Take Your Vitamins: Recent Study Links Multivitamins and Brain Health

Researchers have discovered that a certain multivitamin-mineral supplement produced up to a 60 percent slowing of cognitive decline compared to both placebo and cocoa extract groups. Is this the solution for brain decline in elderly folks? Read to learn more.

Take Your Vitamins: Recent Study Links Multivitamins and Brain Health
A recent study indicated that a daily multivitamin might improve cognitive wellness in older populations.

Many of us remember our mothers urging us to take our vitamins every morning. Whether we loved or loathed this practice, it turns out our mothers were probably right. A recent study has correlated daily multivitamin usage with better brain health and slower rates of cognitive decline in older populations.

What Is a Multivitamin?

If you wander down the vitamin and supplement aisle at your local pharmacy, you might be overwhelmed by the options. There are vitamins for every letter of the alphabet, from A to Z(inc). Multivitamins usually contain a combination of many vitamins and minerals that can provide you with a daily dose of key nutrients all at once.

Multivitamins and Brain Health

A recent study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia may have linked daily multivitamin usage with slower rates of cognitive decline, particularly in elderly populations. This study divided participants into four groups and provided the members of each group with either a daily dose of a cocoa extract supplement and a multivitamin, the cocoa extract supplement alone, the multivitamin alone or just placebo. Participants were monitored over the course of three years, during which they periodically participated in phone interviews and tests to track their cognitive function in areas such as verbal fluency, story recall, numerical ordering, and other areas associated with early memory loss.

Though the researchers expected that the cocoa extract would provide the most benefit (citing links between cocoa extract and cardiovascular abilities found in the past), they actually discovered that the multivitamin produced the best results: up to a 60 percent slowing of cognitive decline compared to both the placebo and the cocoa extract groups. This result appeared to be strongest in the case of those with a history of cardiovascular problems.

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How Does It Work?

Though it’s not completely clear why multivitamins produce these results, the researchers involved suspect it has to do with deficiencies in micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C and E. As people age, a combination of poor nutrition, aging bodies, new or existing health conditions, and medications can make micronutrient absorption less efficient. The multivitamin theoretically makes up for this by adding an extra boost of those nutrients every day.

Micronutrient deficiencies may be related to brain issues such as cognitive decline and dementia. A daily multivitamin may combat that, studies show.

The Next Steps

Though the study shows promise, the researchers believe that further studies will be necessary to confirm the results. Certain factors may need to be examined, such as possible vitamin deficiency prior to the study, as well as a more diverse participant sample — the vast majority of the participants were white and elderly, and more than half were women. Future research may also examine whether the effects wane if usage is stopped, or if effectiveness remains stable over long-term use.

How to Choose a Multivitamin

With all of the options available, how do you know which multivitamin is best for optimum wellness? Start by deciding what form you’d like. Are you comfortable swallowing large pills, or would you prefer something you can chew up? Next, look at the ingredients. Each multivitamin contains slightly different levels of each vitamin and mineral; some don’t include certain vitamins at all. Make sure it includes the right levels of the vitamins and minerals you require, and stay away from multivitamins that contain additives or allergens that have a detrimental impact on your health.

Also, always talk to a doctor or qualified nutritionist before adding any supplement to your diet. They can help you determine what nutrients you need, as well as whether any supplement might interact negatively with any of your other prescriptions or supplements.

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