Taking Multivitamins Daily May Slow Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

Taking Multivitamins Daily May Slow Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
Taking Multivitamins Daily May Slow Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Researchers were shocked by the results of the study, which found that daily multivitamins may be associated with improved brain function in older adults. Experts in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are also excited about the finding, but caution that larger studies are needed before multivitamins can be clinically recommended.

The study, published in Alzheimer’s Association, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, surveyed 2,262 people all aged 65 and older, and followed those individuals for three years after they signed up between August 2016 and August 2017 for the survey. The study found that daily vitamins may slow cognitive decline by about 60% (or about two years) and is most effective in seniors who have a history of cardiovascular disease.

“We provide the first evidence in a long-term, randomized controlled trial of older women and men that daily use of a safe, readily accessible, and low-cost multivitamin-mineral can improve cognition,” the researchers wrote. “This finding could have important public health implications for brain health and resilience against future cognitive decline.”

The participants of the trial, which is referred to as COSMOS-Mind, were divided into four groups: one group took daily multivitamins as well as cocoa extract containing flavonoids (phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory effects and protect cells from oxidative damage), another group who took only the cocoa supplement, a third group that took only multivitamins, and a fourth group who took a placebo.

The researchers found that cocoa had no effect on the participants’ cognitive functions, but that multivitamins showed improvements in the brain function of those taking them over the course of three years, and had a particularly significant impact on the cognitive function in those with cardiovascular disease, which is a known risk factor and can slow cognitive functions.

“It’s well-known that those with cardiovascular risk factors could have lower levels in their blood of vitamins and minerals. So supplementing those vitamins and minerals could improve cardiovascular health and, by virtue of that, improve cognitive health — and we know that there’s a strong connection between cardiovascular health and brain health,” said Dr. Keith Vossel, a professor of neurology and director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Care at the University of California, but who was not involved in the study.

“If we can really eliminate or really prevent chronic diseases, we could prevent dementias,” he added. “Roughly up to 40% of dementia could be prevented with just better preventative measures throughout life’s span.”

Vossel warns that researchers have “been down this road before” in studying the connection between vitamins and cognition. For instance, some health professionals began recommending vitamin E to help boost cognition after research showed promising results that it would help combat Alzheimer’s and dementia, says Vossel, but since then results have been mixed.

Jeff Kaye, who directs Oregon Health & Science University’s aging and Alzheimer’s center and was not a part of the study, is also skeptical of the findings.

“You could score a point better when you take the test a year later, and it’s statistically significant,” said Kaye. “But does that translate into anything meaningful in a person’s life?”

The researchers are planning a second trial in the future and will be using more diverse participants, as one dementia specialist noted that the COSMOS-Mind study focused primarily on white people with high levels of education.

“While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people. Also, we still have work to do to better understand why multivitamins might benefit cognition in older adults,” said Professor Laura Baker, co-principal investigator on the Cosmos study at Wake Forest University.

A similar study reported by CNN in early August showed one way that adults can slow their cognitive function: ultra processed foods. The study found that eating processed foods like pre-packaged soups, frozen pizzas and ready-to-eat meals for more than 20% of one’s daily calorie intake can slow cognitive function.

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