Migraine Brain Fog? Try Magnesium Threonate

pure encapsulations cognimag bottle with a few pills on a white table

We all know magnesium has been shown to decrease migraine symptoms in general, but often we forget that different types of magnesium are helpful for different areas. Magnesium Threonate is supposed to be the best for neurological issues, particularly because it has a high absorption rate and can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This particular study found it’s helpful with memory decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and enhanced learning in young rats. You’ll often see some kind of “neuro” or “cogni” in the name based on the research that supports its ability to help with cognitive and neurological functions. Learn how this supplement helps with brain fog associated with migraine.

Vestibular Migraine and Memory Impairment/Brain Fog

One of the ways vestibular migraine hit me hardest was with cognitive function. Before my symptoms began I had a quick wit and often managed the work of multiple people at my job. I say that not to be dramatic, but because literally someone was pregnant on my team at any given time. At one point, everyone on my team was pregnant but me! Needless to say, there were a lot of maternity leaves to be covered that year.

When the chronic illness began, I couldn’t even think of small words like “dinner” without having to pause and think incredibly hard. I’d be having a conversation and would get hung up on what I was trying to say, racking my foggy brain for basic words. Often I wonder if the anxiety I felt from this exacerbated my symptoms. I felt stupid. There were also points where I had some short term memory loss and would misplace things regularly or forget conversations. These are all symptoms of migraine and some vestibular disorders, specifically vestibular migraine.

Good magnesium threonate is expensive, but I wanted to see if this supplement is truly worth the price, or if you can get good results with Magnesium Glycinate alone. Plus I’ve been getting more and more emails from readers quoting “brain fog” as one of their most annoying symptoms and this seemed to be the one option that not many of us have tried. So I recruited Jennifer Bragdon to help me out and we both tested Pure Encapsulations CogniMag by taking 2 pills each day. Both of us saw results within a few short weeks, but we wondered if it was just a placebo effect, so we kept with it for about 2 months.

Here are our reviews:

“CogniMag is my new coffee. ” – Alicia’s Review

It was about 2 weeks in when I was heading to Arizona for our annual family trip. Of course my husband and his siblings are all about that caffeine life, having a few cups of coffee a day. In fact just sniffing the coffee his sister brews is enough to have every hair on your head dancing around! Me? I’m stuck with my 99.9% caffeine free Swiss Water Processed coffee no matter how tired I’m feeling. I noticed fairly quickly after I would take my Magnesium Threonate in the morning that I had more energy and mental clarity. This was even on mornings I was really struggling with the time and sleep schedule changes. As time continued, I noticed this was a common occurrence.

I continued taking 1 pill in the morning with my 2 magnesium glycinate, and 1 pill in the evening with my remaining magnesium glycinate. My sleep didn’t feel as light as normal, and I got through the night without waking up as often as I typically do. When I woke up, I felt more rested. But the biggest difference for me was with that morning brain fog. It was so nice to be able to have that extra kick of alertness without having to go work out or suffer through a few hours of the floaty headed feeling. Not only that, but I felt like my posts were a little easier to write. It was as if my brain was functioning on a higher, faster level. To me, the cost was definitely worth it and I was SHOCKED that I felt that way. I plan to continue taking magnesium threonate in addition to my other supplements.

“At the very first dose of CogniMag, my pain went away. ” – Jennifer’s Review

If you belong to the Facebook group Migraine Strong, the one thing you know for sure is that I love magnesium. Love, love, love it!  When my doctor suggested I try it back when I was still drowning in symptoms, I tried MANY and I mean MANY drugstore brands. When I finally found Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate, I noticed the difference immediately. It was so calming it was like a big, hard hug. Here is a little 411 on Pure Encapsulations. It is a high quality supplement brand that is mostly sold through medical providers. They use the purest ingredients and do not use coatings, binders, shellacs, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners or colors, fragrance or excipients that would affect the bioavailability of ingredients. They also omit wheat, gluten, nuts, egg, preservatives, hydrogenated oils and magnesium stearate. Pure Encapsulations is manufactured in Massachusetts in a state-of-the-art facility with temperature, humidity and dust-controlled rooms and sterilization practices. The facility has an open door policy for any physician who would like to visit. They test ingredients and final products for potency and things like mercury as well as other contaminants or undesirable features. So when Alicia asked me to trial Pure Encapsulations CogniMag with her, I was all in. 

