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Nutrition Stop

C and E May Give Older Women a Mental Edge

Older women who take vitamin C and E supplements have higher cognitive function, according to a new study by Francine Grodstein, Sc.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston.  As part of the Nurse's Health Study, Grodstein and colleagues studied 14,968 women between the ages of 70 and 79.  Every two years since 1980, the women filled out questionnaires detailing supplement use and diet.  To determine their cognitive function, nurses conducted comprehensive telephone interviews from 1995 to 2000 that included parts of the Mini-Mental State Examination, as well as memory and verbal fluency test.  Nurses assigned a global score by combining test results.  It turned out current vitamin E supplement users had a higher global score, equivalent to being a year younger in age, than those who weren't taking supplements.  The women who had taken vitamin C and E supplements for more than 10 years scored an average of 1.5 years younger in cognitive function than those not taking vitamins.  The results were even more marked for those with low dietary vitamin E intake:  Women with the lowest 30 percent of dietary vitamin E intake who did not take supplements tested two years older in mental function than women who compensated for low dietary intake with antioxidant supplements.