Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary supplement use in old age: associations with childhood IQ, current cognition and health

Whalley, L.J., Fox, H.C., Lemmon, H.A., Duthie, S.J., Collins, A.R., Peace, H., Starr, J.M., Deary, I.J. (2003) Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Sep; 18(9) 769-76. 

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Abstract:

AIMS: Dietary supplement (DS) use is actively promoted among old people but there is little evidence in favour of DS use or information about the demographic, health and cognitive characteristics of DS users.

METHOD: We examined 176 healthy, old people without dementia all born in 1921 and living independently in the community. IQ scores aged about 11 years were available for all subjects. DS users were more often female, had a lower BMI and were taking fewer prescribed medications than non-users.

RESULTS: Usual dietary intake, as measured by food frequency questionnaire, did not differ between DS users and DS non-users. DS users were seen to have higher Vitamin C (p<0 .05), alpha-carotene (p<0.05) and lower gamma-tocopherol (p<0.001) and homocysteine (p<0.01). DS users did not differ from DS non-users in years of education, indices of occupational code, current socio-economic category or parameters of cardiovascular or respiratory functions. DS users had higher (p<0.05) childhood IQ scores but did not differ in current Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score or performance on Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) either before or after adjustment for childhood IQ.

CONCLUSIONS: DS users may enjoy somewhat better general health than non-users but the source of this difference is unknown. Possible health benefits of DS use merit further study.

Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.