Magnesium May Help Maintain Mental Abilities

Posted Fri, 01/29/2010 - 10:24am by Fred Lee

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A recent study has found that increasing amounts of magnesium in the brain improved certain brain functions, including memory and learning, in animal models. The findings support the important role that diet can play in our mental capacities, whereby decline in brain function may be rooted in inadequate levels of magnesium consumption. The data also points to a novel and potentially valid approach to treating cognitive problems.

Magnesium is an important part of normal functioning of many organs, including the bones, muscles, and the brain. Previous experiments had demonstrated that magnesium help to promote “synaptic plasticity” in cultured neural cells, and the current findings represent an extension of those initial results.

It is a challenge, however, to increase levels of magnesium in the brain by simply consuming more of the mineral in the form of oral supplements. What the researchers did was develop a novel compound that contained magnesium that was more efficient at reaching the brain by after ingestion.

What they observed in the study was that by increasing the level of magnesium that reached the brain, learning and memory increased, regardless of age. Examination on the cellular level revealed an increase in synaptic processes as well as a greater number of functional synapses and key signaling molecules.

The authors concluded that this increase was due to the higher levels of magnesium in their diets due to the fact that the control animals were fed a diet that contained what is widely considered a sufficient level of magnesium, and any increases seen in mental performance occurred with higher levels of the mineral.

The findings therefore suggest that higher quantities of magnesium might help to reduce mental decline in people, especially those that occur with age. The study also supports the relationship between our diets and our minds, whereby certain nutrients influence the communication between our neural cells.

We obtain magnesium from both plant and animal sources, where it functions in photosynthetic and metabolic process, respectively. By some estimates, there are nearly 300 biological process in our bodies that require magnesium, including the production of calcium for our bones, the beating of our hearts, and the proper functioning of our brains.

The U.S. recommend daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium is between 300 and 400 milligrams per day, with more for pregnant women. For more information, speak with your physician or a nutrition expert, and check out the website for National Institutes of Health.

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