- © 2017 American Society for Nutrition
- Bo Qin1,
- Pengcheng Xun2,
- David R Jacobs Jr.3,
- Na Zhu3,
- Martha L Daviglus4,
- Jared P Reis5,
- Lyn M Steffen3,
- Linda Van Horn6,
- Stephen Sidney7, and
- Ka He2
1Department of Population Science, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ;
2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN;
3Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;
4Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL;
5Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD;
6Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; and
7Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, CA
- Address correspondence to KH (e-mail: ).
Background: Epidemiologic evidence regarding niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 intake in relation to cognitive function is
limited, especially in midlife.
Objective: We hypothesize that higher intake of these B vitamins in young adulthood is associated with better cognition later in life.
Design: This study comprised a community-based multicenter cohort of black and white men and women aged 18–30 y in 1985–1986 (year
0, i.e., baseline) from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study (n = 3136). We examined participants’ CARDIA diet history at years 0, 7, and 20 to assess nutrient intake, including dietary
and supplemental B vitamins. We measured cognitive function at year 25 (mean ± SD age: 50 ± 4 y) through the use of the Rey
Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) for verbal memory, the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST) for psychomotor speed,
and a modified Stroop interference test for executive function. Higher RAVLT and DSST scores and a lower Stroop score indicated
better cognitive function. We used multivariable-adjusted linear regressions to estimate mean differences in cognitive scores
and 95% CIs.
Results: Comparing the highest quintile with the lowest (quintile 5 compared with quintile 1), cumulative total intake of niacin was
significantly associated with 3.92 more digits on the DSST (95% CI: 2.28, 5.55; P-trend < 0.01) and 1.89 points lower interference score on the Stroop test (95% CI: −3.10, −0.68; P-trend = 0.05). Total folate was associated with 2.56 more digits on the DSST (95% CI: 0.82, 4.31; P-trend = 0.01). We also found that higher intakes of vitamin B-6 (quartile 5 compared with quartile 1: 2.62; 95% CI: 0.97,
4.28; P-trend = 0.02) and vitamin B-12 (quartile 5 compared with quartile 1: 2.08; 95% CI: 0.52, 3.65; P-trend = 0.02) resulted in better psychomotor speed measured by DSST scores.
Conclusion: Higher intake of B vitamins throughout young adulthood was associated with better cognitive function in midlife.
Abbreviations used: AD, Alzheimer disease; CARDIA, Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults; CES-D, Center for Epidemiologic
Studies Depression; DSST, Digit Symbol Substitution Test; RAVLT, Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test; RCT, randomized controlled
- Received March 28, 2017.
- Accepted July 10, 2017.