This Supplement May Improve Cognitive Function as You Age, New Study Says
While ensuring that you're eating a balanced diet is a key factor when it comes to staying healthy, as is regular physical activity, you might also want to add certain kinds of supplements into your regular routine in order to keep yourself in tip-top shape. For instance, a new study has found that taking a daily multivitamin may improve cognitive function as you get older.
In the randomized study from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine conducted with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston which was published in Alzheimer's & Dementia, 2,262 participants who were 65 years old or older and had no previous history of serious health issues were given a daily multivitamin-mineral, cocoa extract (500 milligrams/day flavanols), or a placebo. After initially determining the participants' cognitive abilities such as their memory and executive function, those behind the study then tested participants again each year for three years.
The eventual findings showed that while the cocoa extract wasn't beneficial, there was a potential connection between the daily multivitamin and better cognitive function including memory and executive function (the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus, remember instructions, and multitask). Beyond that, those who had cardiovascular disease saw the most improvement in their cognitive function while taking daily multivitamins.
Although the study did not examine the causes behind the link between multivitamin intake and cognitive function, Amanda Lane, MS, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian and Founder of Healthful Lane Nutrition, notes that the correlation makes sense due to the role vitamins and mineral play in our health. "Vitamins and minerals serve a vital role in our body's metabolism including cognition," Lane, tells Eat This, Not That!. Beyond that, Lane notes that "it is great to see that a standard multivitamin can have protective benefits for cognition in older adults."
Although the study identified cognitive benefits of taking a multivitamin, Lane reminds us that a balanced diet should still be a key focus above supplementation. "A standard multivitamin can help fill any gaps in the diet," Lane says, but "fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are great sources of vitamins and minerals." She underscores that "we often do not eat enough of these foods in our Western Diet," which may be why multivitamin supplementation had such positive effects in this study.
If you're interested in taking a daily multivitamin in order to potentially improve your cognitive health as you age, it's important to note, as Lane points out, that "supplements are not regulated by the FDA." Because of that, "those with chronic health conditions should talk with their dietitian or physician before starting a vitamin regimen."