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Brain power supplements: comparison of self-reported use by vegetarian and non-vegetarian adolescents in the 2005 Teen Nutrition and Cognitive Function Study

Robyn Pearce1, Ross Grant2, Cedric Greive1, Peter Morey1

1 Avondale College, Cooranbong, NSW 2265 Australia

2 Australasian Research Institute, Wahroonga, NSW 2076 Australia

A number of nutrients and herbs may be linked to cognitive function. We compared regular use (at least once a week) of some nutrients and herbs promoted by health food stores to enhance cognitive function for 49 vegetarians and 125 non-vegetarians as part of the 2005 Teen Nutrition and Cognitive Function study1. Participants were recruited from the Teen Physical Activity and Nutrition study conducted with year 9 and 10 students from five NSW independent schools. Students completed a questionnaire self-reporting supplement use (response rate 80.6%). The questionnaire included some nutrients and herbs identified as improving cognitive function in health food store promotional material. Vegetarians were defined as usually eating meat, chicken and fish less than once a week using questionnaire data available from the Teen Physical Activity and Nutrition study. Neither vegetarians nor non-vegetarians reported regular use of a folate supplement, combined B12 and folate supplement, lecithin or Brahmi. None of the vegetarians and few non-vegetarians reported regularly using fish oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, or supplements (or drinks) containing guarana or ginkgo biloba. Few vegetarians or non-vegetarians regularly used ginseng. A significantly higher percentage of vegetarians than non-vegetarians reported regularly using vitamin B12 supplements (8.2% and 0.8% respectively, P=0.023 Fisher's exact test). Except for vitamin B12, there were no significant differences between the vegetarians and non-vegetarians in regular use of selected nutrients and herbs promoted by health food shops to increase brain function.


1. Pearce R, Grant R, Greive C, Hokin B, Morey P. Vegetarian eating and adolescent cognitive function: preliminary results from a study in selected NSW independent schools. 2006 Nutr. Dietetics 63(suppl 1), A46

Funding source: Avondale College Foundation