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Taking a multivitamin could improve memory in older adults, according to a new study.

“Most older adults are worried about memory changes that occur with aging,” said Lok-Kin Yeung, PhD, one of the researchers from Columbia University. “Our study suggests that supplementation with multivitamins may be a simple and inexpensive way for older adults to slow down memory loss.”

This trial was is the second from a large-scale study called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS). Previous research also found that multivitamins improved memory.

Researchers followed about 3,500 people over the age of 60 for three years. The subjects were randomized into two groups: One that took a multivitamin and another group that took a placebo. The researchers gave the people tests to evaluate their memory.

One of the tests gave people a list of words, asking them to remember as many as possible. After a year, people on multivitamins remembered about a quarter more words compared to those who didn’t take the multivitamin. The benefits continued through the end of the three-year study span. But the research didn’t assess the mechanisms behind the results.

“We estimate that the effect of the multivitamin intervention improved memory performance above placebo by the equivalent of 3.1 years of age-related memory change,” the authors wrote.

But the vitamins didn’t seem to improve secondary factors associated with brain power that the researchers tested, like executive function and object recognition.

“Daily multivitamin supplementation, compared with placebo, improves memory in older adults,” the authors added. “Multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe and accessible approach to maintaining cognitive health in older age.”

“The findings are promising and certainly set the stage for important follow-up studies about the impact of multivitamin supplementation on cognition,” said Adam Brickman, PhD, of Columbia University.

The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.