Dietary choline intake linked to lower risk of dementia

According to a new study, researchers found a link between dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine and a reduced risk of dementia. The results appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In the study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, meat and eggs were the primary dietary sources of phosphatidylcholine, which has been associated with increased cognitive performance in earlier studies. Choline, a nutrient vital in the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, has been associated with cognitive processing, and increased intake of this nutrient could play a factor in the inhibition of cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease.

As part of the study, researchers examined the dietary patterns of 2,500 Finnish male participants aged 42 to 60 from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD. “We investigated the associations of dietary choline intake with the risk of incident dementia and with cognitive performance in middle-aged and older men in the prospective, population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study,” said Maija Ylilauri, co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Eastern Finland.

In all participants, the data was cross-examined with the hospital records during a follow-up period of 22 years. Four years after the start of the study, 500 of the participants had undergone tests to measure their cognitive performance. After a follow-up of the tests, the results showed 337 of them went on to receive a diagnosis for dementia.

The results also found among the participants with a greater intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine, they were at a lower risk of dementia: 28 percent, compared to the participants with lower intake. The group with the highest intake also demonstrated better scores in memory and linguistic tests.

“Both total choline and phosphatidylcholine intakes were associated with better performance in cognitive tests assessing frontal and temporal lobe functioning,” Ylilauri stated.  “Higher phosphatidylcholine intake was associated with a lower risk of incident dementia and better cognitive performance in men in eastern Finland.”

“However, this is just one observational study, and we need further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.”