CogniMag is different than other forms of magnesium because it contains magnesium threonate, one of the most aggressively studied forms of magnesium. It is a patented product called Magteinä, developed by researchers at MIT including a Nobel Prize winner. Research shows magnesium to be a critical player in the activation of nerve channels that are involved in synaptic plasticity.  That means that magnesium is critical for the physiological events that are fundamental to the processes of learning, memory, cognitive function and for healthy mitochondria. Magnesium threonate’s claim to fame is that it’s highly absorbable & has the unique ability to permeate the brain and enhance the receptors that are involved in this process.  It is said to be the only form of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier and significantly increase the levels of magnesium within the brain.  So with all of that in mind, I was really excited to give CogniMag a try. Also it also contains what Pure Encapsulations calls a “PhytoMemory proprietary blend” which is wild blueberry, strawberry and spinach extract. Bring on the phyto-nutrients! 

Honestly, I feel like I went in to this trial with a little side eye. I love my magnesium glycinate and I was pretty sure nothing would top it, but I have to say, there is something different about this magnesium. Overall I just feel a little bit clearer with a little less brain fog. I used to have very low level head pain pretty much at the end of each day. After the very first dose of CogniMag, my pain went away.  For the first couple of weeks I literally thought this stuff was a miracle! I had no pain days…at all…none! But then my typical Menstrual Migraine kicked in bringing me 4 solid days of pain and I realized it’s not a miracle, but it is pretty darn great. It did give me relief during the remainder of the month. Other than my Menstrual Migraine pain days, I’ve had just one pain day since beginning CogniMag around July 4th. Needless to say, I give it two strong thumbs up.

CogniMag won’t replace my current magnesium glycinate, which I feel strongly helps calm my vestibular symptoms, but I will continue to use it alongside my current magnesium.  The only drawback that I can see to giving this one a try is the price point. It is what I consider to be a very expensive supplement at $63 for 120 capsules.  So if you take two a day, it will last you two months. I keep reminding myself that old saying…you get what you pay for. Because of the high quality of ingredients used in Pure Encapsulations products, I notice that I require much less than the recommended dose for those with Migraine (800mg per day). I spend less money in the long run by leaving inferior products behind.

If you give CogniMag a try, let us know how it goes!

Less Expensive CogniMag Alternatives

Updated 12/28/18: Several readers have emailed me to update me on their favorite brands that are a little less expensive than CogniMag. If you find this particular brand too expensive, give these guys a try!
Magtein ($29)
Teraputics ($29)

UK Friends here are a few brands to try:
Dr Mercola & Life Extension

Reader Reviews: 

“I wanted to drop you a line to say that adding magnesium threonate has been a major game changer. It clears up the heavy head feeling I have when I wake up. The change has been remarkable” – Aimee

“I started taking the Magnesium Threonate close to 2 months ago.  When I had to increase my dosage of Nortriptyline to 50 mg I noticed I was fuzzy headed all the time.  I added the  Magnesium Threonate and I am in pretty good shape now and I have had to increase my dosage of the Nortp to 75 mg to boot.  It has made a big difference.  But basically after I read page on supplements I now take both Magnesium’s, B2, CoQ10 and Ginger everyday.  The whole package works well…For me I have had to find alternative brands because the Pure Encap are too expensive.” – Nancy 

Please note that although we had great results with CogniMag, we are not saying it was the cure for our Vestibular Migraine or dizziness. It simply helped with common Vestibular Migraine symptoms like cognitive issues, brain fog, or memory impairment. I did not replace any of my medications or supplements with CogniMag and still follow this plan

We have no affiliation with the Pure Encapsulations brand and did not get paid to review these. However, these links are affiliate links which means if you directly purchase a CogniMag, I will get a small percentage of profit from Amazon. Because I want you to know that we’re not just pushing this product for financial gain, the initial proceeds were donated in my family’s name to the Vestibular Disorder Association for Balance Awareness Week.

magnesium threonate for migraine and vestibular migraine. this supplement is wonderful for brain fog and mental clarity #migrainerelief #migraineremedies

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.

31 comments

  1. Mary

    This was so helpful! I, too, struggle with daily brain fog. I will buy a bottle of this to boost my PR magnesium glycinate.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I was surprised at how quickly it worked for me since I think the glycinate took more time to notice a difference with. You’ll have to see if it’s the same for you. I’ll just keep adding reviews. 🙂

      Reply

  2. Dana McGuinn

    Hi Alicia! I am also taking Magnesium Glycinate by Pure Encapsulations. I forwarded your article to my ND and she said adding the CogniMag is a great idea! How much glycinate are you currently taking? What time of day? I’m trying to work my way up to 1200mg, but my GI is super sensitive (we’re working on fixing that as well!)

