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Dietary Protein and Amino Acid Intake: Links to the Maintenance of Cognitive Health


Dietary Protein and Amino Acid Intake: Links to the Maintenance of Cognitive Health

Jordan M Glenn et al. Nutrients.


With the rapid growth in the aging population, there has been a subsequent increase in the rates of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). To combat these increases in ADRD, scientists and clinicians have begun to place an increased emphasis on preventative methods to ameliorate disease rates, with a primary focus area on dietary intake. Protein/amino acid intake is a burgeoning area of research as it relates to the prevention of ADRD, and consumption is directly related to a number of disease-related risk factors as such low-muscle mass, sleep, stress, depression, and anxiety. As a result, the role that protein/amino acid intake plays in affecting modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline has provided a robust area for scientific exploration; however, this research is still speculative and specific mechanisms have to be proven. The purpose of this review is to describe the current understanding of protein and amino acids and the preventative roles they play with regard to ADRD, while providing future recommendations for this body of research. Additionally, we will discuss the current recommendations for protein intake and how much protein older adults should consume in order to properly manage their long-term risk for cognitive decline.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; amino acid; cognition; cognitive decline; dementia; protein; risk factors.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Supported paths to ameliorate or increase risk of cognitive decline through lifestyle-based activities.
Figure 2
Figure 2
The proposed model in which protein and its constituent amino acids may play a role in mitigating risk for future cognitive decline. The current state of the science suggests a strong potential for these nutritional interventions to achieve positive benefits; however, the causal mechanisms are still a ‘black box,’ requiring future investigation.

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