Multivitamins may be beneficial to cognitive level | Health/Fitness

Does taking a multivitamin slow cognitive decline?

A daily multivitamin may assist in maintaining both cognition and memory. According to a study published online in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January, a daily supplementation of a multivitamin is beneficial for both global cognition (overall status of our cognition), and episodic memory (deals with our recollection of past events and experiences). The study is the third in a series of studies that are part of the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study.


For this study, researchers gave a subset of 573 people in-clinic assessments. After analyzing their data, the team observed a “modest” benefit from the multivitamin in these individuals. They also saw a significant improvement in the participants’ episodic memory. Researchers estimated that a daily multivitamin had delayed cognitive aging by two years in comparison to those who received a placebo rather than a multivitamin.

“Vitamins and minerals that are found in multivitamins play an important role as catalysts in a variety of our brain functions. Certain vitamins, for instance, like B6 and B12 produce serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters for the brain,” explains Melanie Murphy Richter, MS, RDN, of the University of California, Irvine, in an article about the study on Healthline.com by Nancy Schimelpfening. “If the neurotransmitters are underproduced, our signaling pathways will be slowed or even ineffective. Underproduction of serotonin, for example, can lead to impaired sleep, which is known to accelerate whole-body aging, including of the brain. Micronutrients found in multivitamins can protect against the oxidative damage that is associated with age-related cognitive decline,” she adds.
In the same article, however, Claire Sexton, DPhil, the senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association, notes that although these results are encouraging, the organization is not ready to recommend widespread multivitamin use to prevent cognitive decline.

“Independent confirmatory studies are needed in larger, more diverse and representative study populations,” she stated. “With confirmation, these promising findings have the potential to significantly impact public health — improving brain health, lowering health care costs, reducing caregiver burden — especially among older adults.”

Individuals need to talk with their health care providers about the benefits and risks of dietary supplements they are taking, including multivitamins. Nutrients come from a balanced diet, though it is not always possible for some people.

For now, more research needs to be done to confirm that taking a multivitamin is an effective strategy to prevent cognitive decline as we age.

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