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hey Dana! I currently take 4 of the 120mg magnesium glycinate pills and 2 of the magnesium l-threonate. I split them up by taking 2 of the mag glycinate and 1 of the threonate in the morning and 1 in the evening, both with food. If I’m having a particularly bad day, I’ll add more magnesium glycinate. I used to take about 800mg a day, but this seems to help just as much as before. I will say that the addition of the l-threonate didn’t upset my stomach at all! You’ll have to let me know how it goes for you.

      Reply

      1. Dana

        Two weeks into adding the threonate along with my glycinate and I cannot believe the difference in my brain fog…or should I say lack of brain fog. Even during my period I seemed to have more energy and less fog!

        Reply

        1. Alicia

          Dana thank you so much for letting me know! I’m so glad it’s working well for you. I’m trying to collect some more reviews on it to add. We were shocked at how quickly we noticed a difference too.

          Reply

  3. Rhonda Murphy

    I’ll give it a try and let you know. I use Preventa migraine with Butterbur, magnesium, feverfew and B2. But, I’m curious if this will make a difference. I will check to see if there’s such a thing as taking too much magnesium.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      There’s really not as far as magnesium! I know people who take over 1000mg a day. But your stomach will let you know if you get too much. 🙂

      Reply

  4. Nancy

    Hi! I can’t find anywhere in my area to purchase or buy Pure Encapsulations. Do you have any advice it seems that I need to be a Dr of some sort to order. My zip code is 42104 and there’s nothing around me I’m so bummed. I have 24/7 chronic vestibular migraines and would really like to incorporate this supplement and see if it helps. Thank you.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hi Nancy – Yes, they are only sold through medical professionals. Amazon has one on staff to accommodate this so you can order through them online here. I can give you some other websites to order from too, although amazon seems to be the favorite because of prime. I hope that helps!

      Reply

    2. Dana

      Nancy, I get mine through http://www.pureformulas.com – you can even acquire points that add up to dollar amounts toward future purchases. I get free 2 day shipping with ShopRunner as well!

      Reply

  5. Jenny

    Hi Alicia. I just ordered CogniMag for my daughter. I’m wondering if you’re still as pleased with it as you were when you wrote this blog, about 2 months ago…?? Thank you for your site—such an amazing resource!!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hi Jenny,

      Yes! In fact since I wrote it I’ve had a a few people message me saying they felt a difference within 2-3 weeks (or just a few days!) as well. So far all the messages have been positive, so you’ll have to let me know how it goes for her. I’d love to do an updated page of reviews so people don’t just think this is a sales pitch. 🙂

      Reply

  6. Nick

    I’ve been on it for about 12 days and haven’t noticed a difference. I’ve been taking the dose recommended on the bottle 2 pills 2 times a day which if I read the bottle correctly means I’m getting 144mg of magnesium total for the day. I normally take 500mg daily of my other magnesium pill and have tried all the other main magnesium types (including different types of glycinate) and haven’t noticed a difference between them and taking magnesium in general maybe helps a little with my fatigue. Given I’m taking the magtein, I’ve been only taking 400mg of my other magnesium though given I haven’t seen results I decided to make it 500mg and that made me a little dizzier (though who knows if it was that). Either way I’m going to stick with 400mg of my other magnesium. I have until 11/17/18 to return the magtein to amazon (hopefully they refund me if it doesn’t work) so I plan to try it til then. Do you think I should try raising or lowering the magtein dose? My neurologist didn’t recommend I bother with magtein and my pharmacist said “why not” to it and neither of them work with dizziness.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hey Nick, While a lot of us saw a difference with the threonate in 2-3 weeks, it took me almost 4 months to notice a difference with magnesium in general when I first started. Most natural treatments do take a while to take effect and I certainly wouldn’t be discouraged after less than 2 weeks unless you really want your money back. I will say I’m not sure how much magtein helps with dizziness as when I started it I wasn’t having a lot of dizzy days. What I mainly use it for (and what I’ve heard from others that it helps with the most) is the brain fog and that slow thinking where you can’t recall words. If you haven’t noticed a difference with that, I’d say to re-evaluate after you finish the bottle to at least give it a fair shot, but I can also understand it’s very expensive. I really rely on glycinate (as it sounds like you’re doing) to help with overall dizziness and keep my VM attacks limited since it’s much less expensive. I currently only do the cognimag 1x a day in the morning, so I think with 2x a day you should be noticing a difference at some point if it’s going to work for you. Johns Hopkins recommends at least 400mg of magnesium for migraine management, so you’re really doing everything right.

