Promote Brain Health with Magnesium

Posted June 2023
Smashed white bean, roast cherry tomato, pepita, oregano on Corn Thins slices

Magnesium is a mineral which is a bit of an overachiever in the number of roles it plays in your body. Magnesium is an essential major mineral your body needs to function and can boast to help play a role in over 325 different body functions. Some of the role’s magnesium plays includes supporting normal muscle contractions, supporting normal blood pressure, assisting with optimal sleep quality, promoting strong bones, and helping you to relax and reduce feelings of stress.

With one in three Australians over the age of two currently not meeting the estimated average requirement for magnesium, magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common. More men are falling short of meeting their estimated average requirements at 37% compared to 34% of women not meeting their daily needs.

One of these functions is supporting your brain function. It has been found that a higher level of magnesium in the brain is linked to lower amounts of oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. A higher level of magnesium in the brain is also linked to increased synaptic plasticity or an increased in the strength of connections between the brain cells that send and receive messages. Also, a higher level of magnesium in the brain may help to reverse the mechanisms which cause brain degeneration.

A recent study has linked the role of magnesium and brain health. This study was the first of its kind to use neuroimaging and structural brain measures in humans to investigate the effects of magnesium on the brain. The researchers used participants aged 40-73 years and both men and women were included.

This study found that the people who consumed the most dietary magnesium at a level of 550mg/day or above compared to the average magnesium intake of approximately 350 mg/day were predicted to have approximately 0.2% larger grey matter volume and approximately 0.46% larger right hippocampal volume.

With an average age in this population of 55 years these amounts in brain mass corresponded to around 1 year of aging in the brain difference. This may help reduce the onset or delay the progression of dementia. This prediction is supported in other research which has linked a higher magnesium intake of 196mg/day was linked to a 37% decreased risk of developing dementia.

Good sources of magnesium from whole foods includes nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains like oats, brown rice and whole grain containing foods like Corn Thins slices, edamame, soy milk, bananas, poultry, seafood, lean meat, leafy greens, and potato. By eating a diet which is balanced and includes enough and variety of each food group for your health, your magnesium needs can easily be achieved.


Take home message: If you are one of the many people currently not meeting your daily magnesium needs, try adding some of the foods listed above. Your body and its function will thank you in many ways by meeting your daily needs of magnesium.




  1. Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12 financial year. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 202
  2. Alateeq K, Walsh EI, Cherbuin N. Dietary magnesium intake is related to larger brain volumes and lower white matter lesions with notable sex differences. Eur J Nutr. 2023 Mar 10. doi: 10.1007/s00394-023-03123-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36899275.
  3. Shang X, Hill E, Zhu Z et al (2021) The association of age at diagnosis of hypertension with brain structure and incident dementia in the UK biobank. Hypertension 78:1463–1474.
  4. Li W, Yu J, Liu Y et al (2014) Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Mol Brain 7:65.
Ashleigh Felth…
Accredited Practising Dietitian
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    • Ashleigh Felth…