Cognitive dysfunction and depression are significant problems of ageing with major health and socio-economic impacts; therefore, preventing or delaying the onset of these disorders should be a public health priority. In particular, there is a need to identify modifiable factors that could be targeted to promote better brain health in ageing.
Epidemiological studies indicate a protective role for certain dietary patterns, in particular the Mediterranean diet, and for specific nutrients, including n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols and B vitamins. Although, the evidence to date from randomised controlled trials is generally inconsistent, there is clearer evidence to support a role for folate and related B vitamins in slowing the progression of cognitive decline and possibly reducing the risk of depression in ageing.
Future studies incorporating new technologies offer much promise for the development of effective nutrition strategies that could reduce the risk of cognitive and mental disorders and improve quality of life in our ageing population.
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