New COSMOS ancillary study finds that multivitamin supplementation may support episodic memory

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The study included 3562 adults who were randomized to receive a daily multivitamins or placebo for three years while being evaluated annually with an internet-based battery of neuropsychological tests.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

Photo © iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

The most recent ancillary trial of The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), called the COSMOS-Web study1, found that multivitamin supplementation may improve memory in older adults. The study included 3562 adults who were randomized to receive a daily multivitamins or placebo for three years while being evaluated annually with an internet-based battery of neuropsychological tests. The primary outcome measure was change in episodic memory, which was operationally defined as immediate recall performance on a ModRey test following a year of intervention. The secondary outcome was the change in episodic memory over three years of followeup as well as changes in performance on neuropsychological tasks of novel object recognition and executive function over the course of three years.

Results showed that compared to placebo, subjects taking the daily multivitamin demonstrated significantly better ModRey immediate recall after a year and across the three-year follow-up. No significant effects were found on the secondary outcomes. The researchers estimated that the multivitamin intervention improved memory performance above placebo by the equivalent of 3.1 years of age-related memory change, based on a cross-sectional analysis of the association between age and performance on the ModRey test.

“When it comes to nutrition, even those individuals with the healthiest diets often fail to reach the recommended daily intake level for vitamins and nutrients. As we age, achieving that goal becomes even more important in order to protect memory and cognition, which is why CHPA is pleased to once again see promising results emerge from this clinical trial,” said Duffy MacKay, senior vice president of dietary supplements at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA; Washington, D.C.), in a statement. “These results are certainly important, as there is an urgent need to identify strategies to preserve cognitive function and reduce the burden of dementia on families and society. This clinical trial reinforces the important role supplements play in helping adults meet their nutrient needs, which is a critical part of healthy aging for the mind and body.

“At [the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.)], we have long promoted the benefits of taking daily multivitamins to fill gaps in the nutritional profiles of most people,” said James Griffiths, PhD, CRN’s senior vice president, International and Scientific Affairs, in a press release. Griffiths actually participated in another arm of the COSMOS study. You can hear about Griffith’s experience as a study participant in Episode 10 of the Nutritional Outlook Podcast.

“The results of this study show that, for older people, doing so could have a tremendous impact on quality of life,” Griffiths adds. “It literally gives people a degree of control over cognitive decline that they didn’t know they had. For many older adults, it changes the question from ‘Should I take a multivitamin?’ to ‘Why would I not?’”

A previous ancillary trial of COSMOS found that multivitamin supplementation had a significant impact on global cognitive, compared to placebo. This effect was most pronounced among subjects with a history of cardiovascular disease.

Reference

Yeung, L.K.; Alschuler, D.M.; Wall, M.; Sesso, H.D.; Manson, J.E.; Brickman, A.M.; et al. Multivitamin Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2023. Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011

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