CANBERRA, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have linked higher magnesium intake to better brain health later in life.
In a study published on Friday, a team from the Neuroimaging and Brain Lab at Australian National University (ANU) found that high intake of magnesium-rich foods such as spinach and nuts could reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Researchers studied more than 6,000 cognitively healthy people aged between 40 and 73 from Britain over 16 months.
They found that those who consume more than 550 mg of magnesium every day have a brain age one year younger at age 55 than those with a normal magnesium intake of 350 mg per day.
Khawlah Alateeq, lead author of the study, said the findings show that the preventative effects of a higher dietary magnesium intake could begin in people's 40s or earlier.
"Our study shows a 41 percent increase in magnesium intake could lead to less age-related brain shrinkage, which is associated with better cognitive function and lower risk or delayed onset of dementia in later life," she said in a media release.
"This research highlights the potential benefits of a diet high in magnesium and the role it plays in promoting good brain health."
Women, especially those who were postmenopausal, were found to benefit more from the neuroprotective effects of high dietary magnesium intake than men.
Erin Walsh, co-author of the research, said the report could lead to the development of public health interventions aimed at improving brain health and reducing dementia risks through diet.
According to the World Health Organization, there are currently more than 55 million people with dementia worldwide, with Alzheimer's disease the most common type.
Experts have warned that the number of cases is projected to nearly triple to 150 million by 2050.
"Since there is no cure for dementia and the development of pharmacological treatments have been unsuccessful for the past 30 years, it's been suggested that greater attention should be directed towards prevention," Walsh said. ■