An Overview of Magnesium L-Threonate

magnesium powder

Magnesium L-threonate (MgT) is a highly absorbable form of magnesium able to cross the blood-brain barrier and to easily force its way through cell membranes.

Unlike most dietary magnesium supplements, magnesium L-threonate is not generally used to overcome magnesium deficiencies but is used to support cognitive function. If you are only looking to address general magnesium deficiency you may wish to take magnesium citrate (typically at a dose of 200 to 400 mg).

Chelations with the vitamin C metabolite L-threonate (threonic acid) are known to enhance mineral bioavailability. In this case, it allows magnesium to be better delivered to the parts of the body, such as the brain, where it is required. It has been reported that the bioavailability of magnesium taken in the form of magnesium L-threonate is enhanced when dissolved in milk [1]. The bioavailability in the brain is also much greater than seen with most other forms of magnesium tablets e.g. magnesium glycinate and magnesium oxalate [2].


Memory and Cognition

benefits of magnesium threonate


With regards to the brain, learning and memory are fundamental functions that can be affected by both environment and diet. When taken orally, magnesium L-threonate has been shown to support memory (long and short term), enhance learning abilities, and improve working memory in rats [1].

In older rats there was also a positive effect on the maintenance of task completion ability. The same scientific research work also reported that a higher density of synaptophysin- (synaptic vesicle protein p38) and/or synaptobrevin-positive puncta occurred in certain subregions of the hippocampus strongly correlated with improved memory functions. The group also suggested that synaptic plasticity was enhanced in rats. Therefore using magnesium L-threonate to help promote levels of magnesium in the brain is likely to support synaptic facilitation, potentiation, memory, and learning in healthy individuals.

Further research has suggested that elevation of magnesium levels in the brain can help to support a healthy response to anxiety and other mental mechanisms [3]. Elevated magnesium is thought to enhance plasticity in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. The researchers demonstrated that increased magnesium levels resulted in an increase of signaling involving NMDA receptors and increased presynaptic puncta density in the prefrontal cortex in relation to fear memory in rats, these phenomena did not occur in the basolateral amygdala, suggesting that brain magnesium may act in a regional specific manner in the memory formation processes.


What is the Role of Magnesium in the Body

magnesium threonate - memory and learning


Magnesium (Mg2+) is an abundant mineral that is found in many foods. Despite this its intake levels in the general US population is lower than the RDA provided by the Food and Nutrition Board [4]. Some of the foods that are naturally rich in magnesium include almonds, cashews, edamame beans, salmon, soymilk, broccoli, peas, and spinach.

Severe deficiency is rare and tends to occur in people with diseases, especially those related to the kidney (which plays a major role in magnesium homeostasis, with around 120 mg of Mg being excreted by urine per day).

An adult body typically contains around 25 grams of magnesium. The majority of which is stored in cells and in the bones (50 to 60%), where it has a major role in bone structure and remodeling. It is also needed for RNA and DNA synthesis, energy production, glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation, and for use by the glutathione antioxidant. The levels of magnesium in blood serum are kept under strict control, and typically range from 0.75 and 0.95 mmol)/L [5].

Magnesium has been reported to support cardiovascular health [6], help support healthy blood sugar levels (most likely through its role in glucose metabolism)[7], to influence osteoblast and osteoclast activity and concentrations of vitamin D during bone formation and removal [8], it is also associated with neurotransmitter release [9], so healthy levels of the mineral may help support a healthy response to headaches.


Understanding the Research into the Role of Magnesium L-Threonate as a Brain Booster


Research into the use of magnesium as a ‘brain booster’ in humans is currently being performed by Magceutics with the aim of better delivering and increasing levels of magnesium ions in the brain. Some of the research aspects of the Magtein supplement investigated included responses to anxiety and sleep quality.

Dr. Guosong Liu, a neuroscientist from Tsinghua University in Beijing, is leading this research. His team previously demonstrated the role of the NMDA receptor 2B (NR2B) in increasing memory in the brain of mice through the strengthening of synaptic connections [10]. The group later went on to demonstrate the role of magnesium in supporting synaptic changes [11] and in promoting healthy memory [1].

Sleep quality has also been suggested to be enhanced in humans, in older people [12].

Further research at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Germany by Harald Murck strongly supports that intravenous magnesium may support cognitive function during sleep [13]. As Magnesium L-threonate is able to deliver magnesium across the blood-brain barrier to areas where it is required by the brain it may support cognition in healthy individuals.


Citations, Reviews, and References

[1] Slutsky et al. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.12.026.

[2] Bush. Kalzium ist nicht alles. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):143-4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.01.015.

[3] Abumaria et al. Effects of elevation of brain magnesium on fear conditioning, fear extinction, and synaptic plasticity in the infralimbic prefrontal cortex and lateral amygdala. J Neurosci. 2011 Oct 19;31(42):14871-81. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3782-11.2011.

[4] Moshfegh et al. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2005-2006: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food and Water Compared to 1997 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesiumexternal link disclaimer. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

[5] Elin. Assessment of magnesium status for diagnosis and therapy. Magnes Research. 2010 Dec;23(4):S194-8. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2010.0213.

[6] Del Gobbo. Circulating and dietary magnesium and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;98(1):160-73. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.053132

[7] Rodríguez-Morán et al. The role of magnesium in type 2 diabetes: a brief based-clinical review. Magnes Res. 2011 Dec;24(4):156-62. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2011.0299.

[8] Rude et al. Skeletal and hormonal effects of magnesium deficiency. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):131-41.

[9] Sun-Edelstein and Mauskop. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 Mar;9(3):369-79. doi: 10.1586/14737175.9.3.369.

[10] Tang et al. Genetic enhancement of learning and memory in mice. Nature. 1999 Sep 2;401(6748):63-9.

[11] Slutsky et al. Enhancement of synaptic plasticity through chronically reduced Ca2+ flux during uncorrelated activity.Neuron. 2004 Dec 2;44(5):835-49.

[12] Held et al. Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Send to Pharmacopsychiatry. 2002 Jul;35(4):135-43.

[13] Murck and Steiger. Mg2+ reduces ACTH secretion and enhances spindle power without changing delta power during sleep in men -- possible therapeutic implications. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Jun;137(3):247-52.

[14] Spencer et al. Inhibitory effects of zinc on magnesium balance and magnesium absorption in man. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 1994 Oct;13(5):479-84.


Further Reading

  • Reddit: Can this nootropic be used as a sleep aid? {}
  • Quora:  How helpful is Magnesium l threonate with memory? {}
  • National Institutes of Health: Magnesium Fact sheet for Health professionals {}
  • WebMD: Are you getting enough magnesium in your diet?  {}
  • Magnesium Uses, Dosage & Side Effects {}
  • Nature: Testing magnesium's brain-boosting effects
  • {}