      I’m also wondering if you’re just relying on magnesium or if you’ve implemented any other VM treatments like medication, diet, etc? Often we need more than one thing to help us out. I will say that few of the natural treatments that my neuro (who I love and who treats mostly Vestibular Migraine) told me to not bother with, like the HYH diet, ended up working out really well for me. I think there’s still a lot to be learned about this illness, even for them. It’s really trial and error for what works best for you!

      Reply

  7. Christina Weeter

    I also recently started taking CogniMag according to the directions on the bottle (2 pills 2x a day) and seem to be doing slightly worse than when I was taking a higher dosage of magnesium (400mg 2x a day). My other magnesium pills were from Trader Joe’s and a mix of 3 oxide, citrate, & chelate. I’m not seeing any real improvement yet and wonder if I might need more magnesium overall or if it’s just the crazy weather fluctuations. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hi Christina,

      I would not recommend replacing your 400mg with this magnesium alone! It’s simply an idea to supplement any magnesium you’re already taking, especially if brain fog is an issue. I take 400mg of magnesium glycinate and then just 2 pills of the CogniMag. Hopefully that will help save some money too. It could definitely be weather fluctuations as well, especially as we change seasons. I’d recommend looking into the PE Magnesium Glycinate (or the Metagenics one is good too). If you did great on the TJ’s then stick with that, but mag citrate and oxide can often cause stomach issues, oxide is generally used as a laxative. 400mg is the lowest dose you should take according to most studies, and you don’t get near that with just taking the cognimag. I hope that helps clear it up a bit.

      Reply

      1. N S

        Do you think it’s OK if I’ve tried chelated magnesium and I think I even tried another type of Glycinate (and maybe even a third haha) that I wouldn’t need to try the brand you recommended? I’m just trying not to repeat my efforts if I don’t have to and I haven’t found the difference between all the different types of magnesium I take so I just make sure I get my 500mg a day (I don’t think I notice a difference between 400 to 500 but I do 500 as it seems a lot of studies recommend that and magnesium in general seems to give me a little boost ).

        Reply

        1. Alicia

          It just depends. Some brands are better than others. I recommend these because they don’t have fillers or gelatin which I’ve seen be an issue for some people. When you buy a less expensive brand that has a bunch of extra items on the ingredient list, you have to wonder how good the quality of their supplements are. If it’s filled with other stuff, you may not be absorbing it well so you’re just wasting money in the long run. If you have a brand you like that works well for you, I don’t think you need to try these instead at all! Just stick with what you’re doing. 400-500mg is definitely a good place to start. At one point my neuro had me up to 700mg a day. I don’t take as much now that I’m feeling better. 🙂

          I like taking CogniMag in addition to other magnesium types like chelated or glycinate for brain fog, but not as a replacement to get your 400-500mg of daily magnesium. Does that make sense? I think it’s worth it to add because it’s the only magnesium that’s been shown to cross the blood brain barrier, making it really great for neurological illnesses. Different types of magnesium are absorbed in different ways so it does make a difference which type you use.

          Reply

  8. Nick

    I took this one which doesn’t have gelatin and I feel like this is the least amount of fillers possible so hopefully this fits that criteria you mentioned 🙂 https://www.ebay.com/p/KAL-Magnesium-Glycinate-400-MG-180-Tablets-Vegan-Chelated-Non-gmo-Gluten-US/13016360569?iid=273104790237

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hi Nick,
      Silica is used as a bulking agent and some people find they have issues with magnesium stearate. But if you’re doing well with it, I’d probably stick with it. Metagenics contains the same ingredients and I had success with it at one point too. The only ingredients in PE are cellulose (the capsule) and ascorbyl palmitate, which is a source of vitamin c so it’s been the best supplement I’ve been able to find. Hope that explains it a little bit more!

      Reply

  9. Nick

    I mean I’m able to tolerate it but it doesn’t do much for me and especially doesn’t do anything for my migraines or dizziness but I’ve tried all the different types of magnesium and all the different ways to take it and it seems like there’s no difference between any of them and my neurologist says my magnesium levels are fine so she thinks it’s not worth just trying a bunch of different ones especially given the Magtein did nothing if that makes sense

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I see! It seems commonly prescribed because most Migraine sufferers do have low levels of magnesium. If you’ve tried them all and your levels are normal, that makes sense it’s not the answer for you. It may be worth it to look into other potentially beneficial supplements like CoQ10, Feverfew, B2, etc if you haven’t already.

