Introduction The influence of individual antioxidant vitamins on cognitive function in older adults remains uncertain. Randomised trials of dietary interventions have yielded mixed findings. We examined the relation between dietary carotenoids and vitamin C intake from fruit and vegetables and the cognitive function of a low-income population from Sao Paulo.
Methods Cross-sectional analyses of 1849 elderly ≥65 years old, free of dementia, at the baseline of the SPAH study. We estimated the usual intake of vitamin C, α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopen, luthein and zeoxanthin by means of a Willet-like FFQ. Cognition function was assessed using the Community Screening Instrument for Dementia (CSI-D) (scored as 0–30). Few cases with score =0 were excluded. The association between cognitive function and the intake of each antioxidant was investigated using multiple linear regression models.
Results After adjusting for age, gender, education, per capita income, physical activity, HDL-cholesterol, hypertension, stroke, smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI higher β-carotene intake was associated with higher cognitive function scores (β=0.2; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.3; p<0.001 for 1 mg of β-carotene); that is, those participants in the highest quartile of β-carotene intake (3.2–7.2 mg/d) had a mean increased of almost 1 point in their cognitive function scores compared to those in the lowest quartile (0–0.9 mg/d), (β=0.95; 95% CI 0.52 to 1.11; p<0.001). None of the others antioxidants were associated to cognitive function.
Conclusions Higher intakes of β-carotene were associated to better scores of cognitive function in a low-income Brazilian population.
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