Objective: We prospectively examined associations between intakes of antioxidants (vitamins C, vitamin E, and carotene) and cognitive function and decline among elderly men and women of the Cache County Study on Memory and Aging in Utah.
Participants and design: In 1995, 3831 residents 65 years of age or older completed a baseline survey that included a food frequency questionnaire and cognitive assessment. Cognitive function was assessed using an adapted version of the Modified Mini-Mental State examination (3MS) at baseline and at three subsequent follow-up interviews spanning approximately 7 years. Multivariable-mixed models were used to estimate antioxidant nutrient effects on average 3MS score over time.
Results: Increasing quartiles of vitamin C intake alone and combined with vitamin E were associated with higher baseline average 3MS scores (p-trend = 0.013 and 0.02 respectively); this association appeared stronger for food sources compared to supplement or food and supplement sources combined. Study participants with lower levels of intake of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotene had a greater acceleration of the rate of 3MS decline over time compared to those with higher levels of intake.
Conclusion: High antioxidant intake from food and supplement sources of vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotene may delay cognitive decline in the elderly.