Dementia and magnesium levels

Magnesium deficiency is found in up to 50% of migraine sufferers, 40% of those with cluster headaches, 45% of the elderly diabetics, and in a high percentages of people with other chronic diseases. Magnesium has been shown to relieve migraine and cluster headaches, post-concussion syndrome, lower blood pressure, prevent irregular heart beats, and improve breathing in asthmatics.

A new study by Dutch researchers published in the leading neurology journal, Neurology reports on an association between magnesium and dementia (Alzheimer’s and other types). Brenda Kieboom and her colleagues measured magnesium levels in almost 10,000 people without any evidence of dementia and followed them for an average of 8 years. The average age at the start of the study was 65. Only 2 subjects had magnesium level above normal and 108 below normal.

The surprising discovery, which was suggested by previous contradictory studies, is that people with both low normal and high normal levels (lowest and highest quintile of the normal range) were at an increased risk of developing dementia.

There are two hypotheses as to why low magnesium levels could predispose to dementia. One is that magnesium blocks NMDA receptor, which is involved in the development of dementia, traumatic brain injury, pain, migraines, and other conditions. The second theory is that magnesium deficiency promotes inflammation, which is found in brains of patients with dementia (and migraines). The authors did not offer any theories as to why high normal magnesium levels were also associated with the development of dementia.

The researchers admit several weaknesses of their study, including poor correlation between serum magnesium levels and the total magnesium in the body and the reliance on a single measurement of magnesium level. The study does have many strengths, including large number of subjects, correction for a variety of confounding factors (education, weight, smoking, alcohol, cholesterol, kidney function, stroke, and other). The fact that this correlation was found as early as 4 years after the initial assessment also suggests a real correlation.

Although, correlation does not mean causation, it is prudent to keep your magnesium level in the middle of normal range. We rarely see high or high normal magnesium levels in our migraine patients and in this study only 2 out of almost 10,000 people had higher than normal levels and 108 had lower than normal levels. Ideally, everyone who suffers from any medical condition or has a family history of dementia, should have their magnesium level checked. The more accurate test is not the serum level, but the RBC magnesium level.

  1. Dr. Mauskop says: 01/17/20186:20 pm

    Magnesium glycinate, 400 mg a day.

  2. Melissa Gordon says: 01/16/201812:55 am

    What kind of magnesium is best to take as a supplement? Are there any guidelines?

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