Take a multivitamin a day for your brain


Taking multivitamins might be a simple and accessible way to help us maintain our memory as we age. — AFP

A daily multivitamin supplement may not only improve memory, but also delay cognitive ageing in older people.

This is according to a vast study involving over 5,000 American adults, 500 of whom were monitored physically for two years.

These findings could make it possible to preserve the brain health of older people at lower cost.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 55 million people have dementia worldwide, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 60% to 70% of cases.

WHO also estimates that with a global ageing population, this figure is set to rise exponentially in the coming years, reaching 152 million people by 2050.

This public health problem has a cost – estimated to be more than US$818 billion (RM3,868 billion) annually in 2017 – and which could more than double by 2030.

This also weighs heavily on carers – the people who support loved ones with disabilities or loss of independence.

This gives researchers all the more reason to focus on finding sustainable solutions for preserving the cognitive functions of older people.

This is the aim of the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (Cosmos), a large-scale study conducted in the United States (21,442 participants aged 60 and over) to determine the impact of different types of dietary supplements on cardiovascular (heart) health, cancer and other diseases.

For this latest instalment, researchers at the US hospital-based research enterprise Mass General Brigham focused more specifically on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of taking one multivitamin supplement per day, compared to a placebo, on memory and overall cognition.

They followed 573 participants in person for two years, and also evaluated the results of a combined analysis of three different studies.

“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 ageing,” said study first author Dr Chirag Vyas in a news release.

Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the research was conducted in two phases.

The clinical study first showed “a modest benefit” for daily multivitamin intake, compared to the placebo, on global cognition over the two years of follow-up, but “a statistically significant benefit” on episodic memory.

But it was the meta-analysis that highlighted “strong evidence of benefits for both global cognition and episodic memory”.

All this led the researchers to suggest that taking a multivitamin every day was effective in slowing overall cognitive ageing by the equivalent of around two years, compared to taking a placebo.

“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 ageing,” explains Dr Vyas.

Study senior author Dr Olivia Okereke concludes: “These findings will garner attention among many older adults who are, understandably, very interested in ways to preserve brain health, as they provide evidence for the role of a daily multivitamin in supporting better cognitive ageing.”

A previous Cosmos study looked at the benefits of cocoa flavanols on cognitive function.

Researchers then reported that taking a daily supplement of cocoa extracts had no benefit on cognitive function, except in people with a poor-quality diet. – AFP Relaxnews

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Vitamins , memory , brain , senior health


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