Targeted nutritional intervention for patients with mild cognitive impairment: The cognitive impairment study (CARES) trial 1

Rebecca Power, John M. Nolan, Alfonso Prado-Cabrero, Robert Coen, Warren Roche, Tommy Power, Alan N. Howard, Ríona Mulcahy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Omega-3 fatty acids (ω-3FAs), carotenoids, and vitamin E are important constituents of a healthy diet. While they are present in brain tissue, studies have shown that these key nutrients are depleted in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in comparison to cognitively healthy individuals. Therefore, it is likely that these individuals will benefit from targeted nutritional intervention, given that poor nutrition is one of the many modifiable risk factors for MCI. Evidence to date suggests that these nutritional compounds can work independently to optimize the neurocognitive environment, primarily due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. To date, however, no interventional studies have examined the potential synergistic effects of a combination of ω-3FAs, carotenoids and vitamin E on the cognitive function of patients with MCI. Individuals with clinically confirmed MCI consumed an ω-3FA plus carotenoid plus vitamin E formulation or placebo for 12 months. Cognitive performance was determined from tasks that assessed global cognition and episodic memory. Ω-3FAs, carotenoids, and vitamin E were measured in blood. Carotenoid concentrations were also measured in tissue (skin and retina). Individuals consuming the active intervention (n = 6; median [IQR] age 73.5 [69.5–80.5] years; 50% female) exhibited statistically significant improvements (p < 0.05, for all) in tissue carotenoid concentrations, and carotenoid and ω-3FA concentrations in blood. Trends in improvements in episodic memory and global cognition were also observed in this group. In contrast, the placebo group (n = 7; median [IQR] 72 (69.5–75.5) years; 89% female) remained unchanged or worsened for all measurements (p > 0.05). Despite a small sample size, this exploratory study is the first of its kind to identify trends in improved cognitive performance in individuals with MCI following supplementation with ω-3FAs, carotenoids, and vitamin E.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Ageing
  • Antioxidant
  • Carotenoids
  • Cognition
  • Episodic memory
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Nutrition
  • Older adults
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin E


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