Multivitamins linked to healthier brains in old age
WEDNESDAY, September 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A daily multivitamin could help keep your brain immune to any decline in thinking skills, according to a new study.
In a trial of over 21,000 men and women, study authors reported that cocoa had no benefit on thinking skills, but taking a daily multivitamin improved cognition among the 2,000 attendees. All were aged 65 and over.
“Our results are promising because they indicate a potentially very accessible, safe, and inexpensive intervention that may provide a layer of protection against thinking decline in older adults. But more work is needed before widespread recommendations on the regular use can be made,” said lead researcher Laura Baker. She is a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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Baker’s team found that taking a multivitamin over a three-year period reduced thought decline by about 60%. Benefits were greater in people heart diseasewhich is important because they are already at risk for thought decline, the researchers noted.
The effect of cocoa on brain power was the focus of the study, but it failed. On the other hand, the multivitamin was associated with better cognition.
These results weren’t what the investigators expected, and it’s unclear why a multivitamin might have this effect, Baker said.
The researchers assumed that the elderly were well nourished, but they did not take into account other medical conditions the elderly may have or the medications they take.
Additionally, Baker noted that Americans in general don’t eat healthy, so they may be lacking in some important nutrients that multivitamins help replace.
Other studies evaluating the benefit of taking a multivitamin have found no benefit. But Baker added that most of these studies were done in men and women who are professionals and more likely to have a healthy diet.
Maria Carrillo, scientific director of the Alzheimer’s Association, said that although the results are encouraging, the association does not recommend the use of a multivitamin to reduce the risk of thinking decline in older people.
“Before any recommendation, independent confirmatory studies are needed in larger and more diverse study populations. It is essential that future treatments and preventions are effective in all populations,” Carrillo said.
Baker noted that they plan to test their results in a larger trial with a diverse population.
“We’re really going to work hard to reach far out of hospitals and into rural communities and get better representation so that we can make a broad statement about all people, not just white people,” Baker said.
But she also doesn’t recommend people start taking a multivitamin in hopes of preventing thought decline just yet.
“We’re not in a position where this work is ready for general recommendation, because there’s a lot that’s unknown at this point,” Baker added.
If these results can be confirmed, Carrillo said, it could “have a significant impact on public health — improving brain health, reducing health care costs, and reducing caregiver burden — especially among older adults.” People should talk with their health care provider about the benefits and risks of…multivitamins.”
The report was published online September 14 in the journal Alzheimer’s and dementia.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit Alzheimer Association.
SOURCES: Laura Baker, PhD, professor, gerontology and geriatric medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC; Maria Carrillo, PhD, Scientific Director, Alzheimer Association; Alzheimer’s and dementiaSeptember 14, 2022, online