Taking a multivitamin daily could help improve memory in older adults, according to a new study. This finding could help in rolling out an easy and inexpensive way of slowing down age-related memory decline.
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved more than 3,500 adults over the age of 60 who were randomly assigned to take a daily multivitamin supplement or a dummy pill for three years. At the beginning of the study and the end of each year, these adults took an online cognitive test to assess their short-term memory. The test measured the function of the hippocampus, an area in the brain that controls learning and memory, Adam Brickman, the Columbia University professor of neuropsychology who led the study, as reported by AP.
The findings showed that multivitamins may boost memory function in some people, by the equivalent of three years of normal, age-related memory loss, according to AP. Although the study isn’t comprehensive enough to make broad recommendations, it provides important information about their use, said Brickman.
“Well-designed research studies are showing that there might indeed be some benefits " in taking multivitamins, he added, as reported by AP. The study also showed that memory improvement was more pronounced in people with heart disease.
This is the second large study conducted by researchers to show that memory improved in older adults who took daily multivitamins, according to AP. It is also part of a large clinical trial called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS).
The study shows that vitamin pills could help provide the missing micronutrients, especially in older adults’ diets, said Robert Hackman, a research nutritionist with the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the research. Research shows that about a third of adults older than 60 years do not get sufficient vitamins, minerals and fibre from food alone, according to AP.
It’s also important to note that the Alzheimer’s Association does not recommend the use of multivitamins to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
A limitation of the study is that most participants were white and highly educated. “I’d feel more comfortable if these results were replicated in a more generalizable cohort,” Mark A. Espeland, PhD, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told Healthline.