March 2024

Do Multivitamins Benefit Cognitive Function?

There’s a lot of buzz around a recent multivitamin study – you’ve likely seen headlines claiming a daily multivitamin reduces memory loss. Be prepared to answer questions about this.

Results from 3 substudies of the COSMOS (COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study) trial suggest that taking a specific daily multivitamin (Centrum Silver) for 2 to 3 years slows memory loss and cognitive decline in generally healthy older adults when compared with placebo. While these findings are getting a lot of attention, explain to patients that the improvements in memory were small, so it’s not clear if these benefits are clinically significant. And evidence from a previous study following older adults for 12 years suggests that taking a similar daily multivitamin doesn’t improve memory or cognitive function.

The overall evidence on this remains mixed. It’s possible that the conflicting data is related to different product formulations. For example, the Centrum Silver product used in the most recent study contains lutein and lycopene, while the product used in earlier research doesn’t.

If patients still want to take a daily multivitamin, there’s no reason to persuade them otherwise – they’re typically well-tolerated. But help manage their expectations about the potential benefits, and as always, guide them toward quality products.

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