Daily multivitamin supplement may improve cognition in older adults

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According to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a daily multivitamin supplement may improve cognition in older adults.

However, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings before any health recommendations are made.

The study, recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, also found that daily use of a cocoa extract supplement does not benefit cognition.


Alzheimer’s disease affects over 6.5 million Americans, with one in three seniors dying with the disease or another form of dementia.

“There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults,” said Laura D. Baker, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The COSMOS-Mind Study

The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study for the Mind (COSMOS-Mind) was a subsidiary study to the COSMOS trial led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

It involved 21,442 men and women from across the U.S., investigating whether taking a daily cocoa extract supplement or a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other health outcomes.

Cocoa extract, rich in compounds called flavanols, has been suggested in past research to positively impact cognition.

Micronutrients and minerals, which are crucial for normal body and brain function, may have a deficiency in older adults, increasing the risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

In COSMOS-Mind, researchers tested whether daily administration of cocoa extract versus placebo and a multivitamin-mineral versus placebo improved cognition in older adults.

Over 2,200 participants aged 65 and older enrolled and were followed for three years, with annual tests evaluating memory and other cognitive abilities.


The study found that while cocoa extract had no impact on cognition, 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,” Baker said.

Researchers estimated that three years of multivitamin supplementation equated to roughly a 60% slowing of cognitive decline (about 1.8 years).

The benefits were relatively more pronounced in participants with significant cardiovascular disease, already at an increased risk for cognitive impairment and decline.

Next Steps

However, it is too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline.

“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,” Baker concluded.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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