The Daily Telegraph
Daily dose of vitamins may slow decline of the mind
Supplements could give elderly an extra two years of healthy brain function, three-year study shows
TAKING a daily multivitamin tablet could keep the brain sharp for an extra two years, research suggests.
The study of more than 2,000 pensioners found that those taking the supplements for three years saw a significant reduction in cognitive decline.
Overall, the US research said the pills appeared to slow the decline by about 60 per cent – equating to 1.8 years. The findings raise hopes that vitamins could stave off dementia.
Cognitive decline can be a precursor or sign of Alzheimer’s disease, but this is not always the case. Experts said the results were the first positive, largescale, long-term study to show that multivitamin-mineral supplementation for older adults may slow cognitive decline.
Until now, evidence about the impact of multivitamins on the brain was limited, with most major trials suggesting they have little impact. It is also hard to fully account for the fact that those taking them may be more likely to have other advantages.
Researchers stressed that more studies are needed before any recommendations are made.
There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in Britain and the number is projected to rise to 1.6million people by 2040. Laura Baker, study investigator professor, said: “There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults.”
The research was part of a wider trial by Brigham and Women’s Hospital involving more than 21,000 men and women across the United States.
Scientists 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 ailments.
Typically, a daily multivitamin will contain vitamins A, C, D, E and K as well as a range of B vitamins and nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
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
‘There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable help to protect cognition against decline in older adults’
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 per cent 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 said: “It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline. Additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people.”