Open Access Research

Micronutrients supplementation and nutritional status in cognitively impaired elderly persons: a two-month open label pilot study

Christine AF von Arnim1*, Stephanie Dismar2, Cornelia S Ott-Renzer2, Nathalie Noeth1, Albert C Ludolph1 and Hans K Biesalski2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Ulm University, Oberer Eselsberg 45, 89081 Ulm, Germany

2 Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, Hohenheim University, Garbenstr. 30, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:148  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-148

Published: 15 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Malnutrition is a widespread problem in elderly people and is associated with cognitive decline. However, interventional studies have produced ambiguous results. For this reason, we wanted to determine the effect of micronutrient supplementation on blood and tissue levels and on general nutritional status in persons with mild or moderate cognitive impairment.

Methods

We performed a 2-month, open-label trial, administering a daily micronutrient supplement to 42 memory clinic patients with mild cognitive deficits. Blood levels of antioxidants, zinc, and B vitamins were determined before and after supplementation. In addition, we assessed metabolic markers for B vitamins and intracellular (buccal mucosa cell [BMC]) antioxidant levels. Nutritional status was assessed by using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA).

Results

Blood levels of B vitamins, folic acid, lutein, β-carotene, α-carotene, and α-tocopherol increased significantly. Decreases in homocysteine levels and the thiamine pyrophosphate effect and an increase in holotranscobalamin were observed. We found no increase in intracellular antioxidant levels of BMC. The MNA score in subjects at risk for malnutrition increased significantly, mainly owing to better perception of nutritional and overall health status.

Conclusions

Micronutrient supplementation improved serum micronutrient status, with improved metabolic markers for B vitamins but not for intracellular antioxidant status, and was associated with improved self-perception of general health status. Our data underline the necessity of determining micronutrient status and support the use of additional assessments for general health and quality of life in nutritional supplementation trials.

Keywords:
B vitamins; Intracellular antioxidative status; Mini nutritional assessment; Micronutrient supplement