A new study, called the COSMOS-Web study, suggests that regular use of multivitamins may help curb memory loss associated with aging. The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate a link between daily multivitamin supplement use and a slowdown in cognitive decline.
Led by Dr. Adam Brickman, a neuropsychology professor at Columbia University, the research team studied 3,562 older adults who were randomly assigned to receive either a multivitamin supplement or a placebo. Over a three-year period, the participants, aged 60 and above, underwent annual cognitive assessments to evaluate the impact of the supplements on the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory.
The study revealed that compared to the placebo group, those taking multivitamin supplements showed better performance on memory tests starting from the first year and maintained the improvement throughout the study. The estimated effect was equivalent to about three years of memory decline.
Dr. Lok-Kin Yeung, a postdoctoral researcher and study author, emphasized that the findings highlight the potential sensitivity of the aging brain to nutrition, and it may not be necessary to identify specific nutrients that slow cognitive decline.
Interestingly, the supplements appeared to have a stronger effect in individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease, although the researchers were unable to explain the exact reason behind this observation. Brickman noted that people with cardiovascular disease may have lower levels of micronutrients that multivitamins can potentially correct, but further investigation is required to understand this phenomenon better.
The COSMOS-Web study is part of a larger clinical trial called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. These recent findings support the COSMOS-Mind study conducted last year, which involved more than 2,000 older adults and demonstrated overall improvement in cognition, memory recall, and attention with multivitamin use.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, the chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and co-author of the study, highlighted the significance of the findings, stating that they suggest multivitamin supplementation could be a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protect cognitive health in older adults.