Studies suggest increasing magnesium or improving bone density may lower risk for dementia
23 Mar 2023 --- Researchers suggest that people who consume more than 550 mg of magnesium daily have a brain age approximately one year younger by the time they reach 55 compared to someone with an average magnesium intake of 350 mg daily. Additionally, the study, which included over 6,000 participants, found that people with an increased intake of magnesium-rich foods could reduce their risk of dementia.
At the same time, an 11-year-long study suggests people with high bone density may have a lower risk of developing dementia.
“Our study shows a 41% increase in magnesium intake could lead to less age-related brain shrinkage, which is associated with better cognitive function and lower risk or delayed onset of dementia later in life,” says lead author and researcher Khawlah Alateeq, from the Australian National University (ANU).
Magnesium is commonly used in food supplements to support bone health. For example, Gadot Biochemical Industry has launched a supplement with calcium citrate and magnesium citrate that is scientifically shown to provide long-term bone support and KaraMD sells a vitamin D and magnesium supplement to support bone strength.
In another dementia-related study, participants with the lowest total body bone density were 42% more likely to develop dementia within ten years compared to people with higher bone density.
“Low bone density and dementia are two conditions that commonly affect older people simultaneously, especially as bone loss often increases due to physical inactivity and poor nutrition during dementia,” explains author Mohammad Arfan Ikram of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Growing cases of dementia
The World Health Organization states that over 55 million people have dementia worldwide, with nearly 10 million new cases yearly. The organization notes that there is no cure for dementia but that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline with lifestyle changes.
“Since there is no cure for dementia and the development of pharmacological treatments have been unsuccessful for the past 30 years, it’s been suggested that greater attention should be directed toward prevention,” explains study co-author Dr. Erin Walsh from the ANU.
Ikram suggests that if bone loss occurs in the earliest phases of dementia, years before any clinical symptoms manifest themselves, it “could be an indicator of risk for dementia and people with bone loss could be targeted for screening and improved care.”
However, further studies are needed to identify the predictive ability of bone mineral density for dementia.
An increasing aging population and drive to stay independent and healthy as long as possible to mitigate future healthcare costs on society is driving demand for healthy aging products.
Magnesium to prevent dementia
Published in the European Journal of Nutrition, the magnesium study included over 6,000 cognitively healthy participants in the UK aged 40 to 73 who all completed online questionnaires five times in 16 months.
The researchers calculated daily magnesium intake based on 200 foods, focusing on magnesium-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
“The study shows higher dietary magnesium intake may contribute to neuroprotection earlier in the aging process and preventative effects may begin in our 40s or even earlier,” says Alateeq. “This means people of all ages should pay closer attention to their magnesium intake.”
“We also found the neuroprotective effects of more dietary magnesium appears to benefit women more than men and more so in post-menopausal than pre-menopausal women, although this may be due to the anti-inflammatory effect of magnesium.”
Other studies suggest that following a Mediterranean diet or consuming vitamin D supplements may lower or delay dementia risk.
Bone health as a dementia indicator
The study on bone density, published in Neurology, included 3,651 people in the Netherlands with an average age of 72 and did not have dementia at the start of the study. Researchers used X-rays to identify bone density.
The trial took place over throughout 11 years and 19% developed dementia. The risk of dementia was most significant for groups with the lowest bone mineral density. However, the authors warn the study does not prove low bone density causes dementia.
“Our study found that bone loss indeed already occurs before dementia and thus is linked to a higher risk of dementia. However, further studies are needed to better understand this connection between bone density and memory loss,” Ikram notes.
“Bone and joint health are increasingly becoming a topic of interest for consumers as part of healthy aging, gathering interest from both young adults and older adults,” Silvi Siddhu, global senior marketing and technical sales manager, nutraceuticals at Univar Solutions, previously told NutritionInsight.
By Jolanda van Hal
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