Iron-related dietary pattern increases the risk of poor cognition

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nutrition Journal, 2019, 18 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 The Author(s). Introduction: High iron intake has been shown to be associated with poor cognition. We aimed to examine the association between iron-related dietary pattern (IDP) and cognitive function in Chinese adults. Method: Longitudinal study data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) during 1991-2006 were used (N = 4852, ≥55 years old). Dietary intake was obtained from a 3-day food record during home visits. Reduced rank regression was used to construct IDP with iron intake as a response variable. Cognitive function was assessed in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006. Multivariable mixed linear regression and logistic regression were used in the analyses. Results: IDP was characterised by high intake of fresh vegetable, wheat, legume, beverage, offal, rice and whole grain. High IDP intake was associated with poor cognition. In fully adjusted models, across the quartiles of IDP, the odds ratio (95% CI) for poor cognitive function were: 1.00, 1.06 (0.86-1.30), 1.24 (0.99-1.54), and 1.50 (1.17-1.93), respectively. There was a borderline significant interaction between IDP and meat intake (p interaction 0.085). The association between high IDP and poor cognition was only observed among those with no or low intake of meat. With the adjustment of carbohydrate or iron intake, the IDP and cognition association became non-significant. IDP was positively associated with lead intake. The association between IDP and poor cognition was partly mediated by lead intake. Conclusions: Iron-related dietary pattern is associated with poor cognition in Chinese adults, partly due to high intake of carbohydrate, iron and lead.
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