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Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for our health.

It is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in our body and is essential for normal functioning of our muscles and nerves, for building bone, promoting normal cellular function, protein synthesis, regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure and more.

In our body half of what we have is found in bone.
The other half is mostly in our cells and just a tiny fraction circulates in our blood.

The new information we now have is that it is also really important in helping us to maintain our ability to learn and keep our memory working well, especially as we age.

That’s according to a new study published in the Jan 28th edition of the journal Neuron.

Boosting our brain with magnesium
Six years ago Professor Gusong Liu and Inna Slutsky published their findings from a study, which revealed that magnesium plays a key role regulating a particular brain receptor that was important for learning and memory.
They also found that magnesium promoted the formation and density of new synapses (the connections between brain cells) especially in the area of the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with spatial awareness and memory. This supported the idea that a deficiency of magnesium could be linked to decreased memory and learning ability.

From these earlier studies, Professor Liu and his team at Tsinhua University, Beijing have now published the results of a new study looking into whether using supplementation to increase brain magnesium improves learning and memory in young and old rats.

To do this they first had to develop a new compound of magnesium called Magnesium L-Threonate, which can be taken up by the brain.

This is because it is very difficult to adequately boost brain levels of magnesium using traditional magnesium supplements.

The control group of rats received a diet containing an adequate amount of magnesium. The second group received a supplemented diet containing magnesium L Threonate (MgT)

The results showed improved learning and memory in both younger and older rats in the supplemented group with improved learning ability, working memory, short and long-term memory.

The exciting conclusion from this is the suggestion that using this new synthetic magnesium may prove useful in the future to help treat or reduce age related cognitive decline.

The other conclusion is that a deficiency of magnesium could be associated with age dependent memory decline and supplementation with the appropriate type of magnesium may help to prevent this.

We get our magnesium from our diet.
Good sources of magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, apples, lemon, grapefruit, cereals and legumes and nuts such as cashews and almonds.

Unfortunately the vast majority of us fall short of our daily requirement. It is estimated that around 30% of Americans fail to reach their daily recommended intake.

The current recommendation for a dietary intake of magnesium is around 400mg per day increasing with age to 420mg per day.

But before you reach for the commercially available magnesium supplements, remember that’s not going to help your brain in the current available forms.

We are going to have to wait until the new supplement of magnesium L Threonate becomes available.

Until it is commercially available and more studies have been done to look into this, we would be well advised to do as our mothers told us and eat all our green leafy vegetables to help keep our minds and memories working well.

And look out for that bunch of really canny rats with super learning ability skills and enhanced memory.

Reference: Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Elevating Brain Magnesium. Neuron, Jan 28th 2010 Inna Slutsky, Nashat Abumaria, long_Jun Wu, Ccao Huang, Ling Zhang, Bo Li, Xiang Zhao, Arvind Govindarajan, Ming-Gao Zhao, Min Zhuo, Susumu Tonegawa and Guosong Liu.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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