the brain

Prevent Disease and Lower your Risk for Early Death

article by sarene

There may be a link to daily multivitamins and slowed cognitive aging according to a recent study¹.

The 3-year COSMOS-Mind study showed that older adults taking a daily multivitamin-mineral (MVM) supplement had a statistically significant cognitive benefit. Participants’ average age was 73 and did not have dementia when the study began. The participants were divided into three groups. One group was given a placebo, one daily MVM, and the other a cocoa extract. The extract was a supplement comprised of 500 milligrams of flavonoids derived from cocoa which contains antioxidants to help with cell damage repair.

Cognitive scores were taken at the beginning of the study and each year for three years. These increased slightly in all three groups due to what is known as the “practice effect” meaning people get better at cognitive testing when done repetitively.  Overall, the group given cocoa extracts did not show any significant cognitive improvement, nor did the placebo. However, the MVM group had significantly increased scores equivalent to cognitive aging slowed by 60% or 1.8 years within the three-year span.

This study is the first to show evidence of the positive impact a daily MVM can have on aging memory decline. There is still more work to be done in identifying various components that impact the results such as participants being deficient in one or more nutrients prior to the study beginning. It does give hope of the potential cognitive improvement that would then increase the quality of life for many aging adults.


When considering an MVM, it is important to know what you are looking for. It can be a little overwhelming with all the selections available. Start by consulting with your healthcare provider. Dietary supplements may contain ingredients that will have an adverse conflict with a medication you are currently taking.

Here are some other things to look for when choosing a Daily Multi Vitamin²:

  • The MVM should have a USP verification. This comes from the US Pharmacopeial Convention which verifies that the product contains pure ingredients as they are listed on the label. To be sure they are verified you can go to USP Quality Supplements and check.
  • Check for the appropriate daily value of ingredients. As a general rule, most of the ingredients should be 100% of the daily value.
    • The exceptions are:
    • Calcium: This cannot be included at 100% or the pill would be too large to sallow.
    • Magnesium and Potassium: These are kept at lower levels to avoid drug-nutrient interactions. These need to be consumed primarily through food.
    • Vitamins A, D, E, and K: These can build up and become toxic.
  • Look for the right balance for your age and sex. A dietitian or physician can help you decide what specific nutrients you need for your age, gender and any underlying conditions. For example, children would have different needs than an aging adult or a premenopausal woman.
  • Check the macronutrients.
    • Here are some to look for:
    • Well-known  nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium
    • Thiamin, riboflavin and niacin
    • B6, B12, and folate
    • Magnesium, selenium, and zinc
    • Vitamins A (including beta carotene), E, and K
    • Vitamins D2 or D3

Important NutrientFood Source
  • Dairy products
  • Calcium-enriched plant-based milk
  • Nuts: specifically almonds
  • Cereals
  • Tofu prepared with calcium citrate
  • Orange juice
Vitamin D
  • Salmon
  • Fortified milk
  • Cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Beans and legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Canned tomato products
  • Beans and legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Dry beans
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds

While vitamins contain many important nutrients, you should also be sure to consume a well-balanced diet.

Aim for 3 servings of vegetables and 2 of fruit (1/2 cup each) every day. Make most of your grains whole and look for high-fiber foods. Then watch for further studies on MVM use and slowed cognitive decline as research continues to help us learn more about improving health and quality of life.

Original articles:

1. Effects of cocoa extract and a multivitamin on cognitive function: A … (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023.
2. 5 signs you’ve chosen the right multivitamin: Diet and nutrition: UT southwestern medical center. Diet and Nutrition | UT Southwestern Medical Center. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023.