Influence of nutrition on cognitive function in
a group of elderly, independently living people

Requejo AM, Ortega RM, Robles F,
Navia B, Faci M, Aparicio A.
Departamento de Nutricion,
Facultad de Farmacia,
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;57 Suppl 1:S54-7


OBJECTIVE: To study the differences in cognitive status with respect to food habits and energy and nutrient intake in a group of non institutionalised, elderly people. DESIGN: Prospective study. SETTING: The study subjects were independently living, elderly people who spent some of their time at day centres in the Comunidad de Madrid (the Madrid region). The study centres were selected by the Madrid City Hall. SUBJECTS: The study included 168 elderly people aged 65-90 y. All accepted the invitation to participate, met all inclusion criteria, and were free of significant cognitive impairment. INTERVENTIONS: Dietary intake was monitored using a 'food record' for 7 consecutive days including a Sunday. In addition, the 'precise individual weighing' method was used for 5 days in order to monitor the meals taken by the subjects at the centres' canteens. Cognitive capacity was measured using Folstein's mini-mental state examination (MMSE), validated for the Spanish population. RESULTS: Subjects with an adequate cognitive capacity (MMSE>/=28) showed a greater intake of total foods, fish, and alcoholic drinks, but took less foods from the 'various' group (chocolates, cakes, etc). These subjects had a more adequate intake of fatty acids and cholesterol, and a greater intake of vitamins implicated in correct brain function (thiamine, folic acid, vitamin C). CONCLUSIONS: Subjects with satisfactory intellectual function generally had a better diet. This shows the importance of correct nutrition in its maintenance.

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