Industry stakeholders laud significant effects seen in multivitamin/memory study

A new study has reiterated the role multivitamins can play in helping seniors maintain memory function.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

May 26, 2023

4 Min Read
Industry stakeholders laud significant effects seen in multivitamin/memory study

Consistent multivitamin use can help preserve memory function for healthy older adults, a new large, long-term study has concluded.

The new research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study is a subset of a larger effort called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamins Outcomes Study (COSMOS).

The initial research, which compared the effects of cocoa flavanol supplementation with a multivitamin, found the cocoa ingredient significantly improved measures of cardiovascular health. Similar improvements were not observed within the multivitamin arm.

Ancillary study part of relatively massive trial

The overall study recruited more than 21,000 participants and looked at other effects beyond cardiovascular health, including stroke, cancer, cognitive health and other important health outcomes.

This ancillary study analyzed data from 3,562 healthy older adults who were randomly assigned to the multivitamin or a placebo. Along with the large sample size, the study was significant because of its long duration—3 years.

For the multivitamin intervention, the study used Centrum Silver, which bears claims of “supports memory and cognition.” 

The product is formulated with a full suite of vitamins and minerals and contains 250 micrograms (mcg) of lutein and 300 mcg of lycopene as well.

Related:Memory Supplement Marketers Settle FTC Case for $150M

The primary outcome was a change in episodic memory after one year. This was measured with immediate recall performance on the ModRey test, a relatively new test being used by cognition and healthy aging researchers.

Secondary measures were performance on the test at the three-year mark as well as changes in performance on novel object recognition and executive function tests.

Multivitamin group turned back the memory clock

The researchers found the multivitamin group performed significantly better on the ModRey test at one year and maintained that advantage at the conclusion of the study. No effects between the groups were observed on the executive function and novel object recognition tests.

Given that memory naturally declines over time, the researchers said the effects of the multivitamin intervention were like turning back the clock three years in memory performance.

This was the second ancillary study under the COSMOS umbrella that found a positive effect for a multivitamin intervention in preserving memory function in older adults. The first ancillary study was called COSMOS-Mind, and its results were first reported in September 2022.

Trade groups celebrate results

Duffy MacKay, senior vice president of supplements for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), said multivitamin use is important for people of all ages, as the average American diet does not fill all nutrient gaps.

That’s especially true for older consumers, he said.

“As we age, achieving that goal becomes even more important in order to protect memory and cognition, which is why CHPA is pleased to once again see promising results emerge from this clinical trial,” MacKay said.

James (“Jim”) Griffiths, Ph.D., senior vice president of international and scientific affairs for the Counsel for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), was among the COSMOS-Mind trial participants. He said this latest research offers further validation for the wide-ranging benefits of multivitamins.

“CRN has always recognized the importance of multivitamins is to fill nutrient gaps and to ensure the public gets the recommended levels of nutrients essential to everyday life,” Griffiths said. “This study is another exciting example of the ever-growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of multivitamins on both physical health and cognitive function.”

Patchwork quilt of corroborating research

As is common with many nutritional interventions, the trial’s results have been reflected by some, but not all recent research. 

For example, a recent trial that also featured carotenoids and vitamin E as part of its intervention (along with omega-3s) found memory improvements for a cohort of older adults with normal cognition. That research was first published in late 2021 in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

However, another study published in 2022 in the journal Nutrients found no benefit for memory or other cognitive measures for a multivitamin supplement that also included Bacopa monnieri and Ginkgo biloba extracts.

As always, it’s difficult to draw conclusions when the study materials differ significantly. So, it could be a matter of additional research to pin down whether the full suite of vitamins and minerals—plus the carotenoid components—are needed to achieve the effects observed in the most recent COSMOS ancillary study.

About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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