Daily Multivitamin Improves Memory and Slows Cognitive Aging

Taking a daily multivitamin supplement can improve memory and slow cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new study.

A new clinical trial and meta-analysis of 5,000 participants found that taking a daily multivitamin benefits memory and global cognition in older adults, a promising development for the United States’ rapidly aging population.

The findings come from the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) — a large-scale, nationwide, randomized trial conducted by researchers at Mass General Brigham testing cocoa extract and multivitamin supplements. It’s the third of its kind to validate the benefits of a daily multivitamin.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly one in four Americans will face an elevated risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease due to age by 2060. As a result, scientists are in search of interventions to help preserve cognitive function.

“Cognitive decline is among the top health concerns for most older adults, and a daily supplement of multivitamins has the potential as an appealing and accessible approach to slow cognitive aging,” said lead author Chirag Vyas, MBBS, MPH, an instructor in investigation at the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in a news release.

“The meta-analysis of three separate cognition studies provides strong and consistent evidence that taking a daily multivitamin, containing more than 20 essential micronutrients, helps prevent memory loss and slow down cognitive aging.”

The researchers conducted in-person assessments of 573 participants who completed a series of cognitive tests. They observed modest improvement in global cognition compared with a placebo over a two-year period and a significantly positive change in episodic memory.

They then conducted a meta-analysis of their three studies on the subject, and results showed clear evidence of the benefits of multivitamins on global cognition and episodic memory. Overall, the effect on global cognition was equivalent to reducing cognitive aging by two years.

“These findings will garner attention among many older adults who are, understandably, very interested in ways to preserve brain health, as they provide evidence for the role of a daily multivitamin in supporting better cognitive aging,” said Olivia Okereke, M.D., senior author of the report and director of geriatric psychiatry at MGH, in the news release.

Next, researchers intend to work to understand the mechanisms by which a daily multivitamin may protect against memory loss and cognitive decline.

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