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Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 279–292 | Cite as

Dietary Antioxidants, Cognitive Function and Dementia - A Systematic Review

  • Georgina E. Crichton
  • Janet Bryan
  • Karen J. MurphyEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Antioxidant compounds, contained in fruit, vegetables and tea, have been postulated to have a protective effect against age-related cognitive decline by combating oxidative stress. However, recent research on this subject has been conflicting. The aim of this systematic review was to consider current epidemiological and longitudinal evidence for an association between habitual dietary intake of antioxidants and cognition, with consideration given to both cognitive functioning and risk for dementia and its subtypes, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Searches of electronic databases were undertaken to identify peer-reviewed journal articles that reported on associations between antioxidant intakes (vitamins C, E, flavonoids, carotenoids) and cognitive function or risk for dementia. Eight cross-sectional and 13 longitudinal studies were identified and included in the review. There were mixed findings for the association between antioxidant intake, cognition and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Large heterogeneity in study design, differential control of confounders, insufficient measures of cognitive performance, and difficulties associated with dietary assessment may contribute to the inconsistent findings. Overall, findings do not consistently show habitual intakes of dietary antioxidants are associated with better cognitive performance or a reduced risk for dementia. Future intervention trials are warranted to elucidate the effects of a high intake of dietary antioxidants on cognitive functioning, and to explore effects within a whole dietary pattern.

Keywords

Dietary antioxidants Vitamin C Cognitive function Dementia Review 

Abbreviations

AD

Alzheimer’s disease

ARIC

Atherosclerosis risk in communities

BLSA

Baltimore longitudinal study of aging

BMI

Body mass index

CAMDEX

Cambridge examination of mental disorders in the elderly

CHAP

Chicago health and aging project

CHS

Cardiovascular health study

CLUE

Campaign against cancer and heart disease

DSMIII-R

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, third edition revised

DSST

Digit-symbol substitution test

FFQ

Food frequency questionnaire

FUD

Follow-up duration

GMS

Geriatric mental state schedule

HRT

Hormone replacement therapy

MMSE

Mini-mental state examination

MMSE-K

Mini-mental state examination for Koreans

NA

Not applicable

PAQUID

Personnes agees quid

PMSQ

Pfeiffer’s mental status questionnaire

VaD

Vascular dementia

RDA

Recommended daily allowance

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

SITE

Western Sydney stroke in the elderly

WAIS

Wechsler adult intelligence scale

WFR

Weighed food record

WHICAP

Washington heights-inwood Columbia aging project

WMS

Wechsler memory scale

Notes

Acknowledgments

KJ Murphy is an NHMRC Industry Research Fellow (399396).

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Funding

University of South Australia Division of Health Sciences post-submission scholarship

Supplementary material

11130_2013_370_MOESM1_ESM.doc (97 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 97 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgina E. Crichton
    • 1
  • Janet Bryan
    • 2
  • Karen J. Murphy
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Nutritional Physiology Research CentreUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Social Work and Social PolicyUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Nutritional Physiology Research CentreUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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