Taking a Daily Multivitamin May Help Delay Cognitive Decline, According to a New Study

Adding a multivitamin to your daily routine could be a boon for your cognitive health.

Taking a Daily Multivitamin

You're probably well aware that as you get older, you have to be careful about your physical health—vigilantly getting your flu shot each year, getting a good night's sleep on the regular, and seeing a doctor at the first sign of trouble. But there are things you can do to stay on top of your brain health, as well.

One in every 10 Americans over the age of 65 is living with dementia, and one in five American seniors are experiencing more mild cognitive impairment, which can be a sign that further deterioration is coming. We don't have any way to reverse dementia—only ways to stave it off. And new research from Columbia University may have just found a new method for delaying the onset of memory decline.

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that folks over the age of 60 who took a daily multivitamin had an improved memory compared to those who took a placebo each day. More than 3,500 people took part in the study, which lasted for three years. The researchers estimate that the improvement was enough to compensate for three years of memory decline—which is good news for those trying to extend their brain's healthy life.

The researchers also noted that people who had cardiovascular disease especially benefitted from adding the multivitamin to their day. In a media release, one researcher suggested that folks with heart disease may have seen extra improvement because they already struggle to get all of the nutrients they need through diet alone, making a multivitamin especially helpful.

"The finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory in two separate cognition studies in the COSMOS randomized trial is remarkable, suggesting that multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults," said study co-author JoAnn Manson, M.D. in a media release.

We already know that eating healthy, balanced meals—like those you might eat if you were following the MIND diet—can go a long way toward staving off cognitive decline. But if you struggle to get all of your nutrients through food alone, taking a multivitamin each day can help fill those gaps.

The dietitians at EatingWell don't often recommend taking a supplement—after all, they're mostly unregulated and some are completely ineffective. But we make an exception for taking a daily multivitamin, which can help support your immune system, sharpen your focus and help you keep up your energy. Just try and find a multivitamin that will help you get in the nutrients you aren't already getting in your day-to-day life. For instance, someone who eats spinach or beans most days might not need a multivitamin that includes high quantities of iron, and a person who eats an orange with lunch each day probably won't need an extra dose of vitamin C. If you're not sure what multivitamin is the right choice for you, try chatting with your registered dietitian or doctor to get their recommendation.

The Bottom Line

A new study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that taking a multivitamin each day may improve your memory, especially if you have cardiovascular disease. This research adds to the growing body of evidence that a multivitamin can be quite beneficial to your brain health—a 2022 study in Alzheimer's & Dementia similarly found that a multivitamin could improve memory recall and overall cognition in older adults.

Adding a multivitamin to your morning routine is an easy, one-step way to help you get some of the nutrients you need to have a healthy brain, so consider scoping out the multivitamin aisle the next time you're at the pharmacy. You just might find the right nutrient boost for you.

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