Aerobic-resistance exercises and computerized cognitive training improved brain power in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. But add vitamin D into the mix — thought to be linked with better cognition — and it didn’t have an effect on brain power, a new study showed.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open.
Researchers studied 175 people between 65 and 84 years old who had mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. They were part of the trial from 2016 to 2020.
People were placed into different groups for 20 weeks:
- Group 1: Received exercise, cognitive training and vitamin D (a 10,000 IU dose three times a week).
- Group 2: Received exercise, cognitive training and placebo vitamins
- Group 3: Received exercise, sham cognitive training and real vitamins
- Group 4: Received exercise, sham cognitive training and placebo vitamins
- Group 5: The control group received balance-toning exercise, sham cognitive training and placebo vitamins
Researchers measured cognition using the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale Cognitive 13 (ADAS-Cog-13) and the Plus variant scales. The ADAS-Cog-13 includes 13 cognitive tests while the Plus variant is considered more sensitive to executive function and has five extra tests.
Six months later, the people in groups 1 to 4 had better cognitive scores on the ADAS-Cog-13 with a mean 1.79 point increase compared to group 5. People in groups 1 and 2 had a mean 1.45-point improvement. Group 1 — who had it all, or the trifecta of interventions, so to say— saw the biggest improvements with a 2.64-point increase. Changes on the Plus variant scale weren’t really significant, the authors said.
The authors say that the triple whammy of exercise, cognitive training and vitamin D may improve brain power and could delay dementia. While Vitamin D alone didn’t seem to have any superpowers in this trial, there has been some evidence that not having enough in your body is linked to cognitive decline.