Daily multivitamin may improve memory in older adults

June 1, 2023—Taking a daily multivitamin may improve memory and help slow cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new study co-authored by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study was published on May 24 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Harvard Chan School co-authors included Professor JoAnn Manson and Associate Professor Howard Sesso, both in the Department of Epidemiology, and Heike Gibson, senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health’s Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk program.

While multivitamins have long been promoted as helpful to general health, their impact specifically on cognition has been unclear. To fill in this gap, the researchers conducted a three-year study in which 3,562 older adults were randomly assigned to take a daily multivitamin or a placebo. The participants were then evaluated each year with a series of neuropsychological tests. The tests primarily measured episodic memory, or immediate recall.

The study found that after one year, the participants who took the daily multivitamin performed better on the tests than those who took a daily placebo. The researchers estimated that between the two groups, the multivitamin group experienced improvements to memory equivalent to delaying 3.1 years of age-related memory change.

“Our findings suggest that multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health in older adults,” said Manson in a May 24 article in Medical News Today.

She added, however, that taking a multivitamin should not be viewed as a substitute for eating a healthy diet or other practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Read the Medical News Today article: Daily multivitamin may improve memory, help slow cognitive decline