The brain’s metabolism never stops. Even during a coma, the metabolism inside the brain only slows down by 50%. As such, the brain is a very resource-hungry organism that requires a great deal of nutrition and, in turn, creates a lot of metabolic waste.
The brain uses magnesium for hundreds of enzymatic reactions and deficiencies have been connected to a change in behavior in both humans and animals. Magnesium is also required to help the brain expel metabolic free radicals.
Studies have shown that approximately half of all Americans don’t consume the RDA of magnesium (Mg), which puts them at risk for many diseases. Magnesium plays an important role in nerve transmission and is essential for healthy brain activity. Boosting magnesium stores can have a positive effect in both mood and memory.
Foods rich in magnesium include: green leafy vegetables, raw cacao, Himalayan salt, seaweed, sprouted nuts, seeds and legumes, avocados, fish and pumpkin seeds.
Eat for Brain Health
Alongside genetic and environmental factors, poor nutrition has been attributed to the onset of many psychiatric disorders, in particular low plasma or serum folate, B12 and magnesium. Boosting magnesium reserves has a calming effect on the mind, reducing anxiety-related behaviour and building stress resistance.
Hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency) is thought to be a physiological indicator for neurological disorders and has been connected to a wide range of mental health issues. Additionally, boosting magnesium consumption has positive effects in supporting healthy inflammatory pathways associated with neurological health.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) Receptors
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors contain magnesium, which has a vital protective effect on the receptors and overall brain health. Overstimulation by excitotoxins or other external stimuli can cause brain cells to die prematurely. NMDA receptor function declines with age and contributes to a loss in memory and learning ability.
Supporting Healthy Inflammatory Pathways
A major correlation exists between inflammation and mental health issues in many patients. Researchers now know that the immune response affects the brain and that inflammation can result in mental health conditions. Magnesium helps regulate excitotoxins and reduce oxidative stress in the brain. Therefore, dietetic intervention that includes magnesium, coupled with omega-3s and curcumin that both support healthy inflammatory pathways, can offer valuable and therapeutic qualities to optimize mental health.
Get Your Zzz’s
Likewise, magnesium has been reported to help with sleep-related disorders that can ultimately lead on to other mental health conditions. Taking magnesium supplementation can prove to be a worthy intervention for elderly patients suffering from sleeplessness. On the flip side, many people who struggle psychologically complain of sleep disturbances. Due to the beneficial effects of magnesium on sleep, topping up magnesium reserves can restore healthy sleep patterns.
Support the Stress Response
Dietetically speaking, magnesium is known as nature’s “chill pill” due to magnesium modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis and helping us get a good night’s sleep. The HPA axis is known as the body’s “stress response system” and magnesium co-regulates of all of the associated enzymatic reactions. People who report that they suffer from adrenal fatigue are referring to the exhaustion of this system.
When the HPA is activated by corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and then synthesised in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN), this releases adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH) into the blood. This can bring about a wide array of hormonal and behaviour changes in the individual due to the elevated stress response. This stress response depletes the magnesium reserves and triggers an inflammatory response, which can then accentuate mental health issues in some individuals. The CRA-HPA system must be balanced for the brain to work optimally. This can be modulated by adequate dietary magnesium intake.
Although many studies point to increasing our dietary intake of magnesium, it’s often hard to diagnose magnesium deficiency due to just 1% being present in the blood. The majority of our magnesium is stored in our bones and organs; therefore it’s hard to measure. So, taking steps to ensure adequate intake is imperative.
Magnesium Grows the Brain
Magnesium strengthens the hippocampus to improve long-term memory. Additionally magnesium is known to give energy and strengthen the synaptic nerve endings in the prefrontal cortex - increasing short-term memories.
Magnesium’s great ability to grow our brains and retain information was proven in an experiment with rats, where the group that were given magnesium supplementation saw a 100-122% improvement in memory. In addition, boosting magnesium levels may boost cognitive abilities in people with brain synapse function loss and beta-amyloid plaque accumulation.
Being deficient in magnesium can result in abnormal stress responses, which in turn can result in inflammation. This can cause a wide array of health issues ranging from headaches to brain fog. Boosting natural magnesium reserves, especially when are under a lot of physical or mental stress, will help to protect the nervous system and increase cognitive abilities.
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