The Most Powerful Tool At Our Disposal.
The brain is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. It's the engine that drives our thoughts, feelings, and actions. It's responsible for our creativity, problem-solving abilities, and everything else that makes us human. So, it's no wonder that we're always on the lookout for ways to keep our brains healthy and functioning at their best.
Why Does The Brain Need Magnesium?
By regulating neurotransmitter activity, reducing inflammation, and improving blood flow to the brain, magnesium helps promote healthy brain function and overall cognitive health. Let’s explore…
Magnesium may improve cell communication
Think of your brain as a car engine, and neurotransmitters as the spark plugs. Just as spark plugs ignite fuel to power an engine, neurotransmitters help electrical signals travel between brain cells.
In simpler terms, neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that transmit signals between neurons, allowing us to think, move, and feel. When neurons communicate with each other, they release neurotransmitters into the tiny gap (synapse) between them - and then bind to receptors on the neighboring neuron. There are many types of neurotransmitters in the brain, each with its own specific functions and effects on our behavior and emotions. Some examples include dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
When magnesium levels are low, it can lead to an imbalance in your neurotransmitters, resulting in feelings of anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and even depression.
Magnesium acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in the production and release of neurotransmitters. Without it, they wouldn't be able to do their job, and neurotransmitter production would be compromised. But it doesn’t stop there. Magnesium also regulates the activity of NMDA receptors, which goes a step further to help ensure that neurotransmitters are released in a controlled and balanced manner. When they’re not, you’ll certainly feel the difference. Low levels of the “feel-good” hormones like serotonin can cause depression and anxiety, and an uptick in dopamine may lead to addiction. Magnesium has been shown to increase GABA activity in the brain, which may have a calming effect on erratic neuron activity.
Support learning & memory recall
Brain fog often follows close behind a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps to strengthen the connections between neurons in your brain, which are necessary for learning and memory. When levels fall too low, these connections can weaken, making it harder to learn and remember new things as you age. On the other hand, when your magnesium stores are full, it's like giving your brain a tune-up. Your neurons can communicate more efficiently, and you may find that you're able to concentrate better, retain information more easily, and feel more alert and focused.
But that's not all - magnesium also plays a key role in a function called synaptic plasticity. This is the brain's ability to adapt and change over time. When a magnesium deficiency arises, this process can slow down - making it harder for your brain to learn, form new memories, and even recover from injury.
Regulate the delicate balance of calcium
Think of magnesium as a traffic cop directing calcium to where it needs to go in your body. Calcium is an essential mineral that plays a key role in brain function, but as we know, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Magnesium acts as a sort of gatekeeper to help regulate the flow of calcium, making sure that levels stay in the sweet spot for optimal brain performance.
Calcium ions are also essential for neurotransmitter release. But without enough magnesium to balance it out, calcium can build up in places where it doesn't belong, like your arteries and joints. This build-up can play a large role in conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Drive cellular energy production
Magnesium has been shown to support brain health through its role in ATP production. But first, what exactly is ATP, and why is it important for your brain? ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is a molecule that serves as the primary source of energy for all of your body's cells, including your brain cells. When there’s a shortage, your brain simply can't function properly.
And here's where magnesium comes in. Magnesium is a cofactor for several enzymes involved in the production of ATP. This means that if a magnesium deficiency sets in, your brain cells may not have the fuel they need to perform their functions.
Promote deep, restorative sleep (and mental clarity)
If you're someone who struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, magnesium might just be the hidden key you've been looking for. That's because this mineral plays a critical role in regulating the body's sleep-wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm.
When a deficiency arises, it can become harder for your brain to produce and maintain melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep.
But magnesium doesn't just affect your sleep quality - it also has a powerful impact on your mental clarity. When you're well-rested, you're able to think more clearly, focus more effectively, and make better decisions. And the best part? Magnesium helps to promote the kind of deep, restorative sleep that allows your brain to fully recharge.
