Research: VELHO and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 161

Abstract

VELHO and COLLEAGUES,  Instituto Portugues de Oncologia, Lisboa, Portugal researched the relationship between dietary intake and cognitive function in active, elderly people

Background

Adequate dietary intake might prevent cognitive decline among ageing subjects; the relationships between dietary intake and cognitive function in a sample of non-institutionalized active elderly were assessed.

Methodology

Dietary intake of a total 187 subjects aged over 65 was assessed using a three-day record and cognitive function, using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE). After 8.5+/-3.5 months of follow-up, cognitive function was re-assessed in 110 subjects.

Results

A considerable portion of the subjects presented a low intake of several key nutrients. At baseline, no differences were found between subjects with normal or low MMSE score regarding all dietary parameters. At follow-up, 63 subjects (57%) showed a mild improvement of their MMSE score; their consumption of calcium and of n-3 fatty acids was higher (p<0.01 and p<0.03, respectively) than subjects without improvement. Similarly, multivariate logistic regression showed subjects whose consumption of calcium was above the dietary reference intake had a significantly higher odds ratio (OR) of improving their MMSE (OR=5.41; 95% CI: 1.44-20.29), whereas no effect was found for n-3 fatty acids (OR=2.48; 95% CI: 0.46-13.36).

Conclusion

Increased calcium consumption is related to improved cognitive function; the exact effect of n-3 fatty acids intake remains to be assessed.

References

Velho S,  Marques-Vidal P,  Baptista F and  Camilo ME. Dietary intake adequacy and cognitive function in free-living active elderly: a cross-sectional and short-term prospective study. Clinical Nutrition 27(1): 77-86. Feb 2008.

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