Magnesium – Can You Really Have “Too Much Of A Good Thing”?

Tipped over bottle of Magnesium vitamins

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Decreased anxiety, improved heart health, better sleep, and better digestion are all by-effects of magnesium, a mineral essential for health. It is found in a number of foods from almonds to dark chocolate. Experts agree that magnesium is absolutely a part of a healthy diet. So, with all these helpful benefits, is it really possible to have too much magnesium?

Well, one study investigates just that. It suggests that there is sort of a “goldilocks” level of magnesium for optimum brain health – not too little, not too much, but just enough. In this study, published in the September 2017 issue of Neurology, researchers followed over 9,000 individuals for about seven years. They found that those with either high or low levels of magnesium in their blood were more likely to develop dementia.  In fact, these individuals (with magnesium that was higher or lower than the recommended levels) were as much as about 30 percent more likely to have this disease. So what does this all mean?


Does high or low magnesium cause dementia?

Not necessarily. This correlation or association does not necessarily indicate that magnesium is the cause of dementia. One reason why causation cannot be determined is that this study was done by drawing blood at one point in time. Blood levels of magnesium can change over time and levels of magnesium in the blood do not necessarily give an accurate picture of the overall levels of magnesium in the body.  Also, there may be many other factors that contribute to this association between magnesium levels and dementia.

It is possible that there is another factor all together which may cause both abnormal levels of magnesium and increased risk for dementia. However, researchers suggest magnesium levels may affect the development of dementia. More studies will be needed to know for sure.

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What is a healthy level of magnesium in our diets?

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult males eat between 400 to 420 milligrams per day, while adult females should eat between 310 and 320 milligrams per day. For infants and children these recommendations are lower.  In contrast, these recommendations are higher for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, as with anything related to diet, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider to decide what is best for your body’s specific needs.


What are some foods that contain magnesium?

  • Spinach – 1 cup, about 150 milligrams
  • Bananas – 1 banana,  about 40 milligrams
  • Almonds – 1 oz. (about 22 almonds), 80 milligrams
  • Kidney Beans – ½ cup cooked, 75 milligrams
  • Avocado – 1 whole, 58 milligrams


READ ALSO: Top 10 Magnesium Rich Foods For Your Diet Infographic


So, what does this study mean?

Well, it means that abnormally high or low levels of magnesium may indicate an increased risk for dementia. In the future, this may be an important tool used to screen for the risk of dementia. Perhaps most important is the path this study forges for new research. It may indicate an exciting method by which to detect an increased risk of dementia. Because, if we can detect increased risk, this may be an important step to early intervention.