The magnesium ion is extremely important to your body because it acts as a moderator for many processes including DNA synthesis, energy production, and ion transport across cell membranes. It’s one of many essential nutrients that your body needs to survive, but that it can’t produce on its own; because of this, we should all make sure to get our recommended intakes of 420 mg/day and 320 mg/day for men and women respectively. Out of all the ways that magnesium functions in your body, its possible effects on memory and focus can be the most disruptive. Here are some of studies showing the potential impact of magnesium on your brain health.
Magnesium may have a role in increasing attentiveness and decreasing impulsivity*
“The study shows an association between higher dietary magnesium intake and reduced externalizing behavior problems in adolescents.”
In a recent study done by researchers at the University of Western Australia(1), low magnesium levels in children were linked with higher occurrences of externalizing behaviors such as attention problems, rule-breaking, and aggression. This study included close to 700 Australian teenagers who were between 13-17 years old. The teens’ magnesium intakes were estimated based on surveys of their diets and then the teens’ mental health was examined using the Australian Youth Self Report Survey, which asked questions regarding social behavior and conduct in school. Teens with lower estimated magnesium intakes were associated with the highest amount of externalizing behaviors, possibly suggesting a correlation between magnesium and impulsivity.
Magnesium could be important to memory*
Magnesium ions are very abundant in the brain and have been shown to influence neurotransmitter release, so it seems likely that magnesium could have an effect on memory formation. Scientists at Northern Kentucky University tested this hypothesis by placing rats on either a magnesium rich or magnesium poor diet and then testing response rate both vocally by squeaking and physically by movement to certain stimuli. The slower a rat responds to that stimulus, the less likely that a strong memory about it has been formed. Not surprisingly, the rats with low magnesium diets responded the least vocally and physically compared to rats with adequate magnesium. (2)
In another study done on rats by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (3), magnesium was again shown to have an association with improved learning and memory. In this study, rats were split into groups that were either treated with a magnesium compound or not. Then, rats had to pick the right cues for a reward. Rats treated with magnesium had significantly higher scores recognizing the right cues in both short term and long term memory than rats without magnesium treatment.
Magnesium might have a role in regulating symptoms of ADHD*
Doctors from the Pomeranian Medical Academy of Poland (4) examined the effects of magnesium on the symptoms of ADHD by analyzing the behaviors of 50 children with ADHD given magnesium supplements. The symptoms of these children were assessed with both the Conners Rating Scale (survey done by parents and teachers on social behaviors) and the Wender’s Scale of Behavior (test designed to quantify attention and distractibility). Based on scores from the tests, the researchers concluded that 6 months of magnesium supplementation led to “a significant decrease of hyperactivity of those examined.”
Tips for Magnesium intake
The National Institutes of Health (5) recommends about 420 mg/day and 320 mg/day of magnesium for healthy adult men and women respectively (4). To reach these suggestions, the best foods to eat are cereal grains, leafy greens, and nuts. Of course, magnesium supplements and nutritional blends such as MicroNourish can also be great ways to get your daily dose!
Other articles you may enjoy include:
- Magnesium & The Gut-Brain Connection
- 3 Ways Vitamin D Helps Your Brain
- Can Zinc Improve Focus & Brain Health?
(1) Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Jul;18(10):1824-30. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002432. Epub 2014 Nov 6.
(2) Magnesium deficiency impairs fear conditioning in mice. Brain Res. 2005 Mar 15;1038(1):100-6.
(3) Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.12.026.
(4) The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. Magnes Res. 1997 Jun;10(2):149-56.
(5) “Magnesium.” Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health, 4 Nov. 2013. Web.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.