Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Alan Salmoni


Dietary intake is one of the modifiable factors that may affect older adults’ cognitive function in their later years. Very little research has considered the potential role of dairy products on cognitive function. The aim of the present study was twofold: first, to investigate whether there is a difference in cognitive performance between older adults who consumed the recommended amount of dairy products (3 servings per day) and individuals who consumed less than the recommended amount (1 or 2 servings per day); second, to examine whether there is an association between the nutrients contained in the dairy products and cognitive performance. To do this, a cross-sectional study was undertaken. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), Rey Complex Figure Test and Recognition Trial (RCFT), Trail-Making Test, Victoria Stroop Test (VST) and the Digit Span Test (forward and backward) were used to assess cognitive function. Dietary intake of food group consumption was also assessed via estimated 5-day food intake records and analyzed for saturated fat, vitamin D, calcium and other macronutrients and micronutrients. In the 32 participants (8 males and 24 females) who completed the study (average age= 70.59± 7.07 years; BMI=27.59±4.45 kg/m^2), no differences were found between the group who consumedHowever, a number of associations were found between the nutrients (vitamin D, saturated fat, calcium) found in dairy products and cognitive performance. A positive correlation was found between the level of vitamin D and the RCFT, Digit Span test backward version, and the MoCA. Also, a negative correlation was found between the level of saturated fat and performance on the RCFT. However, no association was found between calcium level and performance on any of the cognitive tests. In conclusion, dairy products intake is associated with better cognitive performance but underlying mechanisms are still to be determined.