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Magnesium, both in high and low levels in the blood, put people at greater risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published this month in the medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study highlights the importance of identifying risk factors of dementia because it is incurable and gets worse over time.

My hope, as an advocate and educator of aging issues, is to inform people about lifestyle changes that lead to lower chances of developing this unforgiveable disease.

The study followed nearly 10,000 people with an average age of 65.

The participants were divided into groups based on their magnesium levels (which was tested at the beginning of the study). The participants had magnesium levels in the normal range with only about 108 people with levels below and two people with levels above normal.

Both of those groups with individuals at the lowest and highest magnesium levels had an increased risk of dementia when compared to those in the middle.

  • Both low and high groups were about 30 percent more likely to develop dementia
  • Of the 1,771 in low group, 160 developed dementia (10.2 percent rate)
  • Of the 1,748 in the high group, 179 development dementia (11.4 percent rate)
  • Of the 1,387 in middle, 102 developed dementia (7.8 percent rate)

The results came back the same when other factors that can put people at risk for dementia were accounted for.

Foods that are good sources of magnesium include spinach, nuts, black beans, whole grains, yogurt and a favorite of many, avocado.

If these results are confirmed, this means we have yet another tool to help us fight back against this disease. At the very least, we will be able to screen people for increased risk, and that’s a big deal. Because this study so far only shows the associations, not causes, of dementia, it is one of the many tools we hope to use in the future to help identify risk factors for dementia.

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