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Daily multivitamin may help keep you mentally sharp

The study involved more than 21,000 men and women across the USA.

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Closeup portrait of happy middle aged 50s woman holding pill taking dietary supplements. Portrait of smiling adult attractive woman taking collagen vitamins health in menopause.
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By Stephen Beech via SWNS

A daily multivitamin pill may help keep people over the age of 65 mentally sharp, and may also protect against dementia, according to a new study.

Researchers estimated that popping a pill every day for three years roughly translated to a 60 percent slowing of cognitive decline, equating to nearly two years.

However, the study also showed that daily use of a cocoa extract supplement does not benefit the brain.

Around 5.8 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, including 5.6 million aged 65 and older and about 200,000 under age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer's, according to the CDC.

Study co-principal investigator Professor Laura Baker said: “There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults.”

The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study for the Mind (COSMOS-Mind) was an ancillary study to the COSMOS trial led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital involving more than 21,000 men and women across the United States.

medicine, nutritional supplements and food additives concept - close up of vitamin pills with cod liver oil capsules
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The study investigated whether taking a daily cocoa extract supplement or a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer and other health outcomes.

Prof Baker said that cocoa extract is rich in compounds called flavanols, and previous research suggests that the compounds may positively impact cognition.

She also explained that several micronutrients and minerals are needed to support normal body and brain function, and deficiencies in older adults may increase the risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

In COSMOS-Mind, researchers tested whether daily administration of cocoa extract compared to a placebo and a multivitamin-mineral compared to a placebo improved cognition in older adults.

More than 2,200 participants, ages 65 and older, enrolled and were followed for three years.

They completed tests over the telephone at the beginning and annually to evaluate memory and other cognitive skills.

Prof Baker, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, said: “Our study showed that although cocoa extract did not affect cognition, daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement.

“This is the first evidence of cognitive benefit in a large longer-term study of multivitamin supplementation in older adults.”

The research team estimated that three years of multivitamin supplementation roughly translated to a 60 percent slowing of cognitive decline, equating to around 1.8 years.

They said that the benefits were relatively more pronounced in participants with "significant" cardiovascular disease - which is important because those people are already at increased risk for cognitive impairment and decline.

However, Prof Baker says that further studies are needed to confirm the findings before any health recommendations are made.

She added: “It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline."

“While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people.

"Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.”

The findings were published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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