Is a sharp mind as simple as taking a daily multivitamin?

There is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

With this in mind, any research into a possible cure is important and worthy of pursuit.

A recent study looked at the possibility of protecting older adults against cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s using something many of us take on a daily basis.

And though it’s too early to call it a cure — it definitely slowed the march of cognitive decline, even in those at highest risk…

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Do vitamin supplements benefit health outcomes?

The study was conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and involved 21,442 adults from across the United States.

Researchers focused on whether cocoa or a multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.

According to lead researcher Dr. Laura Baker of Wake Forest University, “There’s an urgent need for safe and affordable interventions to protect cognition against decline in older adults.”

Past research has suggested that the flavonols in cocoa extract may have a positive impact on cognition and that certain mineral deficiencies, which can be reversed with a multivitamin, may increase the risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

“Our study showed that although cocoa extract did not affect cognition, daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in statistically significant cognitive improvement,” Dr. Baker says.

Specifically, improvements were seen in episodic memory (being able to recall specific life events, their context and emotional value) and executive function.

Executive function is that broad set of cognitive skills and abilities that allow us to set goals, make plans, pay attention to detail and complete tasks.

In other words, it allows us to function safely and productively as independent individuals.

People most at risk benefit even more

When translated into real-life terms, the results of the study become tangible: taking a multivitamin supplement for three years translated into roughly a two-year delay in the advance of cognitive decline.

That’s two years where cognitive abilities remained stable, and dementia did not advance.

But it gets even better than that.

For study participants who had significant cardiovascular disease, the benefits were even more pronounced.

That’s good news because people with heart disease are already at higher risk for cognitive impairment and decline.

“It’s too early to recommend daily multivitamin supplementation to prevent cognitive decline,” Dr. Baker says. “While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people. Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults.”

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Mainstream medicine and vitamins

When it comes to taking vitamins and minerals to improve or maintain your health, most doctors will tell you they’re not necessary.

That may be why Dr. Baker, despite the positive results of this study, is hesitant to recommend vitamins “to prevent cognitive decline,” even though mainstream medicine has nothing better to offer.

But there are researchers like Dr. Bruce Ames who are not afraid to explain the unseen damage of a vitamin deficiency.

Dr. Ames is a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), director of their Nutrition & Metabolism Center, and a Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley. His scientific career has spanned seven decades. And at 93, he’s still going strong.

Dr. Ames argues that shortages of vitamins and minerals are not only very real and widespread but that by skimping on inadequate amounts, we’re cheating ourselves of valuable “longevity vitamins” critical to long-term maintenance — including that of the brain.

And there are more like him that realize supplementation has a role in healthcare…

A report recently released by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) reveals that not only could many medical events related to chronic conditions be avoided in the first place — but billions of dollars in U.S. healthcare costs could be slashed… including what comes out of your wallet, thanks to supplementing.

When taking multivitamins, follow this advice:

Individual vitamins can be fat-soluble or water-soluble. So take a multivitamin with a meal that includes healthy fats and drink a full glass of water.

Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on servings. It is based on the amount of nutrients in the multivitamin.

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Sources:

Daily multivitamin may improve cognition and possibly protect against decline — Eureka Alert

Effects of cocoa extract and a multivitamin on cognitive function: A randomized clinical trial — Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.