Adults who take a multivitamin daily, compared to those who take a placebo, have better memory, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers from Columbia University, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Harvard Medical School conducted a three-year study to track the cognitive effects after taking a daily multivitamin, compared to taking a placebo pill, the newspaper reported.
“Multivitamin supplementation shows promise as a safe and accessible approach to maintaining cognitive health in older adults,” the study states.
The Associated Press said researchers followed about 3,500 people aged 60 or older for three years, all randomly assigned to take the Centrum Silver multivitamin or a placebo pill.
CNN said participants had to learn 20 words through a computer program. They had three seconds to study a word on the screen before another appeared, and they were tested on the words they remembered immediately afterwards.
Adam Brickman, lead author of the study, told AP that this exam “measured the function of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls learning and memory.”
“Retested at the end of the first year, the study found that people who continued to take a daily multivitamin were able to remember, on average, nearly one more word than those who took a placebo” , reported CNN.
AP said the cognitive difference between those taking the multivitamin and the placebo pill was equivalent to “an improvement in memory equal to about three years of normal age-related change.”
The improvement was stronger for participants with a history of cardiovascular disease, Brickman told CNN.
Time said these benefits were consistent throughout the study, but did not increase or extend to improving other cognitive functions like reasoning.
A similar previous study found broader cognitive benefits for participants who took multivitamins daily as opposed to taking a placebo.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was an investigator on both studies, told Time: “I think overall we’re seeing the benefits of multivitamins go Beyond Age-Related Memory Loss in Slowing Global Cognitive Aging based on these two separate studies.
Regarding the results of the two studies, Brickman told CNN, “We’re very excited about this replication because it adds a bit more confidence in what we’re observing.”
Manson told Time, “Dietary supplements are never a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle,” adding, “However, multivitamins can be a complementary approach, particularly in their 40s and in older adults – some of whom are beginning to have nutrient absorption problems and may have less than optimal diets.