A groundbreaking study suggests that daily multivitamin supplementation can enhance memory and cognition in adults aged 60 and above. Conducted as part of the COcoa
Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), the research demonstrated that those who took a multivitamin for two years exhibited higher scores on memory and cognitive tests compared to a placebo group. While the ﬁndings offer a glimpse into the potential cognitive beneﬁts of multivitamins, experts caution that the advantages are modest and may not necessarily translate into tangible improvements in daily life.
Dr. Chirag Vyas, a lead author of the study, views the results as a promising indication that multivitamins could serve as a safe, affordable, and accessible strategy to safeguard cognitive health in older adults. However, skepticism exists within the scientiﬁc community regarding the signiﬁcance of the observed beneﬁts. Mary Butler, an associate professor of public health, emphasizes the need for cautious optimism, acknowledging the promising nature of the ﬁndings while refraining from unequivocal endorsement.
The COSMOS study, involving over 21,000 older adults, scrutinized whether supplements could protect against age-related diseases. The subset of 573 participants who took part in cognitive tests showed improvements in both the multivitamin and placebo groups over the two-year period. Notably, the multivitamin group displayed a slightly greater cognitive gain, particularly in memory assessments. The study’s amalgamation with prior investigations involving over 5,000 participants reinforced a consistent improvement in memory and overall cognitive ability among those taking multivitamins.
Despite the positive outcomes, experts caution against overstating the beneﬁts. Dr. Hussein Yassine underscores the modest nature of the ﬁndings, cautioning that while some may have genuinely beneﬁted from multivitamins, the majority likely did not. The estimated two-year reduction in brain aging, based on memory improvements, faces scrutiny, with some experts challenging the interpretation as misleading.
Dr. Pieter Cohen expresses reservations about the study’s primary concern, emphasizing the need for more meaningful outcomes such as a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s or prolonged independent living. Dr. JoAnn Manson, co-principal investigator of the trial, agrees that further research is essential, emphasizing the importance of exploring multivitamin effects in more diverse groups.
The call for more nuanced research is echoed by Dr. Yassine, who suggests analyzing who beneﬁts from multivitamins and why. Factors such as nutrient deﬁciencies, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc, could play a role in driving cognitive gains.
Instead of a universal recommendation for multivitamin use, the emphasis should be on understanding speciﬁc populations that may derive beneﬁts.
While multivitamins may be beneﬁcial for individuals with nutrient absorption challenges, experts caution against generalizing these ﬁndings to all healthy individuals.
The COSMOS study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and Mars Inc., initially focused on heart disease and cancer risk, with limited beneﬁts observed for both supplements. While multivitamins show promise in this study, the consensus remains that a healthy diet and lifestyle interventions offer a more holistic approach to brain health.
What are your thoughts on the potential cognitive beneﬁts of multivitamins? Have you personally experienced improvements in memory or cognition through supplementation? Share your insights and experiences in our forum.