Better blood flow to your brain
Imagine your blood vessels are like a garden hose. If the hose is stiff and rigid, water can't flow through. The same is true for our blood vessels. When they're stiff and constricted, blood can't travel through as fast or efficient. This can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain, which can affect our cognitive function.
Magnesium helps to relax the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through more easily. The increased blood flow provides your brain with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its best. Magnesium may also improve blood flow by playing a role in “cooling down” inflammation. Inflammation can cause damage to the blood vessels, which further restricts blood flow.
The Link Between Magnesium and Neurological Conditions
There’s a growing body of evidence linking low magnesium levels to a variety of neurological diseases.
By neurological conditions, we mean disorders that can affect the nervous system, including migraines, epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others. Magnesium deficiency is associated with an increase in excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate, which can ultimately damage the blood cells and lead to learning and memory problems. High levels of excitatory neurotransmitters are believed to cause a variety of cognitive disorders.
Another critical function of magnesium is that it's required for the proper functioning of the blood-brain barrier. This intelligent system helps protect the brain from harmful substances that might leak into the bloodstream. A breakdown of the blood-brain barrier has been linked to various conditions, including cerebral edema and certain types of stroke.
The missing piece to your migraine puzzle?
If you're someone who experiences frequent migraines, you know how debilitating they can be. The throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea can leave you unable to perform the simplest tasks. While many different factors can contribute to headaches and migraines, one that’s often overlooked is magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium affects the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate pain and mood. When these neurotransmitters are thrown out of whack, it can result in an increased sensitivity to pain, subsequently increasing your risk of developing migraines.
Research has shown that migraine sufferers tend to have lower magnesium levels. Magnesium supplementation may help reduce migraine frequency and severity in some people. So, if you're prone to getting them, it's worth considering whether you might be deficient.
There’s still more research needed to confirm the exact link between magnesium deficiency and neurological conditions, but it’s clear that magnesium is essential for healthy brain function.
Brain smart supplement
How do you know if you may benefit from supplementation?
Here are some common neurological symptoms that may indicate a magnesium deficiency:
- Muscle cramps and tremors
- Insomnia and anxiety
- Migraines and headaches
- Numbness and tingling
- Memory and cognitive problems
- Confusion and/or difficulty concentrating
Magnesium is an invaluable mineral that plays an important role in muscle and nerve function, regulating blood sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Despite its importance, though, a lot of us just aren't getting enough of it. Some estimates suggest that more than 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. So, why is that?
Well, there are a few reasons.
For one, our modern diets just aren't cutting it. Processed foods, refined sugar, and alcohol can all deplete our magnesium levels. Plus, even if you're eating a healthy, balanced diet, you still may not be meeting your needs because the soil our food is grown in is often depleted of essential vitamins and minerals.
Good news: It's relatively easy to boost your magnesium levels.
You can increase your intake through eating more magnesium-rich foods, such as leafy greens, avocado, nuts, and seeds, or by taking a supplement. For best results, choose magnesium supplements that contain high-quality, bioavailable forms of magnesium, such as liquid magnesium chloride. Liquid formulas are absorbed more quickly than common pills or powders so you can reap the benefits even faster.
It's worth noting that some people may be at a higher risk for magnesium deficiency than others.
- Those with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease or celiac disease, which can interfere with nutrient absorption.
- Those who regularly consume alcohol, which prevents magnesium absorption and increases urine excretion of both water and key electrolytes.
- Older adults, who may have decreased magnesium absorption due to age-related changes in the digestive system.
- Athletes and physically active individuals, who may lose magnesium through sweat.
*Just be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements, especially if you have any health conditions or are taking medication.*
Get your brain in shape
Don't let a magnesium deficiency throw a wrench in your system. Among other critical functions, magnesium can help regulate neurotransmitters, improve learning and memory, and enhance mental clarity. By paying close attention to your levels, you can optimize your brain health long-term.