Doctor holding hologram of brain with magnesium supplementation

How Magnesium Helps Reverse Brain Aging

Scientists at MIT show how a form of magnesium reversed measures of brain aging by nine years in people.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in December 2022. Written by: David Cameron.

Around 65% of U.S. adults consume inadequate amounts of magnesium in their diet.1,2

Magnesium is especially important in the brain.

It plays key roles in cognitive function, including learning and memory.3

There are different forms of magnesium, but not all are effective at getting into the brain.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a form called magnesium L-threonate that boosts brain levels quickly and efficiently.3-5

In animal models, increasing brain magnesium helps ward off cognitive decline and dementia.3-6

In a human study of adults with cognitive impairment, magnesium L-threonate reversed measures of brain aging by an astonishing nine years.7

A Form for the Brain

Magnesium is essential for bone density, nerve function, and much more.1,8-10

Magnesium enables brain cell communication, particularly in areas critical for learning and formation of memories. Magnesium deficiency is associated with loss of cognitive function.1,10-13

MIT researchers developed magnesium L-threonate to more effectively elevate levels of magnesium in the brain.3

In a rodent study, magnesium L-threonate raised cerebral spinal fluid levels of magnesium by 54%.14

How It Helps the Brain

Once in the brain, magnesium contributes to its healthy function in numerous ways.

For example, magnesium protects synapses, the structural communication connection points between brain cells.11

In animal studies, increasing brain levels of magnesium increased the total number of synapses, improved synaptic plasticity (the ability of synapses to adapt), and stimulated growth of new brain cells.3-6,14,15

This improved cognitive function, including learning and memory.

Animal models of brain aging, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and brain injury all show that magnesium intake results in improvements in cognition.3,4,6,14-18

Magnesium L-threonate leads to greater improvements in memory, number of synapses, and other cognitive functions than other forms tested.5,14

Reversing Human Brain Aging

Scientists have long known that a magnesium deficiency can result in cognitive problems. Studies are now starting to demonstrate that replenishing magnesium can improve cognitive abilities.

In one clinical study, researchers gave older people with early cognitive impairment 1,500-2,000 mg (depending on body weight) of magnesium L-threonate or a placebo daily for 12 weeks.7 Subjects began with some impairment in executive functioning, the ability to plan, adapt, focus, and make decisions.

At the beginning of the study, the participants averaged 57.8 years of age. However, their brain age based on cognitive functioning was 68.3 years old. By the end of the trial, those receiving magnesium L-threonate decreased their brain age a remarkable nine years.

Another human trial showed promising preliminary results in patients diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia. Even at this more advanced stage of cognitive decline, magnesium L-threonate led to improvements in cognition and executive function.19

Scientists have started to evaluate magnesium for neuropsychiatric conditions as well.

In a 2021 open-label, pilot study, 15 adults with moderate ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) received magnesium L-threonate for up to 12 weeks.

Nearly half of the participants displayed clinical improvements. The authors concluded that supplementation was effective and well-tolerated.20


Magnesium deficiency is tied to health conditions including cognitive decline. Yet most adults do not get enough magnesium from their diets.

In the brain, magnesium is needed for the proper functioning of synapses involved in complex tasks such as learning and memory.

Magnesium L-threonate is easily absorbed and taken up into the brain, providing cognitive benefits as shown by animal and human studies.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

What you need to know

Magnesium That Protects the Brain

  • Magnesium is a mineral required for the function of hundreds of enzymes throughout the body.
  • In the brain, it is needed for critical brain cell communication linked to cognitive functions like learning and memory.
  • In animal models and human trials, magnesium L-threonate is tied to improvements in cognitive function and mental health.
  • In one clinical study, magnesium L-threonate reversed measures of brain aging by nine years.


  1. Kostov K, Halacheva L. Role of Magnesium Deficiency in Promoting Atherosclerosis, Endothelial Dysfunction, and Arterial Stiffening as Risk Factors for Hypertension. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jun 11;19(6).
  2. Qu X, Jin F, Hao Y, et al. Magnesium and the risk of cardiovascular events: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e57720.
  3. Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77.
  4. Huang Y, Huang X, Zhang L, et al. Magnesium boosts the memory restorative effect of environmental enrichment in Alzheimer’s disease mice. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2018 Jan;24(1):70-9.
  5. Sadir S, Tabassum S, Emad S, et al. Neurobehavioral and biochemical effects of magnesium chloride (MgCl2), magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) and magnesium-L-threonate (MgT) supplementation in rats: A dose dependent comparative study. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2019 Jan;32(1(Supplementary)):277-83.
  6. Li W, Yu J, Liu Y, et al. Elevation of brain magnesium prevents synaptic loss and reverses cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Mol Brain. 2014 Sep 13;7:65.
  7. Liu G, Weinger JG, Lu ZL, et al. Efficacy and Safety of MMFS-01, a Synapse Density Enhancer, for Treating Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(4):971-90.
  8. DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668.
  9. Laires MJ, Monteiro CP, Bicho M. Role of cellular magnesium in health and human disease. Front Biosci. 2004 Jan 1;9:262-76.
  10. Vink R. Magnesium in the CNS: recent advances and developments. Magnes Res. 2016 Mar 1;29(3):95-101.
  11. Billard JM. Brain free magnesium homeostasis as a target for reducing cognitive aging. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System. Adelaide (AU)2011.
  12. Al-Ghazali K, Eltayeb S, Musleh A, et al. Serum Magnesium and Cognitive Function Among Qatari Adults. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020;12:101.
  13. Chen C, Xun P, Unverzagt F, et al. Serum magnesium concentration and incident cognitive impairment: the reasons for geographic and racial differences in stroke study. European journal of nutrition. 2021 2021/04//;60(3):1511-20.
  14. Sun Q, Weinger JG, Mao F, et al. Regulation of structural and functional synapse density by L-threonate through modulation of intraneuronal magnesium concentration. Neuropharmacology. 2016 Sep;108:426-39.
  15. Jia S, Liu Y, Shi Y, et al. Elevation of Brain Magnesium Potentiates Neural Stem Cell Proliferation in the Hippocampus of Young and Aged Mice. J Cell Physiol. 2016 Sep;231(9):1903-12.
  16. Shen Y, Dai L, Tian H, et al. Treatment Of Magnesium-L-Threonate Elevates The Magnesium Level In The Cerebrospinal Fluid And Attenuates Motor Deficits And Dopamine Neuron Loss In A Mouse Model Of Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2019;15:3143-53.
  17. Liu C, Cheng Y, Guo Y, et al. Magnesium-L-threonate alleviate colonic inflammation and memory impairment in chronic-plus-binge alcohol feeding mice. Brain Res Bull. 2021 Sep;174:184-93.
  18. Sen AP, Gulati A. Use of magnesium in traumatic brain injury. Neurotherapeutics. 2010 Jan;7(1):91-9.
  19. Wroolie TE, Watson K, Chen K, et al. Open label trial of magnesium l-threonate in patients with dementia. Abstract from the 21st International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) World Congress. Innovation in Aging. 2017;1(S1):170.
  20. Surman C, Vaudreuil C, Boland H, et al. L-Threonic Acid Magnesium Salt Supplementation in ADHD: An Open-Label Pilot Study. J Diet Suppl. 2021;18(2):119-31.