Nutrient effects on working memory across the adult lifespan
Objective: To identify the nutrients that influence the performance of working memory, which is greatly affected as age progresses.
Method: A total of 1646 healthy adults between 21 and 80 years old participated in the study. The daily consumption of 64 nutrients was examined using a food frequency questionnaire that assessed food intake during the previous year. Working memory was measured in the verbal and spatial domains using a computerized task. We examined which nutrients influence working memory across the entire adult lifespan and whether the influence of any of these nutrients on working memory is moderated by individuals' ages.
Results: Working memory, across the entire adult lifespan, benefits from the intake of cholesterol, alcohol, gamma- and delta-tocopherol, vitamin B6, and palmitoleic, oleic, alpha linoleic and linoleic acids. Moderator analyses revealed that fats, energy, lactose and sodium negatively influenced working memory in middle-aged and older adults, whereas vitamin D and vitamin C had positive effects on memory beyond 70 years of age.
Conclusion: Nutrients have the ability to positively or negatively affect working memory, which varies as a function of age.