(NaturalHealth365) According to the CDC, more than 16 million older Americans suffer from cognitive impairment – a condition that is gradually stealing their memories and interfering with daily functioning. And the problem – which many experts say has reached “epidemic” levels – is expected to worsen exponentially as a generation of “baby boomers” approach their senior years with ever-increasing exposure to environmental toxins and nutrients deficiencies like, magnesium.
Magnesium deficiency, widespread in the United States, is drawing researchers’ interest as a possible contributor to age-related cognitive dysfunction. Scientists have long known, Alzheimer’s disease patients almost always show decreased serum and brain magnesium levels.
In fact, emerging studies suggest that magnesium deficiency in adults plays a much larger role in cognitive impairment, and in Alzheimer’s disease, than has been previously suspected. The good news? With promising results in clinical and animal studies, magnesium seems poised to play a major role in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.
The surprising truth about the prevalence of magnesium deficiency
In 2013, Dr. Peter Osborne, a doctor of chiropractic and board-certified clinical nutritionist, reported that roughly 50 million Americans are magnesium deficient. Dr. Osborne attributes the deficiencies to insufficient dietary intake, the overuse of magnesium-draining coffee and caffeinated beverages, and magnesium loss through normal aging – a “triple whammy” where magnesium levels are concerned.
Environmental toxins, fluoride in drinking water, and crops grown in magnesium-depleted soil also contribute to the grim picture.
Magnesium can protect the brain and help us age gracefully
After we reach age 25, the brain begins to shrink. The loss in brain volume becomes more pronounced as we age, resulting in structural and functional changes – along with cognitive and memory problems.
Our brains depend on synaptic plasticity – or flexibility – to retrieve memories, but this function becomes compromised when synaptic connections in the memory portion of the hippocampus decline with age. In the most dramatic and poignant example of this process, Alzheimer’s disease patients lose so many connections that their memories fade, and eventually disappear completely. Even milder forms of cognitive impairment can affect memory, language, perception, judgment and the ability to plan and perform tasks.
Magnesium, an essential mineral vital to proper brain function, may be the key to treating age-related cognitive impairment. In fact, many integrative healthcare providers insist that magnesium can rebuild broken synapses, restore worn-out neuronal connections and help reverse memory loss.
Magnesium boosts brain power: What does the research show?
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and helmed by Dr. Guosong Liu, one of the world’s foremost researchers in the area of cognitive health, a patented magnesium threonate formulation significantly enhanced human cognitive function while decreasing impairment.
For the study, 44 adults between age 50 and 70 with self-reported memory loss and sleep disorder were divided into two groups, with one group given 25 mg. of magnesium threonate per day and one given only placebo.
The magnesium group experienced significant improvements in cognitive function, and Dr. Lui reported that magnesium increases brain synapse density, while helping to improve and restore cognitive abilities.
Encouraging results echoed in animal studies
In a study published in PLoS One in 2014, injections of magnesium sulfate significantly improved synaptic efficacy and prevented memory and learning impairments in rats with a form of laboratory-induced Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers suggested that magnesium treatment in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could decrease the risk of cognitive impairment.
Interestingly, high levels of aluminum in brain neurons are linked with Alzheimer’s disease. Magnesium has been shown to help remove heavy metals from the body – reinforcing the case for magnesium supplementation in older adults.
What’s the best way to take advantage of magnesium’s cognitive benefits?
You can increase your dietary intake of this vital mineral by eating organic foods such as green leafy vegetables, nutritious whole grains, delicious cocoa and dark chocolate. Other appetizing options are tasty pumpkin seeds, squash, sesame and sunflower seeds, and snack-friendly tree nuts such as cashews and almonds.
As beneficial as it is to increase dietary intake of magnesium, you may decide supplementation is in order – especially if you are an older adult. Naturally, as we always suggest, you should always consult a trusted, medical professional about your health concerns to figure out what’s best for you.
One final thought: Even the CDC warns that a full 20 percent of people aged 55 and older can expect to experience some form of cognitive impairment – while one out of five people in the U.S. population will be older than 65 by the year 2030.
With these statistics in mind, it seems like an excellent idea to do everything you can to protect the brain with the natural healing power of magnesium.
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