The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study from Columbia University that tested the effect of taking a daily multivitamin on a person’s memory.
More than 3,500 participants received either a multivitamin or a placebo every day for three years. The men and women who got the vitamins did significantly better on a follow-up memory test. The test consisted of remembering a list of words immediately after reading the list.
The effect was not huge: the researchers estimate that the multivitamin group likely improved their memory by a little over three years compared to the group not getting a vitamin. The study points out that neither the control group nor the test group showed memory decline.
In particular, the nutrients included in the multivitamin tablets taken by participants included vitamins A, D3, B12, thiamin and riboflavin (which are B vitamins), and the mineral manganese, all in recommended dosages.
The main takeaway is that multivitamins, along with other proven habits, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. The other proven strategies include exercise, in-person conversations with others and a heart-healthy diet.
Combining multivitamins with other healthy habits increases your chance of keeping your mind sharp as you age.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.