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Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;27(1):77-86. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Dietary intake adequacy and cognitive function in free-living active elderly: a cross-sectional and short-term prospective study.

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  • 1Instituto Portugu√™s de Oncologia, Lisboa, Portugal.



Adequate dietary intake might prevent cognitive decline among ageing subjects; hence, the relationships between dietary intake and cognitive function in a sample of non-institutionalized active elderly were assessed.


Total 187 subjects aged over 65. Dietary intake was assessed using a three-day record and cognitive function using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE). After 8.5+/-3.5 months of follow-up, cognitive function was re-assessed in 110 subjects.


A considerable portion of the subjects presented a low intake of several key nutrients. At baseline, no differences were found between subjects with normal or low MMSE score regarding all dietary parameters. At follow-up, 63 subjects (57%) showed a mild improvement of their MMSE score; their consumption of calcium and of n-3 fatty acids was higher (p<0.01 and p<0.03, respectively) than subjects without improvement. Similarly, multivariate logistic regression showed subjects whose consumption of calcium was above the dietary reference intake had a significantly higher odds ratio (OR) of improving their MMSE (OR=5.41; 95% CI: 1.44-20.29), whereas no effect was found for n-3 fatty acids (OR=2.48; 95% CI: 0.46-13.36).


Increased calcium consumption is related to improved cognitive function; the exact effect of n-3 fatty acids intake remains to be assessed.

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