      I also think there’s been some misunderstanding of the post with a few readers – CogniMag was NOT the miracle cure for our dizziness or Migraine, it just helped tremendously with my brain fog and memory recall. It was a great addition to my traditional supplements since I cannot tolerate coffee and had a hard time getting my brain to work in the morning.

      Reply

  10. N S

    Thanks! I have tried PE’s Glycinate that you linked to and Amazon has free returns so I’m going to try it as I’m finishing my aimovig in two weeks which hasn’t helped so might as well start the pe magnesium Glycinate when it arrives Sunday as I need some more magnesium anyway and can’t hurt to try it 🙂

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hopefully you’ll notice a difference with that one too. Sorry to hear about the aimovig – will you be trying the others after that? Most of what I’ve heard in my groups is that it’s great with another preventative. I was also curious if you had tried timolol malate ophthalmic solution yet? It’s what I’ve been taking as a preventative and I think it’s been really helpful with little to no side effects. I have some articles on it here. Good luck and keep me updated!!

      Reply

  11. N S

    Yea hopefully the pe Glycinate helps with the dizziness as other magnesiums havent. By another preventative, what do you mean? I’ve been taking b2 and lamictal forever which I think are both technically preventatives so I was taking those with aimovig and yeah I tried aimovig for six months and it didn’t do anything for me and now the plan I should to try botox as I’ve tried so many other prescription preventatives with no result. Never tried timolol but that seems mainly for eye pressure and I’ve never seen it on mvertigo or dizzy Facebook groups or dr hains site or any other lit (I feel like I’ve ready everything :). I’ve been cleared by multiple visual therapists (I use prisms which help) for eye problems and I’m now trying Syntonics. Feel like botox would be better to try first than timilol as I’m 99.9% I’ve tried more better researched migraine preventatives in the same family as timilol

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I mean that it seems more effective when people combine medication preventatives like botox/aimovig or topamax/aimovig vs aimovig by itself, but that’s just an observation from some of the reviews I read. I haven’t heard of it helping much for vestibular migraine in general so it’s interesting to hear your point of view.

      Timolol eye drops aren’t as well researched because there’s no money in generic drugs (all the focus is on antiCGRP right now), but the research out there is all positive. I’ll copy some links below you might find interesting. My neuro has had great success with it for VM at his research hospital but I think they’re a little more open to experimental treatments. After all, there’s really not a ton of information on VM in general. I liked it because of it’s low risk of side effects and I think it is one of the reasons I feel 100% most days. It also helped me a lot with light sensitivity. If you’ve already tried a beta blocker though, it sounds like botox will be a great fit for you.

      https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/timolol-eyedrops-effective-in-some-patients-with-acute-migraine-
      https://headaches.org/2016/07/01/use-beta-blocker-ophthalmic-solution-treatment-migraine/
      https://www.nature.com/articles/6701303

      Reply

  12. Nick

    Could you send those aimovig+another preventative reviews? From my understanding all the research is about aimovig on its own given I thought that was a requirement of the studies. I’ll ask my neurologist if we should do botox and aimovig at the same time

    Reply

  13. Mary C

    Hi Alicia,
    I’m updating my comment! I tried both Magtein and Cognimag. (NOTE: I don’t have VM, just regular migraine) I found more benefit from Magtein than Cognimag for brain fog. And I am planning to try Teraputics Mag Threonate next year (didn’t see it before I had ordered a fresh bottle of Magtein). Thank you for all the information you put together and share!!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hey Mary – are you saying there was a certain brand that worked better? Cognimag actually contains Magtein! I’d love to know so I can add to the list. Keep us updated on the Teraputics. 🙂

      Reply

  14. Julie

    Hi Alicia,

    Thanks for sharing your experience and all the information on this site. I love it.!

    I’m in Canada and is very hard to find CogniMag here or any vendor who will ship it to Canada, including Amazon. There is Pure Encapsulations L-Theanine available on Amazon.ca, please have a look and let me know of your thoughts.

    https://www.amazon.ca/Pure-Encapsulations-L-Theanine-Hypoallergenic-Supplement/dp/B01MA0F9N0/ref=sr_1_26?crid=1DWWJWXJDL8QQ&keywords=pure+encapsulations&qid=1568162476&s=gateway&sprefix=pure+%2Caps%2C181&sr=8-26

    Thanks
    Julie

    Reply

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