Most people make taking a multivitamin part of their daily routine.
Now, researchers from the Alzheimer's Association have reported that incorporating supplements into the diet is particularly important as we age.
Following a three-year study of more than 2,200 older adults, the scientists found that daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation resulted in a "significant" cognitive benefit. However, cocoa extract had no effect on global cognition.
"This is the first positive, large-scale, long-term study to show that multivitamin-mineral supplementation for older adults may slow cognitive ageing. While the Alzheimer's Association is encouraged by these results, we are not ready to recommend widespread use of a multivitamin supplement to reduce risk of cognitive decline in older adults," said Dr Maria C. Carrillo. "Independent confirmatory studies are needed in larger, more diverse study populations. It is critical that future treatments and preventions are effective in all populations."
In light of the findings, the researchers advised patients to talk with their health care providers about the benefits and risks of all supplements, including multivitamins.
"We envision a future where there are multiple treatments and risk reduction strategies available that address cognitive ageing and dementia in multiple ways - like heart disease and cancer - and that can be combined into powerful combination therapies... in conjunction with brain-healthy guidelines for lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity," she added.
Full study results have been published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.