The global population is aging. Preserving function and independence of our aging population is paramount. A key component to maintaining independence is the preservation of cognitive function. Metabolomics can be used to identify biomarkers of cognition before noticeable deterioration. Our study investigated the plasma metabolome of 332 community-living New Zealanders between 65 and 74 years of age, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Six cognitive domains were assessed. Of the 123 metabolites identified using an in-house mass spectral libraries of standards, nervonic acid had a significant, inverse association with the attention domain (P-value = 1.52E− 4; FDR = 0.019), after adjusting for covariates (apolipoprotein E -ε4 genotype, sex, body fat percentage (standardised by sex), age, education, deprivation index, physical activity, metabolic syndrome, polypharmacy, smoking status, and alcohol intake) and multiple testing. Attention is defined as the ability to concentrate on selected aspects of the environment while ignoring other stimuli. This is the first study to identify nervonic acid as a potential biomarker of attention in older adults. Future research should confirm this association in a longitudinal study.