Magnesium Foods and Cardiovascular Health

Dietary Magnesium and Magnesum SupplementsA whole slew of news reports have recently covered two studies of the effects of dietary magnesium on cardiovascular health and strokes. It’s certainly good news, as it shows a clear connection between dietary magnesium intake and the two. The problem with the new reports, though, is that many of them simply say magnesium intake and leave the “dietary” part off. This is a big mistake.

People who read these reports may rush out and buy magnesium supplements to improve their cardiovascular performance. And that’s not a good idea, because there was nothing in the studies to connect magnesium supplements to cardiovascular improvement and reduce risk of stroke. The studies specifically looked at dietary magnesium, which means increased magnesium from eating magnesium rich foods.

Now the good news, if you are one of those who are ready to eat magnesium foods rather than popping pills.

In seven prospective studies, with 6477 cases of stroke and 241,378 participants researchers observed

…a modest but statistically significant inverse association between magnesium intake and risk of stroke. An intake increment of 100 mg Mg/d was associated with an 8% reduction in risk of total stroke (combined RR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.97), without heterogeneity among studies (P = 0.66, I2 = 0%). Magnesium intake was inversely associated with risk of ischemic stroke…

Again, this 100mg per day hasn’t been shown to work if you get it from a supplement. To get the effects noted in this study you need to get that 100mg of magnesium from food. It’s about 100 pumpkin seeds, 33 almonds, or a small serving of fish or spinach.

There are times when magnesium supplements have been shown to be effective, but this is not one of them. Be very careful when you use magnesium to treat a certain health issue, as in some cases the supplements to not have the efficacy of dietary magnesium. Don’t rely one blogs (not even this one) to give you this info. Look for the source of the study cited. Copy and paste it into Google, and read the abstract for yourself. It will take all of a minute or two. Make sure the study specifies either supplements or dietary magnesium. If it doesn’t, then it’s safer to assume that only dietary magnesium will work, as that’s often the case.

This particular abstract (Dietary magnesium intake and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies1,2,3,4, Susanna C Larsson, Nicola Orsini, and Alicja Wolk) can be found at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

be found here.

Magnesium Threonate

Magnesium threonate for brain enhancementMagnesium 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?