Multivitamins May Slow Cognitive Aging, According to Recent Meta-Analysis

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Patients who took a multivitamin for 2 to 3 years showed improvements in global cognition and episodic memory compared with placebo.

The results of 3 different trials examining effects of multivitamins on cognition suggest that multivitamin supplements can slow cognitive aging and improve memory, according to a recent press release published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The trials are part of the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) consortium.

Image credit: bluebackimage | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: bluebackimage | stock.adobe.com

“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), in the article.

By 2060, approximately 25% of individuals in the United States will be at an age where they are at risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease. Investigators with Mass General Brigham (MGB) conducted the COSMOS trial to evaluate the benefits of a cocoa supplement and daily multivitamin on memory and global cognition compared with placebo, then conducted a meta-analysis of findings from all 3 COSMOS studies, including more than 5000 US participants aged 60 years and older.

After 2 to 3 years of taking a multivitamin supplement, the global cognitive aging of patients was slowed by approximately 2 years compared with those taking a placebo. These findings offer “strong and consistent evidence that taking a daily multivitamin, containing more than 20 essential micronutrients, helps prevent memory loss and slow down cognitive aging,” said Vyas in the press release.

The first 2 studies of the COSMOS consortium used telephone-based cognitive assessments (COSMOS-MIND) and online web-based cognitive assessments (COSMOS-Web) to evaluate the impact of multivitamin supplementation on cognition. This was when investigators first discovered that multivitamin supplementation could have a positive effect on cognition.

The third study, COSMOS-Clinic, evaluated a multivitamin supplement for cognition using an in-person patient sample. After 2 years of supplementation, more than 500 patients took an in-person cognitive test, which showed that multivitamins can modestly improve global cognition compared to placebo. The multivitamin also statistically improved episodic memory, but notexecutive function/attention, compared with placebo.

These cognitive studies involve the efforts of investigators from MGH, BWH, Columbia University, and Wake Forest University, and they illuminate the potential of multivitamins as being an effective and affordable way to prolong cognition. However, more studies should be done to understand how a daily multivitamin works to protect against memory loss and cognitive decline. Research should also evaluate the role of nutritional status and other aging-related factors, according to the study authors.

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

REFERENCE

Third major study finds evidence that daily multivitamin supplements improve memory and slow cognitive aging in older adults. Mass General Brigham. News Release. January 18, 2024. Accessed on February 5, 2024. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/1031392

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