Anxious Older Woman - Detail - ©

Can A Multivitamin Fight Age-Related Dementia?

Science comes up with miracles every day. Now, after a decade of debate over the value of taking a multivitamin every day, a new study claims your one-a-day can help fight dementia.

Multivitamin - © via Wikipedia

A large-scale study led by researchers at Columbia University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard had revealed some potentially exciting news about your common-and-garden daily multivitamin.

Some history…

But let’s step back a bit first, and look at where the world of science most recently left the multivitamin.

A massive study published in 2019 concluded that the value of a daily multivitamin was negligible:

“The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements [and special diets] isn’t there,” said Study Senior Author Dr. Erin D. Michos of John’s Hopkins. […] People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don’t need to take supplements.”

But take note: That study didn’t look at the potential benefits of a daily multivitamin in fighting dementia.

Fast forward to now…

But the scientific and medical communities are only now getting around to exploring the links between vitamin supplements, memory and cognition

According to the abstract of the new John’s Hopkins study, it’s time to fill the gap in the research: “Many older people take vitamins or dietary supplements under the assumption that they will help maintain general health. But studies that have tested whether they improve memory and brain function have been mixed, and very few large-scale, randomized trials have been done.”

What they did

“In the current study, more than 3,500 adults (mostly non-Hispanic white) over age 60 were randomly assigned to take a daily multivitamin supplement or placebo for three years.” the study report preamble explained. “At the end of each year, participants performed a series of online cognitive assessments at home designed to test memory function of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is affected by normal aging.”

What they found

“By the end of the first year, memory improved for people taking a daily multivitamin, compared with those taking a placebo. The researchers estimate the improvement, which was sustained over the three-year study period, was equivalent to about three years of age-related memory decline. The effect was more pronounced in participants with underlying cardiovascular disease.”

The takeaway

“Our study shows that the aging brain may be more sensitive to nutrition than we realized. Though it may not be so important to find out which specific nutrient helps slow age-related cognitive decline,” says study team member Dr. Lok-Kin Yeung.

“The finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory in […] is remarkable, suggesting that multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults,” says study co-author Dr. JoAnn Manson.

My take

Sounds like there will be lots more research in this area, now that the link between vitamin supplements and dementia has been established. Stay tuned! There could be something here we may all be able to use to make our elder years healthier and more rewarding!

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.