“At this moment, magnesium levels are not routinely measured in daily clinical practice,” said lead researcher Dr. Brenda Kieboom, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam. “If our study results are replicated, magnesium levels could be used to screen for dementia , especially in people at risk for low magnesium levels.”
In a study of more than 9,500 men and women, the highest or lowest levels of magnesium appeared to increase the chances for dementia by as much as 30 percent.
She added “we cannot prove that low or high magnesium causes dementia on the basis of our data. For that, we need studies to see if supplements will reduce the risk.”
“Mental function can be seen as a precursor stage of dementia, and if we find similar associations with dementia this will support our theory for a causal association,” she said.
“We already found that proton pump inhibitors [acid reflux drugs such asNexium and Prilosec ] are associated with a higher risk for abnormally low magnesium levels, but we continue looking into other drugs,” she said.
However, one U.S. expert expressed caution over the findings.
“In general, I would worry most about low magnesium in the malnourished, for example, those suffering from alcoholism or starvation, and not so much in the general well-nourished population,” said Dr. Sam Gandy. He’s director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
SOURCES: Brenda C.T. Kieboom, M.D.,department of epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., director, Center for Cognitive Health, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City; Sept. 20, 2017, Neurology , online