (Video+Article)

More magnesium in our daily diet leads to better brain health as we age, according to scientists from the Neuroimaging and Brain Lab at The Australian National University (ANU).  

The researchers say an increased intake of magnesium-rich foods, such as spinach and nuts, could also help reduce the risk of dementia, which is the second leading cause of death in Australia and the seventh biggest killer globally.  

550 Milligrams of Magnesium per Day

The study of more than 6,000 cognitively healthy participants in the United Kingdom, aged 40 to73, found people who consume more than 550 milligrams of magnesium each day have a brain age that is approximately one year younger by the time they reach 55 compared with someone with a normal magnesium intake of about 350 milligrams a day.   (Continued below video…)

“Our study shows a 41 per cent 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,” lead author and PhD researcher Khawlah Alateeq, from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, said.  

“This research highlights the potential benefits of a diet high in magnesium and the role it plays in promoting good brain health.” 

Dementia Prevention through Dietary Strategies

It’s believed the number of people worldwide who will be diagnosed with dementia is expected to more than double from 57.4 million in 2019 to 152.8 million in 2050, placing a greater strain on health and social services and the global economy.  

“Since there is no cure for dementia and the development of pharmacological treatments have been unsuccessful for the past 30 years, it’s been suggested that greater attention should be directed towards prevention,” study co-author Dr Erin Walsh, who is also from ANU, said. 

“Our research could inform the development of public health interventions aimed at promoting healthy brain ageing through dietary strategies.” 

Higher Magnesium from a Younger Age

The researchers say a higher intake of magnesium in our diets from a younger age may safeguard against neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline by the time we reach our 40s.  

“The study shows higher dietary magnesium intake may contribute to neuroprotection earlier in the ageing process and preventative effects may begin in our 40s or even earlier,” Ms Alateeq said. 

“This means people of all ages should be paying closer attention to their magnesium intake. 

Magnesium, Women and Men

“We also found the neuroprotective effects of more dietary magnesium appears to benefit women more than men and more so in post-menopausal than pre-menopausal women, although this may be due to the anti-inflammatory effect of magnesium.” 

Participants completed an online questionnaire five times over a period of 16 months. The responses provided were used to calculate the daily magnesium intake of participants and were based on 200 different foods with varying portion sizes. The ANU team focused on magnesium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains to provide an average estimation of magnesium intake from the participants’ diets. 

How Much Magnesium is Healthy?

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
Birth to 6 months30 mg*30 mg*
7–12 months75 mg*75 mg*
1–3 years80 mg80 mg
4–8 years130 mg130 mg
9–13 years240 mg240 mg
14–18 years410 mg360 mg400 mg360 mg
19–30 years400 mg310 mg350 mg310 mg
31–50 years420 mg320 mg360 mg320 mg
51+ years420 mg320 mg
*Adequate Intake (AI)

Sources of Magnesium

Food

Magnesium is widely distributed in plant and animal foods and in beverages. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources [1,3]. In general, foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium. Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. Some types of food processing, such as refining grains in ways that remove the nutrient-rich germ and bran, lower magnesium content substantially [1]. Selected food sources of magnesium are listed in Table 2.

Tap, mineral, and bottled waters can also be sources of magnesium, but the amount of magnesium in water varies by source and brand (ranging from 1 mg/L to more than 120 mg/L) [8].

Approximately 30% to 40% of the dietary magnesium consumed is typically absorbed by the body [2,9].

FoodMilligrams
(mg) per
Percent
DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce8020
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup7820
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce7419
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup6316
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits6115
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup6115
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup6015
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup5013
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons4912
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices4612
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup4415
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces4311
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup4211
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces4211
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium4010
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet369
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup359
Banana, 1 medium328
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces267
Milk, 1 cup24–276–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces246
Raisins, ½ cup236
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces226
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces205
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup123
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup103
Apple, 1 medium92
Carrot, raw, 1 medium72

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) FoodData Central Web site [(See NIH Magnesium Fact Sheet Reference #10)] lists the nutrient content of many foods and provides a comprehensive list of foods containing magnesium, under the tab, “Branded Foods”.

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Classic Lifecare
Classic Lifecare
October 26, 2016 9:06 pm

Thanks for this. Nutrition is a huge part of maintaining quality of life as we age, and it's something that is often neglected.

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P. Berger

This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. it has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chafe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. Google gets a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia every 7 minutes. That can overwhelm anyone looking for help. This site filters out, focuses on and offers only the best information. It has helped hundreds of thousands of people since it debuted in 2007. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

Peter Berger, Editor

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