Multivitamins may help maintain good memory as you age, study finds

Author: Clark Tos
2022-09-17 13:49:01

Did you know ? A commercial vitamin may help improve memory despite aging.

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Taking a commercially available multivitamin and mineral supplement for three years resulted in those affected performing better on memory and cognition tests than those taking a placebo pill. Concretely, the candidates who took the real vitamin had a cognitive age 1.8 years lower than that of the other participants. 'It's a revelation' said Laura Baker, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The benefits of taking multivitamin pills have been debated by doctors. They were once widely recommended as 'insurance' for people with poor diets, based on studies showing that people who took them tended to be healthier. But these studies were not placebo-controlled trials, which is the best kind of medical evidence. And when such trials were done, they found no benefit to taking supplements for most healthy people. One of the reasons for this is that vitamin tablets are more popular with people who take care of their health anyway.

The latest research is a trial of nearly 2,300 Americans between the ages of 65 and 100. Laura Baker and her team launched the study because they wanted to see if flavanols, compounds found in chocolate that are said to have health benefits, would help delay cognitive decline with age. The trial included a group that took a standard multivitamin and mineral pill for comparison.

At the start of the trial, participants took a series of cognitive tests over the phone covering memory, verbal abilities and numerical skills, the results of which were aggregated into a single score. They were then randomly selected to take once a day, for three years, either a flavanol supplement, the combined multivitamin and mineral tablet, or a placebo. Similar cognitive tests were repeated every year for the three years.

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The impact of multivitamins on health

All groups performed slightly better, on average, after one and two years, while after three years their scores were more or less stabilized. 'It's probably because in the first two years people became familiar with how to do the tests' explained Laura Baker. Those who took the multivitamin and mineral supplements scored slightly higher than those who took the placebo pill, but the flavanol group did not achieve a significant benefit. It is not known which components of multivitamin and mineral tablets are responsible for this.

The beneficial effect of the multivitamin was greater in people with heart or circulatory disease, presumably because “Cardiovascular disease has a significant impact on the health of the brain ' explains Laura Baker. “These results are very promising and could have an important impact on public health” said Rebecca Edelmayer of the Alzheimer's Association, a US charity. But they do not provide sufficient evidence to recommend the use of supplements, as the results need to be confirmed in a larger group of people.

Anyway, one thing is certain, this study is particularly encouraging.

Source : NewScientist