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Magnesium Calms the Brain
People don't need to become severely deficient in magnesium for the brain to become hyperactive. A new study confirms earlier reports that a marginal magnesium intake overexcites the brain's neurons and results in less coherence--creating cacaphony rather than symphony--according to electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements. During half of the six-month study, 13 women consumed 115 milligrams of magnesium daily--or about 40 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). During the other half, they got 315 mg daily--a little more than the 280 mg recommended for women. After only six weeks on the marginal intake, EEG readings showed significant differences in brain function.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant element in the brain and is essential in regulating central nervous system excitability. Clinical studies of people severely deficient in this essential element have reported epilepsy-type convulsions, dizziness and muscle tremors or twitching as well as many psychological symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, confusion, depression, apathy, loss of appetite and insomnia. While the marginal intake in this study did not produce such severe symptoms, it did hype brain activity.
This is the first experimental study in which magnesium intakes were tightly controlled and EEG measurements were analyzed by computer so they could be statistically compared. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, cottonseed, peanut and soybean flours, green leafy vegetables and spices. It's better to get magnesium from foods rather than supplements because high doses have a laxative effect--the body's way of preventing toxic levels.
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