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Vitamin B2 & Cognitive Health

iStock-511052342Results of a cross-sectional study were recently published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, detailing the association between vitamin B2 (riboflavin) intake and cognitive function in an older population. Datasets from two cycles of NHANES (between 2011 and 2014) from more than two thousand adults over age 60 who had undergone cognitive function testing and also completed two 24-hour dietary recalls (used to assess dietary and supplemental vitamin B2 intake) were used for this analysis. Cognitive function tests included the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD), Animal Fluency Test (AFT), and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), used to assess the ability to learn new information, executive function, processing speed, working memory, etc.

This study suggests that higher intakes of riboflavin are associated with better cognitive performance in this population, possibly to a substantial degree. Compared to the lowest quartile of intake (1.29 mg/day), people in the 4th quartile (5.26 mg/day) had an astonishing 45.1-fold increase in their DSST test scores (associated with processing speed, sustained attention, and working memory). The estimated mean intake of vitamin B2 across all quartiles was 2.54 mg/d, well above the RDA of 1.1 and 1.3 mg/day for women and men 50 and older, respectively. Participants in the 3rd quartile also had over a 7-fold increase in DSST scores compared to those in the lowest quartile, suggesting intakes well above the RDA may have significant cognitive benefit. Although there are limitations to this study, particularly the use of 24-hour dietary recalls, the authors provide links to multiple studies published previously that support this association as well as multiple potential mechanisms of action, such as improved mitochondrial function.

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