Dietary antioxidants can inhibit reactions accompanying neurodegeneration and thus prevent cognitive impairment. We describe associations of dietary antioxidants with cognitive function in a large biracial population, while testing moderation by sex, race, and age and mediation by depressive symptoms.Methods
This was a cross-sectional analysis of 1274 adults (541 men and 733 women) aged 30 to 64 years at baseline (mean [standard deviation] = 47.5 [9.3]) in the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Across the Lifespan Study, Baltimore city, MD. Cognitive performance in the domains of memory, language/verbal, attention, spatial, psychomotor speed, executive function, and global mental status were assessed. The 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptoms. Dietary intake was assessed with two 24-hour recalls, estimating daily consumption of total carotenoids and vitamins A, C, and E per 1000 kcal.Results
Among key findings, 1 standard deviation (∼2.02 mg/1000 kcal) higher vitamin E was associated with a higher score on verbal memory, immediate recall (β = +0.64 [0.19], p = .001), and better language/verbal fluency performance (β = +0.53 [0.16], p = .001), particularly among the younger age group. Women with higher vitamin E intake (β = +0.68 [0.21], p = .001) had better performance on a psychomotor speed test. The vitamin E–verbal memory association was partially mediated by depressive symptoms (proportion mediated = 13%–16%).Conclusions
In sum, future cohort studies and dietary interventions should focus on associations of dietary vitamin E with cognitive decline, specifically for domains of verbal memory, verbal fluency, and psychomotor speed.