Finland—Dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine is associated with enhanced cognitive performance and reduced risk of dementia, according to anew studyfrom researchers at the University of Eastern Finland.

Choline is an essential nutrient vital for the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It has been linked in the past with cognitive processing, and is now used in a multinutrient medical drink intended to help treat early Alzheimer’s, according to apress release.

The current study found that the risk of dementia was 28% lower in men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine, when compared to men with the lowest intake. Men with the highest intake also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities.

The data for the study were derived from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, or KIHD. Researchers analyzed around 2,500 Finnish men between the ages of 42 and 60 for dietary habits, lifestyle, and general health. After an average follow-up period of 22 years, these data were combined with the participants’ hospital records, cause of death records, and medication reimbursement records. During the follow-up, 337 men developed dementia.

Key sources of phosphatidylcholine were eggs (39%) and meat (37%).

The analyses accounted for other lifestyle and nutrition-related factors. The APOE4 gene, which predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease, was accounted for.

Maija Ylilauri, a Ph.D. student at the University, pointed out in the press release that “This is just one observational study, and we need further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.”