According to findings published in the January 2024 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition taking a multivitamin can help prevent memory loss and slow cognitive aging among older adults.

The authors of the study noted the benefit was significant—study subjects who took a daily multivitamin slowed brain aging by the equivalent of two years compared to the placebo group.

The new research was a follow-up trial related to another study, published 18 months earlier, that showed three years of supplementing with a multi-vitamin/mineral product slowed cognitive aging by 60%.

That study was published in the Alzheimer’s Association trade journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia in September 2022.

Both the 2022 and 2024 studies are part of the ongoing COSMOS Mind study which itself is part of the broader “COSMOS study.” COSMOS is an acronym for COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes.

COSMOS is a large-scale, randomized trial performed in collaboration by Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Columbia University and Wake Forest University. It looked at whether a special cocoa extract supplement, a daily multivitamin or both might help boost health.

The new study was led by Dr. Chirag Vyas, an instructor in investigation at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry.

“Cognitive decline is among the top health concerns for most older adults, and a daily supplement of multivitamins has the potential as an appealing and accessible approach to slow cognitive aging,” said Dr. Vyas in the study findings.

The study, a meta-analysis, involved a review of more than 5,000 participants in three separate, but related, clinical trials. The researchers reported the review provided “strong evidence of benefits for both brain function and memory” for study subjects taking daily multivitamins for two to three years.

In addition, a closer look at a smaller group of 573 people found a statistically significant benefit from multivitamins for memory, but not brain function, the study found.

Benefits were determined utilizing detailed neuropsychological assessments.

Writing in a Massachusetts General Hospital press release, Dr. Vyas noted: “The meta-analysis of three separate cognition studies provides strong and consistent evidence that taking a daily multivitamin, containing more than 20 essential micronutrients, helps prevent memory loss and slow down cognitive aging.”

The study has received widespread publicity in the mainstream media; however, the publicity has likely only happened because the vitamin/mineral product used in the study was provided by the same pharmaceutical company that spends tens of millions of dollars annually in pharmaceutical advertising—Pfizer, Inc.

While Pfizer had no role in the design of the trials, it is interesting to note that the drug company has previously been a noteworthy skeptic regarding the value of vitamin/mineral supplementing. Apparently, now that Pfizer is marketing its own vitamin/mineral product, the company is eager to add to the voluminous existing research proving the value of daily supplementing.

Some have also questioned the choice of a Pfizer product, since their vitamin/mineral tablets are cheaply made chemical-synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals. Previous research has already demonstrated that food-based or organic products—known in the industry as “whole food vitamins and minerals”—provide better results.

Still, the study results were overwhelmingly positive according to the researchers.

The stated goal of the trial was to address the belief that insufficient evidence exists for healthcare providers to recommend daily vitamin/mineral supplements to prevent cognitive decline in elderly populations.

Now, with their new study in hand, even though it is based on trials with synthetic supplements, the researchers appear to feel the proof has been provided: “These findings within the COSMOS trial support the benefits of a daily multi-vitamin/mineral in preventing cognitive decline among older adults.”

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Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.