Multivitamins Slow Cognitive Aging in Seniors, Another Study Shows

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Jan. 19, 2024 – Taking daily multivitamins appears to slow cognitive aging by about 2 years in older adults, three new studies show.

In the latest study, published Thursday in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers observed and tested 573 adults 60 and older in person. In the two previous studies, people taking part in the research responded by phone or online. Overall, about 5,000 people took part in the three studies.

The in-person study showed the multivitamin provided a “modest benefit” on global cognition over 2 years, compared to a placebo. Global cognition includes brain activities such as reasoning, attention, and planning. The multivitamin showed “a statistically significant benefit” for episodic memory, but not in executive function and attention, a news release said.

The researchers’ analysis of the three studies “showed strong evidence of benefits for both global cognition and episodic memory. The authors estimate that the daily multivitamin slowed global cognitive aging by the equivalent of two years compared to placebo,” the release said. (Cognitive aging is a change in mental functions, such as learning, thinking, and memory, that happens when people age.)

The studies are part of the nationwide COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), which is also examining whether a cocoa extract could protect people against heart disease and cancer, NBC News reported. COSMOS is a collaboration between Mass General Brigham, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Columbia University, and Wake Forest University.

The drug company Pfizer, which makes the Centrum Silver multivitamin, provided the multivitamins and the placebo pills. Mars Inc., the candy company, partially funded the study. 

The studies did not specify which vitamins and minerals are responsible for the slowdown in memory loss. 

“Future studies are necessary to identify the specific micronutrients contributing most to the cognitive benefits,” first author Chirag Vyas, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham health care system, told NBC News.

NBC News noted that more diversity is needed in future studies because most people in COSMOS study were White.