Aluminum has long been feared in pots and pans and antiperspirant as a potential cause of Alzheimer’s disease after a study found high levels of the metal in brains of patients with the disease. Though the myth of aluminum-caused Alzheimer’s has not been proven, magnesium may join its status as a malevolent metal.
A new study published in the journal Neurology has found that magnesium levels, whether they’re too high or too low, may contribute to an increased risk of dementia.
Researchers looked at over 9,500 people with an average age of 65 who did not have symptoms of dementia. They tested their magnesium levels and followed them for eight years, during which 823 were diagnosed with dementia—662 of which were Alzheimer’s cases.
When participants were divided into five different groups based on their magnesium levels, the highest and lowest levels were associated with a higher risk of dementia—about 30 percent—than the groups in the middle.
Because there aren’t any drug treatments for dementia, those with a family history tend to look for any kind of prevention tactic available. Some eat almonds by the handful based on research that vitamin E might reduce Alzheimer’s risk; others up their intake of omega-3 fatty acids and try their hand at learning new instruments and languages.
“Since the current treatment and prevention options for dementia are limited, we urgently need to identify new risk factors for dementia that could potentially be adjusted. If people could reduce their risk for dementia through diet or supplements, that could be very beneficial,” said Brenda C.T. Kieboom, MD, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Researchers hope to confirm these findings with more studies, and if the link is proven, develop a simple blood test to identify those who are at risk of dementia.
Read the full write-up here.