People over 60 who take a daily multivitamin pill slow age-related memory decline including with participants with underlying heart disease, according to a new study found published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers estimate the improvement, which was sustained over the three-year study period, was equivalent to about three years of age-related memory decline.
More than 3,500 American adults aged over 60 were randomly assigned to take a daily multivitamin supplement or placebo for three years.
At the end of each year, participants performed a series of online cognitive assessments at home designed to test memory function of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is affected by normal aging.
By the end of the first year, memory improved for people taking a daily multivitamin, compared with those taking a placebo.
The results of the new study, led by researchers at Columbia University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard, are consistent with another recent American study of more than 2,200 older adults that found that taking a daily multivitamin improved overall cognition, memory recall, and attention.
Study leader Professor Adam Brickman, of Columbia University, said: “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.
“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.”
Although the researchers did not look at whether any specific component of the multivitamin supplement was linked to the improvement in memory, the findings support growing evidence that nutrition is important for optimizing brain health as we age.
Brickman said: “Because of our innovative approach of assessing cognitive outcomes using internet-based tests, we were able to examine the effects of a multivitamin in thousands of study participants.
“The findings are promising and certainly set the stage for important follow-up studies about the impact of multivitamin supplementation on cognition.”
Study first author Dr. Lok-Kin Yeung, also of Columbia University, said: “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.
“Most older adults are worried about memory changes that occur with aging.
Co-author Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: “The finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory in two separate cognition studies are remarkable, suggesting that multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults.
Brickman added: “Supplementation of any kind shouldn’t take the place of more holistic ways of getting the same micronutrients.
“Though multivitamins are generally safe, people should always consult a physician before taking them.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker