Tryptophan and nutritional status of patients with senile dementia

Psychol Med. 1986 May;16(2):297-305. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700009119.


The nutritional status of 23 severely demented patients was compared with that of 23 similarly aged controls in the community. A 3-day weighed intake on all subjects showed lower mean intakes of energy, protein, ascorbic acid and nicotinic acid in the mean intakes of energy, protein, ascorbic acid and nicotinic acid in the patient group. This group had lower levels of plasma ascorbic acid and red cell folate and of urinary N-methylnicotinamide excretion relative to creatinine. Over a third of both controls and patients had evidence of thiamin deficiency, as judged by a raised percentage erythrocyte transketolase activity. An earlier finding in patients with senile dementia of reduced fasting plasma concentrations of tryptophan was confirmed for total and protein bound fractions. With the possible exception of ascorbic acid, the data could not be explained satisfactorily in terms of intake. It is suggested that the association between the phenomena of aging, senile dementia and nutritional status merits further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid Deficiency / complications
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Deficiency Diseases / blood
  • Deficiency Diseases / complications*
  • Dementia / blood*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Protein Binding
  • Serotonin / deficiency
  • Tryptophan / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan