COSMOS Report: Daily Multivitamin Supplement May Positively Impact Memory and Cognitive Decline

By Jim Nelson | January 19, 2024

Taking a daily multivitamin supplement may have a positive impact on memory and slow cognitive decline in seniors, according to a new report from the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital — an affiliate of Harvard Medical School — and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

In a clinical trial that that encompassed more than 21,000 American senior men and women, COSMOS has been investigating whether daily cocoa extract supplements (500 mg/day cocoa flavanols) or common multivitamins could help reduce the risk of various negative health outcomes such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and others.

The possible benefits of taking these supplements can only be ascertained by conducting a large-scale trial, so that’s what COSMOS did. The COSMOS-Mind ancillary study findings have just been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Through the end of 2020, COSMOS followed 12,666 women (aged 65 or older) and 8,776 men (60 or older) for an average of 3.6 years, making it the largest and longest randomized trial of daily cocoa extract supplementation and the largest trial of multivitamin supplementation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. And it could have major positive implications for the millions of Americans suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Cognitive decline is among the top health concerns for most older adults, and a daily supplement of multivitamins has the potential as an appealing and accessible approach to slow cognitive aging,” said first author Chirag Vyas, an instructor in investigation in the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was an estimated 6.7 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in 2023; that number could rise to 14 million by 2060.

For the first part of this study, in-person cognitive assessments were administered to 573 people. The findings revealed that daily consumption of a multivitamin had improved memory and cognition compared to a placebo, with those taking the multivitamins showing memory skills that were the equivalent of someone nearly five years younger; their cognition was found to be the same as someone who was two years younger.

“These findings will garner attention among many older adults who are, understandably, very interested in ways to preserve brain health, as they provide evidence for the role of a daily multivitamin in supporting better cognitive aging,” senior author of the report and Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at MGH Dr. Olivia Okereke said in a statement.

The multivitamin used in the study was the Centrum Silver brand — so other multivitamins may or may not have the same affect — and the study did not clarify which specific vitamins contributed to the positive results. It’s also noteworthy that 98% of study’s participants were white; results may not be generalizable to the non-white population.


Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson is the Editor at Senior Living News, an online trade publication featuring curated news and exclusive feature stories on changes, trends, and thought leaders in the senior living industry. He has been a writer and editor for 30+ years, including several years as an editor and managing editor. Jim covers the senior living sector for SeniorLivingNews.com, distributes its e-newsletter, and moderates panel discussions for the company’s HEALTHTAC events.

Related Articles

Back to top button