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Magnesium and Brain Health

Magnesium and Neuron Activity

Recent research on magnesium suggests that there might be additional roles for magnesium in the brain that are not necessarily associated with energy production. In 2017, an online publication called Nurturing the Brain published a report about the functions of magnesium in the brain. According to this review, magnesium is a regulator of neurotransmitter signaling in the brain, and is key to the main neurotransmitters - glutamate and GABA. Also, through its regulation of the activity of calcium channels, magnesium contributes to the maintenance of adequate calcium in brain cells. Through these roles, magnesium is important to neuronal processes.

Magnesium's involvement in the mechanics of synaptic transmissions and neuronal plasticity, result in its impact on learning and memory. Increased levels of magnesium in the brain have been shown to promote multiple mechanisms of synaptic plasticity that can enhance different forms of learning and memory. Synaptic plasticity is a process that strengthens synaptic transmission. Strengthening synaptic plasticity can help delay age-related cognitive decline.

It has been seen that increasing brain magnesium levels may lead to the increased and rapid production of neural stem cells. This would indicate that brain magnesium may promote neurogenesis (the generation of new neurons) in adulthood. Neurogenesis is a key process in the brain's overall adaptability, mood regulation, and cognitive flexibility. Cognitive flexibility is the mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously. Improved cognitive flexibility allows one to learn more quickly, solve problems more creatively, and adapt and respond to new situations more effectively. It is also helpful in enhancing the beneficial effects of exercise in the brain. Magnesium helps in the control of oxidative stress, inflammatory processes and helps maintain proper brain blood flow.

To support adequate brain health a magnesium supplement needs to be highly bioavailable to deliver sufficient magnesium through the bloodstream. It also needs to be well tolerated. One such magnesium source is magnesium bisglycinate chelate. A study on patients with ileal resections found that magnesium bisglycinate was well tolerated compared to magnesium oxide.