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 6 SD age: 50 6 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: 23.10, 20.68; 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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (HHSN268201300025C and HHSN268201300026C), Northwestern University (HHSN268201300027C), University of Minnesota (HHSN268201300028C), Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (HHSN268201300029C), and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (HHSN268200900041C). CARDIA is also partially supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an intra-agency agreement between NIA and NHLBI (grant AG0005).
- Cognitive function
- Middle age
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin B-6