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Specific Nutrients Linked With Improved Cognitive Function Later in Life

A recent study suggests that high blood levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, carotenoids, lycopene, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin D may be associated with better cognitive performance later in life.


Participants in the study included 116 healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 75. The researchers examined the participants’ blood for nutrient biomarkers and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess how efficiently various brain networks performed. Participants also completed several cognitive tests.


The researchers found that omega-6 fatty acids, lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamin D, and vitamin B were associated with enhanced cognitive performance. They also found that omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and carotene were associated with enhanced functional brain network efficiency.


The researchers also found that omega-3 PUFAs moderated the fronto-parietal network and general intelligence, while omega-6 PUFAs and lycopene moderated the dorsal attention network and executive function.


Researchers from the University of Illinois led the study. It was published in the March 2019 issue of NeuroImage.


For this study, researchers examined 32 nutrients found in the Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by high amounts of vegetables, legumes, cereals, fish, fruits and nuts, healthy mono-saturated fats such as olive oil, low amounts of saturated fats, moderate alcohol intake, and low intake of meat and dairy products.

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