Do You Take a Daily Multivitamin? Scientists Say It May Be the Secret to Preventing Mental Decline as You Age

Although more research is needed to make any concrete health recommendations, preliminary evidence shows that taking multivitamins for a year may slow cognitive decline by 60%.

smiling woman taking a vitamin
Photo: fizkes / Getty Images

There are plenty of ways we try to protect our brains against cognitive decline, like doing crossword puzzles and exercising regularly—but can keeping your mind sharp be as simple as taking a daily multivitamin? Scientists seem to think so. According to new research published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, multivitamins can improve thinking skills in older individuals and help prevent cognitive decline.

The researchers' main goal was to uncover if taking either a daily cocoa extract supplement or a daily multivitamin would impact risk factors related to heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other health issues. (According to the study, cocoa extract is rich in flavanols, which may slow cognitive decline through improved blood flow.)

Scientists from Wake Forest University and Brigham and Women's Hospital then monitored the effects of taking a daily placebo versus a cocoa extract supplement and the effects of taking a daily placebo and a multivitamin. In total, 2,200 participants, all aged 65 years and older, were included in the study. The participants were tracked for a period of three years, completing memory and cognition tests annually.

While cocoa extract didn't appear to affect cognition, the researchers found that taking a daily multivitamin resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement. The study authors note that taking a multivitamin for three years may slow cognitive decline by about 60%.

While more research is needed on the subject before making any health recommendations, this is the first long-term study that's found evidence that taking a daily multivitamin may improve cognitive function in older adults. Study authors note that the results are promising, but more work must be done in order to understand why a daily multivitamin may slow cognitive decline.

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