Incorporating a vitamin into your morning routine, perhaps in the form of a gummy treat, is a simple and popular practice. While many use vitamins for specific health benefits, a recent study has unveiled a multivitamin that may have a particularly exciting impact—preserving cognitive function and enhancing memory, ultimately contributing to keeping the brain young. Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study focused on U.S. adults aged 60 and older, exploring the effects of multivitamin-mineral supplements on late-life cognitive function. Part of the larger COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), the research involved 573 participants who took either a multivitamin or a placebo and underwent in-person cognitive assessments.
Over the span of two years, those who consumed a daily multivitamin exhibited higher scores in cognitive assessments and memory tests compared to the placebo group. The study’s first author, Chirag Vyas, MBBS, MPH, emphasized that cognitive decline is a significant concern for older adults, and daily multivitamin supplementation presents a promising and accessible approach to slowing cognitive aging. While the cognitive benefits were described as modest compared to the placebo, a “significant benefit” was noted for episodic memory, which involves recalling personally experienced events associated with specific times and places.
The findings were consistent with two other studies from the COSMOS project, collectively suggesting a notable impact on global cognition and episodic memory. The studies estimated that daily multivitamin intake reduced cognitive aging by approximately two years compared to the placebo. While researchers, including JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, celebrated these results as an exciting development, some experts cautioned that the findings should be approached with caution. Mary Butler, an associate professor of public health, regarded the results as promising but recommended a measured interpretation. Other medical professionals questioned the claim of a two-year slowdown in cognitive aging, emphasizing the need for further research encompassing diverse demographics and understanding who benefits most from multivitamin supplementation.