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Magnesium In Balance May Help Prevent Alzheimers Disease

hazelnuts and Alzheimer's Disease

Blood levels of magnesium should neither be too high or too low to reduce your risk of dementia, according to the latest study.


Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body and a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions such as protein synthesis, muscle function and blood pressure regulation. It is also an essential nutrient for the brain and has been previously been shown to have positive effects in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

But too many people read these studies and assume that they need to suddenly begin taking supplements. Before you do that, remember, that our bodies like balance. And magnesium is no different.

Dutch researchers found that blood magnesium levels that are too low or too high may put us at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. In a study that consisted of more than 9500 men and women (average age 65), those with both the highest and the lowest levels appeared to have an increased risk of dementia by as much as 30%.

Obviously, the best way to know if you are deficient in magnesium is to have a blood test. Currently, it isn’t the norm to measure many vitamins and minerals on a regular basis unless there is a specific reason to feel that you are low.

Probably the best place to start is your diet: Are you getting in good sources every day of magnesium, which include vegan foods such as spinach, almonds, cashews, soy and black beans, whole grains, and avocados.

Other things to consider:
• Do you regularly drink carbonated beverages? Most dark colored sodas contain phosphates which bind with magnesium inside the digestive tract so that it is not available for absorption.

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• Excessive intake of sugar may cause the body to excrete magnesium through the kidneys. Caffeine may also influence magnesium levels.

• Alcohol intake can lower the magnesium available to cells, again by increasing excretion through the kidneys.

• What kind of water do you regularly drink? “Hard Water” may contain up to 30 mg/L of magnesium.

• Certain medications can interfere with magnesium balance, including proton pump inhibitors used for heartburn. Diuretics for high blood pressure may also deplete magnesium.

If you believe that you are at risk for magnesium deficiency, see your doctor about getting a blood test prior to taking supplements.

It is much more likely for the general public to have magnesium levels that are too low than too high, but if you have kidney failure or are taking drugs that contain magnesium (such as some antacids or laxatives), you may want to be sure that your blood levels are in normal range.

Brenda C.T. Kieboom et al, Serum magnesium is associated with the risk of dementia. Published online before print September 20, 2017, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000004517Neurology 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004517

R Swaminathan, Magnesium Metabolism and its Disorders. Clin Biochem Rev. 2003 May; 24(2): 47–66.
Merck Manual