More than 16 million people are living with cognitive impairment in our country, and have trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions. But a new study suggests taking a daily multivitamin may slow the process of cognitive aging in older adults.
That study found that taking a multivitamin every day could slow cognitive decline in seniors ages 65 and older. Internal Medicine Doctor Tara Narula said this could be big.
"When you think about the millions of Americans, six and a half million Americans who have Alzheimer's Disease, this could be a really important public health intervention," she said.
Over a three-year period, older adults were given either a multivitamin or cocoa extract as a placebo. People involved in the study had their cognition tested each year. Researchers found after three years, the people taking the multivitamin appeared to have slowed cognitive aging by about 60-percent compared with the placebo.
"To date there's really been no real review that shows sufficient evidence to recommend a nutrient supplement to protect cognitive health," Dr. Narula said.
She said looking at the study, it's still not clear what's driving the link between a multivitamin and cognitive function, but researchers believe it may be connected to the way supplements can benefit people who might be lacking in micronutrients. Dr. Narula said most people can get those nutrients from a well-balanced meal.
"It is possible that in some older Americans -- particularly those with cardiovascular disease, where they actually saw an enhanced benefit in this study -- there may be micronutrient deficiencies, so people aren't getting enough in their diet and by getting them back, we may be able to promote cognitive function," she said.
Researchers said they were "shocked" at the results of the study. And while they are promising, larger and more diverse studies still need to be done.