Posted on May 24, 2023, 1 p.m.
According to a large study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those aged 60+ who take a multivitamin every day may benefit from the slower age-related memory decline. Researchers from Columbia University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard reported that the results of improvement remained steady over the 3 year study period, and the impact was more significant among those with underlying heart disease.
For this study over 3,500 adults aged 60+ were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or a multivitamin every day for 3 years, at the beginning of the study and at every year's end participants completed a series of cognitive testing designed to evaluate the memory function of the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that is typically influenced by normal brain aging.
The researchers found that end of the first year memory improvement was observed in the participants who were consuming the multivitamin as compared to the controls taking the placebo. Estimated improvement sustained after three years was the equivalent of around three years of age-related memory decline, and the effect was more pronounced in those with underlying cardiovascular disease.
The findings of this study align with another American study, the COSMOS study, involving over 2,200 older adults who were taking daily multivitamins and experienced improved overall cognition, memory recall, and attention, as well as more pronounced effects in those with underlying cardiovascular disease. The COSMOS-Web study is part of a large clinical trial led by Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS).
“Cognitive aging is a top health concern for older adults, and this study suggests that there may be a simple, inexpensive way to help older adults slow down memory decline,” says Professor Adam Brickman, the study leader from Columbia University. “There is evidence that people with cardiovascular disease may have lower micronutrient levels that multivitamins may correct, but we don’t really know right now why the effect is stronger in this group.”
“Our study shows that the aging brain may be more sensitive to nutrition than we realized, though it may not be so important to find out which specific nutrient helps slow age-related cognitive decline,” says Dr. Lok-Kin Yeung, the study’s first author, also from Columbia University. “Most older adults are worried about memory changes that occur with aging. Our study suggests that supplementation with multivitamins may be a simple and inexpensive way for older adults to slow down memory loss.”
Although the study did not investigate if a specific component of the multivitamin supplement was connected to the improvements, the results add to a growing body of evidence indicating the importance of nutrition in optimizing brain health with age. The researchers concluded that even though supplements can be beneficial they should not be relied upon to replace obtaining micronutrients through healthy dietary practices, and that use of multivitamins is typically deemed as being safe but it is still recommended to consult with a medical professional before making changes to your daily dietary routine.
“The finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory in two separate cognition studies in the COSMOS randomized trial is remarkable, suggesting that multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults,” says co-author JoAnn Manson, MD, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“Supplementation of any kind shouldn’t take the place of more holistic ways of getting the same micronutrients,” adds Brickman. “Though multivitamins are generally safe, people should always consult a physician before taking them.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Content may be edited for style and length.
References/Sources/Materials provided by: