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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/223101
- Neurocognition and micronutrients in the elderly
- Macpherson, Helen
- The concept of healthy cognitive aging is gaining importance as rapid population aging is taking place in the Western world. As a greater percentage of the population moves toward old age, their medical and primary care needs will be exacerbated, resulting in increased financial pressure on the health-care system. Furthermore, an aging population will result in an increased prevalence of age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia. In 2005, it was estimated that 24 million people worldwide were living with dementia, and it is predicted that this quantity will double every 20 years to reach 81 million by the year 2040. Age constitutes the major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD), and it is estimated that in developed countries such as the United States, approximately 13% of individuals over the age of 65 and 48% of persons over the age of 85 are affected by this disease. The cost of caring for those with dementia constitutes a significant financial burden on tax payers and emotional burden on family members. With longer life expectancy anticipated, there are many benefits to maintaining both physical and cognitive well-being, including enhanced quality of life and a lower risk of dementia onset. Cognitive deterioration occurs across the life span and is a feature not only of AD, but also the normal aging process. In many cases the experience of cognitive decline may be a precursor to the development of AD. Consequently, to delay the onset or rate of dementia, it may be necessary to target interventions to individuals prior to the appearance of cognitive decline. Currently there is a scientific interest in the potential of health and lifestyle interventions to improve cognitive function or slow the rate of decline in the elderly. There is evidence from randomized controlled trials to indicate that aerobic exercise programs, mental training, and dietary supplements consisting of omega-3 fatty acids, herbal preparations, or vitamins may be capable of improving cognitive function and potentially serve as interventions against cognitive decline. Observations from prospective and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that maintaining adequate vitamin and nutritional status may be particularly important for cognitive function in the elderly. For instance, vitamin depletion has been shown to precede cognitive decline, and both intake of specific nutrients and circulating levels of vitamins in the blood have been correlated with cognitive function in healthy elderly. Vitamins and micronutrients are chemicals in the diet that do not belong to the major categories of fats, proteins, or carbohydrates and cannot be synthesized by the body in large enough quantities for normal requirements. Vitamins and mineral micronutrients must be introduced through food intake and this can become a problem for the elderly who are vulnerable to vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to decreased appetite caused by lower energy needs and reduced absorption in the gut. To date research in this area has focused on several important questions. First, can dietary interventions using micronutrients slow the rate of cognitive decline in those with dementia, and do they possess the potential to prevent the onset of dementia? Second, and of greater relevance to this chapter, can nutritional interventions with selected micronutrients improve cognitive performance or slow the rate of cognitive decline in healthy elderly? This chapter will address the latter question, with a focus on relationships between micronutrients and neurocognition in elderly humans. Predominantly, our discussion will center on recent studies that have investigated the association between cognition in healthy elderly and specific B group vitamins, antioxidant vitamins, and multivitamins.
- Publication type
- Book chapter
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Life and Social Sciences. Centre for Human Psychopharmacology
- Advances in natural medicines, nutraceuticals and neurocognition / Andrew Scholey and Con Stough (eds.), Chapter 4, pp. 43-70
- Publication year
- Elderly; Micronutrients; Neurocognition; Older people
- CRC Press
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2013 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
- Peer reviewed