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Regular vitamins may boost memory in older persons: Study

by Pragati Singh

According to new research, taking a daily pill may boost memory in older persons. Researchers projected that three years of multivitamin treatment would result in a 60% reduction in cognitive deterioration (about 1.8 years).

The findings were just published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Alzheimer’s Association Journal. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and one in every three seniors dies from the illness or another type of dementia.

“There is an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults,” said Laura D. Baker, Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the trial with Mark Espeland, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study for the Mind (COSMOS-Mind) was an ancillary study to the COSMOS trial, which was led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and randomised 21,442 men and women across the United States. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

The study looked at whether taking a cocoa extract supplement or a multivitamin-mineral supplement on a regular basis reduced the chance of acquiring heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other health consequences.

According to Baker, cocoa extract is high in flavanols, and previous study shows that these components may improve cognition. Baker also stated that a variety of micronutrients and minerals are required to maintain normal body and brain function, and that shortages in older persons may raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Researchers evaluated whether daily administration of cocoa extract against placebo and a multivitamin-mineral supplement versus placebo improves cognition in older individuals in COSMOS-Mind. More than 2,200 people aged 65 and up signed up and were tracked for three years.

Participants performed telephone tests to assess memory and other cognitive functions at baseline and yearly.

“While cocoa extract had no effect on cognition, regular multivitamin-mineral intake resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement,” Baker explained. “This is the first indication of cognitive advantage in a major longer-term investigation of multivitamin supplementation in older persons,” the researchers write.

The researchers calculated that three years of multivitamin treatment would result in a 60% reduction in cognitive deterioration (about 1.8 years). The advantages were more obvious in patients who had substantial cardiovascular illness, which is noteworthy because these people are already at a higher risk of cognitive impairment and decline.

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“It is too soon to advocate regular multivitamin intake to avoid cognitive impairment,” Baker says. “While these first findings are encouraging, more study in a broader and more varied group of people is required. Furthermore, further research is needed to determine why multivitamins may help cognition in older persons.”

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