In a new study from the University of Kentucky, researchers found that a higher intake of specific nutrients is linked to lower brain iron concentration and better cognitive performance in older adults.
They found older people with high dietary intake of nutrients commonly found in nuts, soybeans, olive oils, and fish (such as vitamin E, lysine, DHA omega-3 and LA omega-6 PUFA) tended to have lower brain iron and better working memory performance than expected for their age.
The findings highlight the important balance of non-heme iron for optimal neuronal function.
Excess non-heme brain iron has been linked to neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
High levels of brain iron can also be seen in normal aging, where they have been linked to poor cognitive performance.
A key question is whether age-related increases in brain iron and related cognitive declines can be slowed by environmental factors, such as healthy dietary intake.
In the study, the team evaluated the link between nutritional intake, brain iron and cognitive performance in a group of healthy, older adults between 61 and 86 years old.
They found that increasing age was linked to higher levels of brain iron concentration and poorer working memory performance.
However, those older adults with a high intake of nuts, soybeans, olive oils, and fish (such as vitamin E, lysine, DHA omega-3 and LA omega-6 PUFA) tended to have lower brain iron and better working memory performance than expected for their age.
The results suggest that these nutrients may offer protection against brain iron accumulation and cognitive decline in older adults.
The findings provide motivation for follow-up clinical trials to assess whether specific nutrition can slow brain iron accumulation in older adults.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about this nutrient may lower early death risk in older women and findings of plant-based diets can harm your bone health without these two nutrients.
For more information about food and your health, please see recent studies about this nutrient in your diet may protect against high blood pressure and results showing that eating this food every week could prevent recurrent heart disease.
The study is published in the Neurobiology of Aging. One author of the study is Valentinos Zachariou, Ph.D.
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