LONDON: People with both high and low levels of magnesium -- an important electrolyte needed for proper muscle and nerve function -- in their blood may have a greater risk of developing dementia, according to a study.
Magnesium is needed for the heart to function normally, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar level and helps support the body's immune system.
However, people with both a low and high level of magnesium were found to be about 30 per cent more likely to develop dementia.
"Since the current treatment and prevention options for dementia are limited, we urgently need to identify new risk factors for dementia that could potentially be adjusted," said lead author Brenda C.T. Kieboom, from the Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
"If people could reduce their risk for dementia through diet or supplements, that could be very beneficial," Kieboom added.
For the study, published in the journal Neurology, the team involved 9,569 people with an average age of 65 who did not have dementia and whose blood was tested for magnesium levels.
Of the 1,771 people in the low magnesium group, 160 developed dementia, which is a rate of 10.2 per 1,000 person-years.
For the high magnesium group, 179 of the 1,748 people developed dementia, a rate of 11.4 per 1,000 person-years.
For the middle group, 102 of the 1,387 people developed dementia, a rate of 7.8.
The results were the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of dementia and magnesium levels, such as body mass index, smoking status, alcohol use and kidney function.
"These results are intriguing, but need to be confirmed with additional studies," Kieboom said.