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Back to Symposium 2008

Nutrition and Cognitive Function

Guylaine Ferland, PhD

Professor, Department of Nutrition, University of Montreal

Cognitive abilities are at the core of an individual’s independence and quality of life at all stages of life. While components of cognitive health have been shown to decline during normal aging, lifestyle factors, especially nutrition, are increasingly being confirmed as powerful modulators of this decline.

Nutrition plays a central role in the optimum functioning of the brain by providing it with required substrates to maintain cellular integrity, support neurotransmitter metabolism and meet its energy needs.

Recent research suggests that poor dietary practices, typical of North American consumption patterns, are associated with poor cognitive function. The group of nutrients reported to be most closely linked to cognition in the elderly are fats (total and subtypes), the B vitamins and their metabolites (e.g., homocysteine), and antioxidants. However, ongoing research suggests that vitamins K and D could also contribute to cognitive health as we age.

Drawing on epidemiological and clinical studies, this presentation reviewed the most recent research relating food and nutrient patterns to the risk of age-associated cognitive decline.


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