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Magnesium supplement could prevent memory loss and disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A magesium compound developed by neuroscientists at MIT and Tsinghua University in Beijing that targets the brain could help prevent memory loss associated with aging. Researchers studied the effect of the supplement magnesium-L-threonate (MgT) on rats, finding improvements in memory in both young and old rats. Boosting magnesium deficiency that affects half the population in industrialized countries could also help prevent disease.

The scientists developed the new magnesium compound in response to a 2004 study showing that the compound could have a positive effect on memory and learning.

Magnesium-L-threonate (MgT) is more effective than traditional oral supplements at raising magnesium levels in the brain. Magnesium deficiency is also linked to increased risk for allergies, asthma and heart disease.

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"We found that elevation of brain magnesium led to significant enhancement of spatial and associative memory in both young and aged rats," said Liu, who is now the director of the Center for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University. "If MgT is shown to be safe and effective in humans, these results may have a significant impact on public health." Liu is cofounder of Magceutics, a California-based company developing drugs for prevention and treatment of age-dependent memory decline and Alzheimer's disease.

Boosting brain levels of magnesium with the newly developed supplement could prevent memory loss that occurs with aging and improve learning ability by improving the connection between neurons in the brain.

The researchers noted improved brain health in the rats used in the study. MgT increased the quality of connections between neurons, and boosted the density of synapses in the area of the brain associated with learning and memory.

The study shows the importance of eating foods rich in magesium for overall health and for a healthy brain. Foods rich in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables and some fruits. The magnesium supplement could be developed for humans to help prevent disease and memory loss associated with aging.

MIT Media Relations