Topical Area: Aging and Chronic Disease, Nutrition Translation. Nutrient-Gene Interactions, Carotenoids and Retinoids (CARIG)
Objectives : The dietary carotenoid lutein accumulates in the brain, and lutein supplementation has been demonstrated to improve cognitive function in older adults. The purpose of the study was to examine the association between dietary lutein intake and cognitive function in a recent and representative sample of the older adult U.S. population. Additionally, we aimed to identify the major contributors to dietary lutein intake in older adults.
Methods : Observations were drawn from the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally-representative panel study of older U.S. adults, and the 2013 Health Care and Nutrition Study (HCNS), which assessed dietary intake via food frequency questionnaire in a subsample of HRS respondents. The analytic sample included 7,045 respondents age 50 and older. Cognitive function was evaluated on the cognitive domain of episodic verbal memory, assessed using immediate word recall (IWR) and delayed word recall (DWR). Quartiles of lutein intake were calculated then used to compare IWR and DWR scores in 2012. Descriptive statistics and bivariate comparisons were adjusted for the complex survey design of the HRS and HCNS with results representative of community-dwelling older Americans in 2013.
Results : The average age of the sample was 65.6 ± 10.3 years old. Leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, eggs, fruit and other vegetables were significant predictors of dietary lutein intake. Lutein intake was significantly different between quartiles (p< 0.001) with lutein intakes of 720±231 ug/day (Q1), 1468±229 ug/day (Q2), 2394±324 ug/day (Q3), and 5632±3029 ug/day (Q4). Quartiles 3 and 4 had significantly higher IWR and DWR scores than quartiles 1 and 2 (p< 0.001).
Conclusions : Older adults may benefit from higher lutein intake through consumption of various vegetables, fruits, and eggs, as lutein may specifically protect episodic memory. Further research is needed to identify the mechanism of lutein’s cognitive benefits.
Funding Sources : American Egg Board/Egg Nutrition Center