Sodium intake and physical activity impact cognitive maintenance in older adults: the NuAge Study

Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Apr;33(4):829.e21-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.07.004. Epub 2011 Aug 19.


This study examines the association between sodium intake and its interaction with physical activity on cognitive function over 3 years in older adults residing in Québec, Canada. We analyzed a subgroup from the NuAge cohort (aged 67-84 years) with nutrient intake data, including sodium, from a food frequency questionnaire administered at baseline. Baseline physical activity was assessed using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE; high-low). Modified Mini Mental State Examination (3MS) was administered at baseline and annually for 3 additional years. Controlling for age, sex, education, waist circumference, diabetes, and dietary intakes, analyses showed an association between sodium intake and cognitive change over time in the low PASE group only. Specifically, in the low PASE group, elders in the low sodium intake tertile displayed better cognitive performance over time (mean decline in 3MS over years: mean [M] = -0.57, standard error [SE] = 0.002) compared with the highest (M = -1.72, SE = 0.01) and mid sodium intake (M = -2.07, SE = 0.01) groups. This finding may have significant public health implications, emphasizing the importance of addressing multiple lifestyle factors rather than a single domain effect on brain health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Canada
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sodium / adverse effects*
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Sodium