Within the larger brain health category, magnesium supplementation and status is being investigated for everything ranging from neuroprotection, depression, and hyperactivity to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Pavey points to a 2016 study in older adults published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that found that supplementation with one bioavailable form of magnesium, magnesium L-threonate—the Magtein ingredient from AIDP; City of Industry, CA—helped to improve supplemented subjects’ “brain age” by more than nine years.1
Stress management is a growing market for dietary supplements and natural alternatives, and Bonnie Hilton Green, founder and CEO of magnesium supplements brand OMG! Nutrition, says that “stress and sleep are driving the interest to supplement with magnesium.” OMG! Nutrition utilizes the patented TRAACS form of chelated bioavailable magnesium from Balchem Corp.’s (New Hampton, NY) Albion minerals line.
Dehnert from Nutranext, maker of Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm line of magnesium-containing supplements, says: “With stress levels rising for our consumers every year, we think this is the right area to focus on.”
“Magnesium is an all-natural solution,” OMG!’s Green says. “It calms your body and mind by activating the same neurotransmitters as prescription sleep aids—but magnesium is safe for everyday, long-time use.”
Indeed, says Rosanoff, “There’s very good evidence that oral magnesium is incredibly safe.”
That’s a good thing, given our general population’s underconsumption of magnesium from the diet. CRN’s Wong points out that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified magnesium as a “shortfall nutrient.” USDA data from 2016 stated that 50% of Americans do not meet recommended levels of magnesium intake.
Making matters worse, the current RDA for magnesium may not be accurate because our population’s body weight has gone up, says Rosanoff. “We now know, and this is absolutely from recent research, that when you have a higher body weight, your magnesium requirement goes up.” Unfortunately, she says, current RDAs are built on a lower standard reference body weight. This means that our need for magnesium today may be even higher than what current RDAs reflect.
Why don’t we get enough magnesium in today’s diet? Many have reported a depletion of soil minerals as the culprit, but Rosanoff says it is actually something else that is impeding our ability to get as much magnesium as we used to from the food supply: the “huge” emphasis on high-yield food production, as well as food processing.
Each year, farmers set forth to grow plants that produce the highest crop yields. Because farmers are stretching their production from the same amount of soil (and nutrients in that soil), the level of nutrients, including magnesium, that we get in the food we eat is diminished. But even more so than that, Rosanoff says, current food processing strips out the magnesium that we’d otherwise get from good food. Up to 100% of the magnesium in oilseeds, for instance, which are otherwise good sources of magnesium, can be destroyed in food processing. Those oils are used to cook many of our processed foods. The same goes for sugar, where much of the magnesium is removed during processing.
Given all of this, says Rosanoff, it’s very difficult to get the magnesium your body desperately needs from the modern diet. Therefore, she says, “We’re lucky we have supplements.”
The supplements industry has an important role to play in the magnesium revolution that’s hopefully to come. Ingredient suppliers continue to churn out ingredient improvements (e.g., more bioavailable forms of the mineral, as well as easier-to-formulate-with options) and research.
Seeing the magnesium product wave that’s growing, magnesium brands are on the search for the best-quality raw materials (e.g., magnesium citrate versus oxide versus other options). These days, magnesium fortification can be gotten in everything from supplements (pills, gummies, etc.) and drink mixes to extended-release solutions. “Obstacles to supplementing with magnesium include large pills or poor-tasting powder, laxative effect, and low bioavailability,” OMG! Nutrition’s Green says. “Supplement manufacturers are working out ways to address these issues…”
Pavey says: “As continued research becomes available for magnesium, I think we will begin to see new forms, advanced delivery systems, and more health-targeted formulas.”
“Magnesium supplements will be on the industry’s radar well beyond 2020,” says Nutranext’s Dehnert. “Much of the magnesium category today is commoditized, so the brands that will build category awareness and adoption successfully will do it through compelling and modern brands that educate consumers about magnesium benefits and deliver a great, holistic consumer experience.”
Pavey adds: “More people are becoming aware of this important mineral due to more prolific discussion in health news outlets…Since magnesium can support multiple body systems, it is likely people are interested in being proactive for overall body health.”
Magnesium is more than just a passing trend, says Green: “Short-term, fad solutions come and go, but magnesium is on the rise because it’s meeting the consumer’s demand for a natural solution to their everyday problems stemming from today’s hectic lifestyle.”
2020 Ingredient Trends to Watch for Food, Drinks, and Dietary Supplements:
- Liu G et al. “Efficacy and safety of MMFS-01, a synapse density enhancer, for treating cognitive impairment in older adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, vol. 49, no. 4 (2016): 971-990. Accessed at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927823/