Is it possible to prevent or mitigate Alzheimer’s disease through supplementation? Researchers are looking at magnesium’s role in protecting the aging brain from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. A new, highly absorbent foam type of magnesium-L-threonate (MgT) concentrates in the brain and restores the types of brain deterioration found in Alzheimer’s disease and other types of memory loss. Experimental models predict improvement in both short-term memory and long-term memory.
Magnesium is an important nutrient for proper brain functioning. Recent research has showed that magnesium specifically promotes memory and learning due to its beneficial effect on synaptic plasticity and density. Calcium and magnesium work together.
Magnesium deficiency is widespread throughout the world, even in industrialized countries. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include apathy, psychosis, memory impairment, and more. In its initial stages, magnesium deficiency may produce no obvious symptoms. The body has difficulty maintaining high enough levels of magnesium in the brain.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently formulated magnesium-L-threonate — MgT — that can be taken orally. MgT maximizes magnesium “loading” into the brain. Their past research found that increased magnesium levels in the brain promote synaptic density and plasticity in the hippocampus. MgT is the first widely available type of magnesium that can be absorbed rapidly and transfer efficiently into the central nervous system.
The results of their research showed that MgT taken by mouth increased magnesium levels in spinal fluid, and increased brain magnesium by about 15%. Other types of magnesium that they tested did not result in significant elevations of the mineral. Even though 15% may seem like a small effect, the effect on neurological functioning was profound.
They tested older animals using the Novel Object Recognition Test (NORT), which measures how well an animal can identify and recognize new objects. Compared to animals given magnesium citrate, the MgT animals had a 15% higher score for short-term memory, and a 54% higher score for long-term memory.
The researchers wondered, “Do those changes lead to an increase in the number of neurotransmitter release sites, and, subsequently, to enhanced signal transmission?” They used microscopic measuring devices and found this was true. They also found that increased density of synaptic connections directly correlated with the improvements in memory due to MgT supplementation. When the MgT was stopped, the density of synaptic connections went down again.
This Alzheimer’s research shows that nutrition and supplementation can have a significant impact on brain-damaging diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and that the form of a supplement is important. Additionally, even though MgT increased magnesium in the brain by only 15%, it has a significant effect on neurological functioning. Clinical trials are needed to determine MgT’s value for preventing and mitigating Alzheimer’s disease and effective dosage for humans.
Study: Enhancement of Learning and Memory by Elevating Brain Magnesium by Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, et al. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.