Analysis Indicates Daily Multivitamin Benefits Global Cognition, Episodic Memory in Adults


Compared to placebo, a daily multivitamin showed consistent benefits in global cognition and episodic memory across a clinical trial and meta-analysis of 3 trials.

Results from a recent trial part of the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) that were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirm consistent and statistically significant benefits of a multivitamin for both memory and global cognition. Previously, 2 trials on cognition in COSMOS suggested a positive effect for a daily multivitamin.1

Adult taking a multivitamin with water -- Image credit: Pormezz |

Image credit: Pormezz |

“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 first author Chirag Vyas, MBBS, MPH, instructor in investigation at the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), founding member of the Mass General Brigham health care system, in a press release.

Within the COSMOS studies, the 2 previous trials had tested multivitamin supplementation on cognition using phone-based cognitive assessments (COSMOS-Clinic) and online web-based cognitive assessments (COSMOS-Web). COSMOS-Clinic examined 573 participants aged 60 years or older who completed cognitive tests at baseline.

The COSMOS-Clinic results indicated a modest benefit with the multivitamin compared to placebo on global cognition over 2 years (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.06 SD units [SU] [-0.003, 0.13]) with a significantly more favorable change in episodic memory (mean difference [95% CI] = 0.12 SU [0.002, 0.23]). However, there were no reported benefits to executive function or attention (mean difference [95% CI] = 0.04 SU [-0.04, 0.11]).

“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 senior study author Olivia Okereke, MD SM, director of Geriatric Psychiatry at MGH, in the press release.

Further, the investigators also conducted a meta-analysis based on the 3 COSMOS trials with non-overlapping participants—ranging 2 to 3 years in treatment duration—that presented strong evidence of benefits for episodic memory in addition to global cognition. Similar to COSMOS-Clinic, the meta-analysis demonstrated benefits on global cognition ([95% CI] = 0.07 SU [0.03, 0.11]; P = 0.0009) and episodic memory (mean difference [95% CI] = 0.06 SU [0.03, 0.10]; P = 0.0007), with the magnitude of effect on global cognition being equivalent to reducing cognitive aging by 2 years.1,2

“The finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory and slowed cognitive aging in 3 separate placebo-controlled studies in COSMOS is exciting and further supports the promise of multivitamins as a safe, accessible and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults,” said co-author JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, founding member, chief of the division of preventative medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in the press release.1


1. Mass General Bingham. Third Major Study Finds Evidence that Daily Multivitamin Supplements Improve Memory and Slow Cognitive Aging in Older Adults. News release. January 18, 2024. Accessed January 16, 2024. Email.

2. Vyas CM, Manson JE, Sesso HD, et al. Effect of multivitamin-mineral supplementation versus placebo on cognitive function: results from the clinic subcohort of the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) randomized clinical trial and meta-analysis of 3 cognitive studies within COSMOS. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024. doi:10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.12.011

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