Long-Term Intake of Dietary Carotenoids Is Positively Associated with Late-Life Subjective Cognitive Function in a Prospective Study in US Women

Changzheng Yuan*, Elinor Fondell, Alberto Ascherio, Olivia I. Okereke, Francine Grodstein, Albert Hofman, Walter C. Willett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A protective association of dietary carotenoids with cognitive function has been suggested, but most studies have been relatively small with limited periods of follow-up. Objectives: We examined prospectively long-term intakes of carotenoids in relation to subjective cognitive function (SCF), a self-reported, validated indicator of cognitive dysfunction. Methods: Among 49,493 female registered nurses with a mean age of 48 y in 1984, we used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the ORs and 95% CIs relating intakes of carotenoids to self-reported SCF in 2012 and 2014. Mean intakes of carotenoids were calculated from 7 repeated FFQs collected in 1984, 1986, and every 4 y afterwards until 2006. Self-reported SCF was assessed by a 7-item questionnaire on changes in memory and cognition; validity was supported by strong associations with Apolipoprotein E (APOE) ϵ4 genotype and concurrent cognitive function and cognitive decline measured by telephone-based neuropsychological tests. The mean values of scores assessed in 2012 and 2014 were categorized as "good"(0 points, 40.8%), "moderate"(0.5-2.5 points, 46.9%), and "poor"(3-7 points, 12.3%). Results: Higher intake of total carotenoids was associated with substantially lower odds of moderate or poor cognitive function after controlling for other dietary and nondietary risk factors and total energy intake. Comparing the top with the bottom quintile of total carotenoids, the multivariable ORs were 0.86 (95% CI: 0.80, 0.93; P-trend < 0.001) for moderate SCF and 0.67 (95% CI: 0.60, 0.75; P-trend < 0.001) for poor SCF. This lower OR was also seen for carotenoids consumed 28 y before SCF assessment. Similar associations were found for total β-carotene, dietary β-carotene, α-carotene, lycopene, lutein + zeaxanthin, and β-cryptoxanthin. The significant associations for β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein + zeaxanthin persisted after mutual adjustment for each other. Conclusions: Our findings support a long-term beneficial role of carotenoid consumption on cognitive function in women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1879
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIH grant UM1 CA186107 and a gift from the VoLo Foundation (to WCW). Author disclosures: The authors report no conflicts of interest. The funding agencies had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, the decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Supplemental Figure 1 and Supplemental Tables 1–5 are available from the “Supplementary data” link in the online posting of the article and from the same link in the online table of contents at https://academic.oup.com/jn. Address correspondence to CY (e-mail: chy478@zju.edu.cn). Abbreviations used: APOE, Apolipoprotein E; CI, confidence interval; CVD, cardiovascular disease; METs, metabolic equivalent of tasks; NHS, Nurses’ Health Study; OR, odds ratio; SCF, subjective cognitive function; SFFQ, semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s) on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition 2020.


Dive into the research topics of 'Long-Term Intake of Dietary Carotenoids Is Positively Associated with Late-Life Subjective Cognitive Function in a Prospective Study in US Women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this