May 25, 2023 – Older people who took a daily multivitamin for a year appeared to stave off the equivalent of 3 years of age-related mental decline, according to a new study.
The people continued to take the multivitamin for a total of 3 years and maintained those benefits. People who had heart problems had an even greater benefit.
The study was published this week in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and included 3,562 adults over age 60 who were randomly assigned to take the multivitamin Centrum Silver daily, or take a placebo instead. The people took online brain function tests annually to evaluate the impact of the vitamins, including the ModRey test, which asks people to recall words. “Daily multivitamin supplementation, compared to placebo, improves memory,” the authors concluded. “Multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe and accessible approach towards maintaining cognitive health in older age.”
The researchers also examined whether taking a multivitamin impacted what is called “episodic memory,” which means a person can recall previous experiences. There was no difference in people’s episodic memory based on whether or not they took a multivitamin.
“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,” researcher Adam M. Brickman, PhD, a professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said in a statement.
Health experts recommend getting vitamins and minerals chiefly through eating a healthy diet rather than taking vitamins or supplements. But about one-third of U.S. adults don’t get the recommend amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber from food alone, The Associated Press reported.And as people age, their caloric needs decrease, giving fewer opportunities to pack in nutrients, while they still have the same or even increased nutrient needs, compared to younger people, according to the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. That means they need to make every bite count.
“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,” said Lok-Kin Yeung, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in Columbia’s Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain.