New magnesium supplement staves off memory loss

February 23rd, 2010 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) Magnesium, a key nutrient for a good memory, may be even more critical than previously thought for the development of neurons (nerve cell) of children and healthy brain cells in adults, says a new study.
Begun at MIT, the research by Inna Slutsky of Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) Sackler School of Medicine evolved to become a multi-centre experiment focussed on a new magnesium supplement, magnesium-L-theronate (MgT) that effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier to inhibit calcium flux in brain neurons.

The new study found that the synthetic magnesium compound works on both young and ageing animals to enhance memory or prevent its impairment.

The research was carried out over a five-year period and has significant implications for the use of over-the-counter magnesium supplements.

In the study, two groups of rats ate normal diets containing a healthy amount of magnesium from natural sources. The first group was given a supplement of MgT, while the control group had only its regular diet.

Behavioural tests showed that cognitive functioning improved in the rats in the first group and also demonstrated an increase of synapses in the brain - connective nerve endings that carry memories in the form of electrical impulses from one part of the brain to the other.

“We are really pleased with the positive results of our studies,” says Slutsky. “But on the negative side, we’ve also been able to show that today’s over-the-counter magnesium supplements don’t really work. They do not get into the brain.”

“We’ve developed a promising new compound which has now taken the first important step towards clinical trials by Guosong Liu, director of the Centre for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University and co-founder of Magceutics company,” she says.

While the effects were not immediate, the researchers in the study, from TAU, MIT, University of Toronto, and Tsighua University in Beijing, were able to assess that the new compound shows improved permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

After two weeks of oral administration of the compound in mice, magnesium levels in the cerebral-spinal fluid increased, says a TAU release.

These findings were published in Neuron.

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