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A Daily Multivitamin Linked to Slower Brain Aging In Older Adults

All of us want to age well, with as little physical and mental decline as possible. Multivitamins may help. A recent study found that in older adults (over 65 years) taking an ordinary multivitamin daily for at least 3 years is associated with a 60% slowing of cognitive decline. That's huge!

Unfortunately, in this study ingesting cocoa flavanols did not have any beneficial effect. The multivitamins appeared to be most beneficial for persons with heart disease.

What made this study noteworthy were the large number of participants, that there were different groups, and that there was also a control group who got a placebo (in other words - a fake pill). It was an observational study, therefore can't definitely say cause and effect, but still... those are nice results.

From Medscape: Multivitamins, but Not Cocoa, Tied to Slowed Brain Aging

Taking a daily multivitamin for 3 years is associated with a 60% slowing of cognitive aging, with the effects especially pronounced in patients with cardiovascular (CVD) disease, new research suggests.

In addition to testing the effect of a daily multivitamin on cognition the COSMOS-Mind study also examined the effect of cocoa flavanols, but showed no beneficial effect.

The findings "may have important public health implications, particularly for brain health, given the accessibility of multivitamins and minerals, and their low cost and safety," said study investigator Laura D. Baker, PhD, professor, Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The study is a substudy of a large parent trial that compared the effects of cocoa extract (500 mg/day cocoa flavanols) and a standard multivitamin-mineral (MVM) to placebo on cardiovascular and cancer outcomes in more than 21,000 older participants.

COSMOS-Mind included 2262 adults aged 65 and over without dementia who underwent cognitive testing at baseline and annually for 3 years. The mean age at baseline was 73 years, and 40.4% were men. Most participants (88.7%) were non-Hispanic white and almost half (49.2%) had some post-college education.

Using a graph of change over time, Baker showed there was no effect of cocoa on global cognitive function. "We see the to-be-expected practice effects, but there's no separation between the active and placebo groups," she said.

As expected, those with CVD had lower cognitive scores at baseline. "But after an initial bump due to practice effect, at year 1, the cardiovascular disease history folks continue to benefit from multivitamins, whereas those who got placebo multivitamins continue to decline over time," said Baker.

These findings presented at: 14th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease (CTAD) conference: Oral Communications (OC) #4. Presented November 10, 2021.

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