Clinical trials proving the efficacy of Magnesium L-Threonate
What is Neuroplasticity
The brain’s ability to change is neuroplasticity. This flexibility allows our brains to forge new neural connections (synapses) and affects learning, memory, behaviour, and general cognitive function. Neuroplasticity plays a fundamental role in how well our brains age, with a loss of plasticity resulting in a loss of cognitive function. Research on neuroplasticity is growing and scientists are discovering that increasing neuronal cell magnesium levels can increase synapse density and plasticity, improving overall cognitive function. It is also showing promise to help “rewire” the brain in cases of traumatic brain injury and anxiety disorders. But not just any magnesium supplement will do—magnesium L-threonate is the form used in studies because it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to effectively increase magnesium levels in the brain.
Published Human Data
Scientists at three independent institutions carried out a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of Magnesium L-Threonate (MgT) in older adults with cognitive impairment.
To participate in the study, candidates had to be between the ages of 50 and 70, and have self-reported complaints of memory problems, sleep disorders, and anxiety.
This study was based on the premise that sleep and anxiety disorders correlate with perceived memory loss.
Those who report mild cognitive impairment and who also have sleep and anxiety disorders are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
In this multi-centre study, participants were randomly assigned to receive placebo or MgT in the dose of 1,500-2,000 mg each day (depending on body weight) for 12 weeks.
Baseline cognitive testing commenced before people started taking MgT or placebo. These cognitive tests were then repeated at six-week and 12-week points.
The following four separate tests were used to evaluate cognitive function:
• Executive function
• Working memory
• Episodic memory (ability to recall fleeting events)
Findings from this study revealed:
1. MgT improved body magnesium status. After 12 weeks researchers found significant increases in red blood-cell concentration and in urinary excretion of magnesium in the treated group. Increased urinary excretion indicates that large amounts of magnesium have been absorbed, while increased levels in red blood cells show high circulating levels of magnesium in the body.
2. MgT improved cognitive abilities. Using a test of visual attention and task switching, researchers saw significant increases in performance speed for executive function and cognitive processing. These benefits appeared as early as week six on some of the tests. Most tellingly, the overall composite scores for all tests of the MgT-supplemented group increased significantly compared with baseline scores and with those of placebo recipients at weeks six and twelve.
3. MgT reduced fluctuation in cognitive ability. When cognitive functions are worse on some days than others, it is a warning sign of developing mild cognitive impairment. In the present study, while placebo recipients showed considerable fluctuation in their cognitive scores, those in the MgT group had primarily positive changes.
4. MgT reversed clinical measures of brain aging.
Understanding Your Brain Age
Brains do not functionally age at the same rate as whole-body chronological age. For example, a 60-year-old person can have a brain age of 70, meaning they are functioning at an “older” level.
This variance of brain aging is based on measurable performance and physiological parameters.
In the MgT study the average chronological age of all subjects in the study was 57.8 years. Their average baseline “functional” brain age, however, was estimated to be 68.3 years.
In other words, the study subjects were about 10 years older in terms of their cognitive function.
What the researchers found next was remarkable.
The average functional brain age of subjects receiving Magnesium L-Threonate supplements decreased from an older 69.6 years at the start of the study, to 60.6 after just six weeks of treatment.
That’s a nine-year reduction in brain age in a matter of weeks. This improvement continued until week 12 with total reduction in brain age of 9.4 years.
By the end of the study, cognitive abilities were brought almost back to normal for their younger chronological age in subjects who took MgT.
In other words, MgT treatment was found to reverse these measured aspects of brain aging until it was nearly identical to their cognitively healthy peers.
Overall, the results of this clinical trial are potentially game-changing for the aging population. The study found that MgT significantly improved cognitive performance on several standardized tests, while reducing the fluctuations in performance that are a warning of developing cognitive impairment in the future.
It also showed a reversal of the brain age of MgT-supplemented subjects by nearly a decade.
How MgT Regenerates Aging Brains
The study detailed above shows that MgT improved cognitive function in aging adults, and helped “rejuvenate” their brains towards normal function for their age.
The key takeaway of this study is that achieving higher brain levels of magnesium results in a younger brain.
Previous studies give us insight into how. They demonstrate that increasing magnesium concentrations in cultured brain cells from the hippocampus (the area of the brain where memories are stored and retrieved) increases both synaptic density and brain plasticity.
Here’s why this is important:
• Synaptic density is a measure of the structural integrity of brain synapses. The greater the synaptic density, the more efficient the cognitive processing.
• Plasticity is a measure of how readily synaptic connections can change with new stimuli. It is the equivalent of learning at the cellular level.
Getting more magnesium into brain cells is not as simple as adding it to the diet. That’s because of the complex regulatory functions of the blood-brain barrier.
As a result, consuming a typical magnesium compound rather than Magnesium L-Threonate (MgT) doesn’t affect brain functions like cognition and memory because much of it does not reach the brain. In fact, studies show that raising human blood magnesium levels 300% changes magnesium in cerebrospinal fluid by less than 19%.
Research shows that MgT increases synaptic density in precisely the brain regions most crucial to executive function and memory. These are the two most critical processes in something as simple as recognizing that a red light means “stop.”
Studies of Alzheimer’s disease have also shown that MgT enhances synaptic plasticity and is capable of reversing cognitive impairment.2,4
Researchers at MIT discovered a special form of magnesium, called magnesium L-threonate that plays a key role in the way neurons connect and communicate with each other.
In a rat study, this special form of magnesium has been found to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which led to improved learning abilities, working memory, and enhanced long- and short-term memory.
Another study showed that when mice were given magnesium L-threonate in a solution prior to completing a maze test, they performed better than rats that did not receive the solution—a demonstration of improvement in short-term memory and other cognitive functions.
And in a recent human study, supplementation with 1,500–2,000 mg each day of magnesium L-threonate (depending on body weight) for 12 weeks showed:
Improved body magnesium status. After 12 weeks, researchers found significant increases in red blood cell concentration and in urinary excretion of magnesium in the treated group. Increased urinary excretion indicates that large amounts of magnesium have been absorbed, while increased levels in red blood cells show high levels of magnesium in the body.
Improved cognitive abilities. Using a test of visual attention and task switching, researchers saw significant increases in performance speed for executive function and cognitive processing. These benefits appeared as early as week six on some of the tests. Most tellingly, the overall composite scores for all tests of the magnesium L-threonate-supplemented group increased significantly compared with baseline scores and with those of placebo recipients at weeks 6 and 12.
Reduced fluctuation in cognitive ability. Everyone experiences some days during which they aren't as alert or sharp as they'd like to be. Magnesium L-threonate has shown an ability to stabilize cognitive performance. In the present study, while placebo recipients showed considerable fluctuation in their cognitive scores, those in the magnesium L-threonate group had primarily positive changes.
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Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.
Boanca M, Popa EG, Lupusoru RV, et al. The effects of magnesium nanovesicle formulations on spatial memory performance in mice. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2014 Jul-Sep;118(3):847-53.
Liu G, Weinger JG, Lu ZL, et al. Efficacy and Safety of MMFS-01, a Synapse Density Enhancer, for Treating Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(4):971-90.
Apostolova LG, Di LJ, Duffy EL, et al. Risk factors for behavioral abnormalities in mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer's disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2014;37(5-6):315-26.