Magnesium threonate is the brain vitamin of the day, it seems. Brain supplement forums and blogs are suddenly all talking about how this entirely new compound of magnesium may be able to boost your cognitive ability. Well, that sounds good, but let’s see what we know so far…
What exactly is magnesium threonate?
Threonate is a metabolite, one that has been so far useful in assisting the body’s absorption of vitamin C. A metabolite is something that is produce by your metabolism. In other words, your body produces threonate, and that threonate helps you to absorb vitamin C.
Not just that, though. Researchers have also found that threonate can assist magnesium in crossing the blood-brain barrier. This new supplement called magnesium threonate (Magnesium L-threonate) is a magnesium salt of L-threonic acid that has the formula Mg(C4H7O5)2. The supplement was made by the following process at a university in Xian, China, if you need more details of the manufacturing method.
A study at Tsing Hua University in Beijing fed magnesium threonate to rats to observe the effects of their cognitive abilities. The results showed that the rats were in fact able to think better after taking these supplements. It should be noted that the rats were not in any way magnesium deficient before the tests.
What can magnesium threonate do for you?
It has long been understood that magnesium is essential to the function of many organs, and that people in developed nations tend to suffer from magnesium deficiencies. The problem, though, was that oral magnesium supplements had little access to the brain, and so little effect on cognition could be expected. By creating magnesium threonate, the researchers hoped to deliver magnesium more directly to the brain. The results (published in a January 2010 issue of Neuron) were impressive, at least for rats:
“We found that increased brain magnesium enhanced many different forms of learning and memory in both young and aged rats,” says Dr. Liu. A close examination of cellular changes associated with memory revealed an increase in the number of functional synapses, activation of key signaling molecules and an enhancement of short- and long-term synaptic processes that are crucial for learning and memory.
According to the research, magnesium threonate “leads to the enhancement of learning abilities, working memory, and short- and long-term memory in rats.”
This is significant. In addition to the increase in number of synapses, short-term memory improved by 18% and long-term memory improved by 100%.
The bad news is, you are not a rat. So we can’t say with any certainty what effect it will have on your brain, and we are blissfully unaware of any possible side-effects.
Should I start taking magnesium threonate?
That’s the million dollar question. It looks very promising, but nothing is guaranteed. The possible risks and rewards are all yours. It seems likely that the risk is small, so if you are willing to try the stuff out and see if you fire up your brain power, give it a whirl. In my case, I need all the help I can get! If magnesium threonate has anywhere near the effect on humans that it showed on rats (in just one test, remember), than I could be a whole different person. What do you think?