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26th November 2021

Magnesium L-Threonate: A scientific breakthrough in neuroprotective therapy

Magnesium L-Threonate: A scientific breakthrough in neuroprotective therapy

So vital is it for good health it has been nicknamed the ‘master mineral,’ yet until very recently the therapeutic use of magnesium to target cognitive function was limited due to the restrictions posed in passing through the blood-brain barrier. Medical science has now developed a synthesized form of magnesium that is able to cross that divide.

Discover how magnesium l-threonate has been found to reverse brain ageing, boost memory and sharpen your mind.

What is Magnesium L-Threonate?

A neuroscientific innovation, magnesium l-threonate is the result of a breakthrough due to research into supporting cognitive function and the nervous system. Magnesium has long been known to give protection from stress, anxiety, depression, and memory problems but there was always a question mark around its therapeutic use because in supplement form, its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier was uncertain.

Within the brain it boosts plasticity and encourages renewal of brain cells. It is this action that gives rise to the encouraging prospect of help with memory lapses, anxiety, brain degeneration, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

An insufficient level of magnesium is generally a common problem in most adults, but as it is a safe, natural mineral there are great benefits to be gained in adding it as a dietary supplement. The specific use of magnesium l-threonate has been found to help support cognitive ability, improve focus, boost learning power and concentration, support good memory, as well as honing decision-making skills.

How is Magnesium L-Threonate Produced?

Magnesium supplements are chelated. This just means that the molecules are combined and bonded with other molecules to give greater bioavailability. This is also the case with magnesium l-threonate, and it is this bonding of magnesium molecules with l-threonate that has been found to give the stability and level of absorption needed to cross the barrier to the brain.

The innovation of chelating magnesium with l-threonate is down to the research of a team of neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Tsinghua University in Beijing who bonded magnesium to l-threonate using a vitamin C metabolite.

This is important research in the quest to find ways of supporting cognitive function, particularly in older adults reporting problems with memory. The researchers were also seeking help for those struggling with sleep disorders and a lack of concentration.

Clinical Trial Results

A twelve-week clinical trial with participants whose ages ranged between 50 and 70 and who were reporting these problems, was conducted using magnesium l-threonate vs placebo.

The study concentrated on general cognitive impairment, working memory, episodic memory, attention and executive function which is the term used for skills such as an ability to plan, set goals and put plans into action. It also looked into Alzheimer’s disease in older adults and sleep disorders. The results have been published in a peer-reviewed medical paper expressing overall cognitive ability improvement and reduction in cognitive fluctuation.

Results showed that magnesium l-threonate raised levels of magnesium in the brain and most of those participating in the trial showed improved cognitive function. The study results also indicated that l-threonate did not appear to help significantly with sleep, mood or anxiety when compared with participants using a placebo, but neither was any worsening of these issues noted.

An encouraging finding from this study was that magnesium l-threonate had the effect of reducing the biological age of the brain.

How Does Magnesium L-Threonate Work?

Magnesium l-threonate can help with brain function.


Magnesium is highly regarded as a natural relaxant due to its ability to increase the calming neurotransmitter GABA and because it can reduce the presence of stress hormones. It was confirmed by researchers that magnesium l-threonate may be helpful in cases of anxiety disorder, but it was also found to be beneficial when treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is known that there is a link between having low magnesium levels and all forms of dementia, so diets rich in magnesium contribute to lower risks of dementia. Scientists are hopeful that magnesium l-threonate supplements can provide neuroprotective advantages when treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Side Effects

Because magnesium is an elemental mineral and our body uses it naturally, it’s quite difficult to overdose. The main indication that you are taking too much magnesium is loose stools and general digestive upset. Almost all forms of magnesium, apart from magnesium l-threonate, have a laxative effect, and this may be a useful feature or not depending on the state of your digestive process.

In terms of taking magnesium l-threonate, the main reported side effects are headaches and a feeling of increased blood flow to the head. Drowsiness may also be a side effect. Unlike other forms of magnesium, the reason that l-threonate doesn’t have a laxative effect is that it is mainly assimilated by the brain.

If you are having to take antibiotics or medication to control high blood pressure, blood thinners, osteoporosis medication or muscle relaxants you should check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements as they could possibly change the effectiveness of these medications.

If you have kidney disease you should avoid taking magnesium supplements.

What Foods Contain Magnesium?

Foods containing magnesium include oily fish, tofu and dark chocolate.


Magnesium from certain foods can help with health in various ways. Magnesium can boost brain power, protect your heart, improve memory, and help you to stay clear of diabetes.

Foods highest in magnesium are dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach (possibly the richest of all) kale, spring cabbage, and Brussel tops. Also, amongst the top players for getting your daily magnesium fix are unrefined cereals, including oats and bran flakes, wholemeal bread, peas, beans, and nuts. Other magnesium rich sources of everyday foods include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Tofu
  • Seeds such as flax, pumpkin and chia
  • Quinoa
  • Oily fish
  • Bananas
  • Soy, including soy milk on your cereal and in drinks

You can see from this list that by eating a healthy and balanced diet you may be able to provide your body with the levels of magnesium needed for good health. However, if you are uncertain that you can consistently meet your body’s needs then a magnesium supplement is a good idea to ensure an adequate supply.

With regard to cognitive function, if you suspect that your memory and concentration is not what it once was or if you are struggling with feelings of anxiety and stress, you may well benefit from taking magnesium l-threonate. One point worth mentioning, you need to be aware that magnesium l-threonate will not necessarily do the job of other types of magnesium supplement.

There are various other magnesium supplements, and more information on these and how they help keep you heathy will follow.

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When it comes to keeping you informed on health and nutrition, we’re here for you and aim to always be a source of science-backed information.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of using natural supplements, or would find advice helpful, please feel free to contact us on 01297 553932.

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