Depending on who you ask, the humble multivitamin is either crucial to your health or a scam peddled by charlatans. But what if multivitamins could slow or even reverse cognitive decline?
Alzheimer’s disease is a scourge affecting more than 401,300 Australians – the equivalent to 15 people out of every 1000. The disease affects more women than men, with women making up more than two-thirds of case numbers.
Alzheimer’s is most common in those aged 65 and over, but symptoms can begin earlier. As such, the search for effective treatments is a high priority for researchers.
Now, a study from Wake Forest University, in North Carolina, has found that for older people, taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement can slow cognitive decline by as much as 60 per cent and even reverse the damage in some cases.
Professor Laura D. Baker, lead author of the study, told Science Daily the results of the study were very promising.
“There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults,” she says.
“Our study showed that … daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement. This is the first evidence of cognitive benefit in a large longer-term study of multivitamin supplementation in older adults.”
The researchers followed 2200 men and women, aged 65 and over, to investigate whether taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement or a cocoa supplement daily would have any effect on cognitive performance.
Participants completed tests over the telephone at baseline and annually to evaluate memory and other cognitive abilities.
Based on the results, the researchers estimate the patients taking the multivitamin slowed their cognitive decline by around 60 per cent. The group taking the cocoa supplement reported no significant change in cognitive abilities.
Prof. Baker says that while the results are very promising, more research is needed to fully understand why the multivitamin-mineral supplement affects cognition so much.
“It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline,” she says.
“While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people.
“Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.”
Do you take any multivitamins? Do you feel they’re benefitting you? Let us know in the comments section below.