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Both High and Low Magnesium Levels Linked to Higher Risk of Dementia

Magnesium helps build bones, enables nerves to function, and is essential to the production of energy from food. A recent study suggests that people with both high and low blood levels of magnesium may be at a higher risk of developing dementia.


Participants in the study included 9,569 people with an average age of 65 and no dementia at the beginning of the study. Over the course of the average eight-year followup, 823 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia, 662 of whom had Alzheimer’s disease.


The researchers divided the participants into five groups, based on their blood magnesium levels. 1,748 of the participants had high magnesium levels and 1,771 had low levels.


After examining the data, the researchers found that the groups with the highest (greater than 2.19mg/dl) and the lowest levels (less than 1.92mg/dl) of serum magnesium levels had a higher risk of dementia, when compared with the middle groups. Specifically, they were 30% more likely to develop dementia than the middle group. The results stayed the same after the researchers adjusted for body mass index, smoking status, alcohol use, and kidney function.


The researchers acknowledged that one limitation of the study is the fact that they measured magnesium levels only once. Magnesium levels can change and magnesium levels in the blood do not always represent total magnesium levels in the body.


Researchers from Erasmus MC–University Medical Center in the Netherlands led the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 20, 2017, in Neurology.


Previous studies have linked magnesium to reduced incidences of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Magnesium deficiency, which tends to be especially prevalent in older populations, is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis.


Eating more magnesium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains, nuts and milk is one way to increase your magnesium intake. Taking a supplement is also a good option.

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