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Memory boost with multivitamins: Study reveals improved cognitive function in older adults

In a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigate whether one yr of supplementation with multivitamins could improve hippocampus-mediated cognition and memory in older adults.



Study: Multivitamin supplementation improves memory in older adults: a randomized clinical trial. Image Credit: photo_gonzo / Shutterstock.com

Background

Healthy dietary patterns are related to improvements in cognitive aging. Moreover, taking dietary supplements and vitamins day by day is believed to delay the progression of cognitive impairment. While some studies have reported a link between cognition and vitamin B12 levels, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and metanalyses report mixed results related to multivitamin supplements and cognition.

The Cocoa Complement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) examined the impact of multivitamin and flavanol supplements on cancer and cardiovascular outcomes in older men and girls as in comparison with placebo. An ancillary study called COSMOS-Mind examined the impact of multivitamin supplements on cognition and compared it with the impact of the placebo.

Concerning the study

In the current study, researchers examine whether supplementation with multivitamins was related to improvements in memory and cognition in older adults. Participants were randomly assigned to either the placebo or multivitamin group consisting of Central Silver multivitamins.

A spread of neuropsychological tests were included within the internet-based battery of tests administered for 3 years and used to measure outcomes comparable to changes in episodic memory or immediate recall performance, Changes in episodic memory were studied over three years of follow-up, as were novel object recognition and other neurophysiological tasks.

Women below the age of 65 years and men younger than 60 years were excluded from the study, as were individuals with a history of stroke or myocardial infarction, those with a recent cancer diagnosis or other serious illnesses, unwillingness to stop consuming cocoa products, multivitamins, or specific vitamins, sensitivity to caffeine, and an inability to talk English.

The performance through the immediate recall trial in COSMOS-Web, the internet-based set of neuropsychological tests, after one yr of multivitamin supplementation, was the measured primary consequence. Secondary outcomes included immediate recall performance, memory retention, and novel object recognition within the second and third years of intervention.

The battery of cognitive tests comprised a 20-item test on word recall, where participants were required to type out the words they remembered with a greater than 80% match to account for typographical errors or in a different way spelled words. The words recalled immediately were considered the first measure, while the words recalled after a delay was the secondary measure, referred to as retention. Immediate recall is expounded to the function of the hippocampus, while retention is related to the function of the entorhinal cortex.

COSMOS-Web also contained a novel object recognition test that measured the response time required during recognition trials to reject lures, which was related to the function of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. A color or directional Flanker test was also included in these neuropsychological tests.

Study findings

Study participants within the multivitamin supplementation groups exhibited significantly higher performance in immediate recall tests than those assigned to the placebo group. These differences were observed after one yr of intervention, in addition to over years two and three. Nonetheless, secondary outcomes comparable to executive function, memory retention, and novel object recognition did significantly improve after supplementation with multivitamins for 3 years.

The improvements in memory performance after multivitamin supplementation as in comparison with the placebo were equal to three.1 years of memory changes related to aging. Because the participants within the multivitamin supplementation and placebo group had similar baseline dietary patterns, differences in dietary quality couldn’t have confounded the outcomes.

Moreover, blood tests revealed that vitamin B12, folate, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) or serum 25(OH)D were all barely elevated within the participants from the supplementation group as in comparison with the placebo group. Thus, further studies are warranted to look at the nutrients or nutrient mixtures that improve cognitive health with respect to age.

Conclusions

Regular multivitamin supplementation in older adults resulted in improvements in cognitive function as in comparison with the placebo. Since vitamins generally haven’t any adversarial effects and are relatively cheaper, they supply a potentially sustainable health intervention to enhance cognitive function in individuals as they age.

Journal reference:

  • Yeung, L., Alschuler, D. M., Wall, M., et al. (2023). Multivitamin supplementation improves memory in older adults: a randomized clinical trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011
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