The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), a nationwide randomized experiment spearheaded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Columbia University researchers, reveals that daily intake of multivitamin supplements enhances memory and decelerates cognitive decline among older adults.
COSMOS’s second notable study discovered that those participants randomized to receive a daily multivitamin supplement exhibited memory improvements compared to the placebo group.
The COSMOS-Web study, encompassing over 3,500 participants aged 60 and above, had participants either consuming multivitamins or a placebo and engaging in annual cognitive evaluations for three years. Participants who consumed multivitamins demonstrated a substantial memory enhancement, which equated to a 3.1-year reversal of cognitive aging when compared to the placebo group. Participants with a history of cardiovascular disease showed the most significant benefits. These results confirm the findings from another COSMOS study, COSMOS-Mind, which linked daily multivitamin supplementation to a 60% reduction in overall cognitive aging.
Randomized clinical trials have not found many effective strategies to enhance memory or slow cognitive decline among older adults. Nutritional interventions could play a vital role because optimal brain health requires several nutrients, and deficiencies in any of these nutrients might hasten cognitive decline. The COSMOS study, a large-scale nationwide randomized trial conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, tested multivitamin supplementation’s effects on cognitive function through two separate clinical trials, COSMOS-Web and COSMOS-Mind.
Researchers from Brigham and Columbia University reported in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on May 24 that daily multivitamin supplements, as opposed to placebo, improved memory among participants. This is the second study from COSMOS, along with the earlier published COSMOS-Mind, to report a memory function improvement among those taking a multivitamin.
Co-author JoAnn Manson, MD, chief of Brigham’s Division of Preventive Medicine, notes the exceptional results of two separate studies in the COSMOS randomized trial that show daily multivitamin intake improving memory and decelerating cognitive decline, indicating the potential of multivitamin supplementation as a safe, accessible, and affordable method to safeguard cognitive health in older adults.
Howard Sesso, ScD, associate director of Brigham’s Division of Preventive Medicine, stresses the need to understand how a daily multivitamin may defend against memory loss and cognitive decline and whether specific subgroups based on nutritional status or other factors may benefit more or less.
The newly published COSMOS-Web trial involved more than 3,500 participants aged 60 and over, who completed unique web-based evaluations of memory and cognition annually for three years. Participants randomized to multivitamin supplementation performed significantly better on memory tests after 1 year, with benefits persisting throughout the 3 years of follow-up. The researchers estimated that the multivitamin intervention improved memory performance equivalent to 3.1 years compared to the placebo group. Interestingly, both COSMOS cognitive studies showed the participants who benefitted the most might be those with a history of cardiovascular disease.
Adam Brickman, PhD, who co-led the COSMOS-Web study with Lok-Kin Yeung, PhD, at Columbia University, commented on the study’s innovative approach of using internet-based tests for cognitive outcome assessment. They suggest that multivitamin supplementation may be an easy and inexpensive way for older adults to slow memory loss.
Findings from COSMOS-Web, a collaboration between Brigham and Columbia University, reaffirm earlier results from COSMOS-Mind connecting daily multivitamin intake to a slowdown of cognitive decline. The authors note that although COSMOS-Web study provides evidence of cognitive benefits from multivitamin supplementation, further research is needed to identify the specific nutrients that contribute most to this benefit and the underlying mechanisms involved. Additionally, research is needed to determine whether these findings are applicable to a more diverse study population with lower educational levels and socioeconomic status.
For more details on this research, see Major Study Finds Daily Multivitamin Improves Memory in Older Adults.
Reference: “Multivitamin supplementation improves memory in older adults: A randomized clinical trial” by Lok-Kin Yeung, Daniel M. Alschuler, Melanie Wall, Heike Luttmann-Gibson, Trisha Copeland, Christiane Hale, Richard P. Sloan, Howard D. Sesso, JoAnn E. Manson and Adam M. Brickman, 24 May 2023, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011.
Authors: Lok-Kin Yeung (Columbia), Daniel M. Alschuler (New York State Psychiatric Institute), Melanie Wall (Columbia), Heike Luttmann-Gibson (Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard), Trisha Copeland (Brigham and Women’s/Harvard), Richard P. Sloan (Columbia), Howard D. Sesso (Brigham and Women’s/Harvard), JoAnn E. Manson (Brigham and Women’s/Harvard) and Adam M. Brickman (Columbia).
Disclosures: Howard D. Sesso additionally reported receiving investigator-initiated grants from Pure Encapsulations and Pfizer Inc., and honoraria and/or travel for lectures from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, BASF, NIH, and the American Society of Nutrition during the study.
Funding: The COSMOS-Web was funded by investigator-initiated grants from Mars Edge, a segment of Mars Inc., and the National Institutes of Health (AG050657, AG071611, EY025623, and HL157665). Pfizer, Inc Consumer Healthcare (now Haleon) donated the multivitamin and placebo tablets and packaging.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Multivitamin Supplements
What was the main finding of the COSMOS study?
The main finding of the COSMOS study was that daily intake of multivitamin supplements enhances memory and slows cognitive decline in older adults.
Who conducted the COSMOS study?
The COSMOS study was conducted by researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Columbia University.
How many participants were involved in the COSMOS-Web study?
The COSMOS-Web study involved over 3,500 participants aged 60 and above.
What were the major benefits observed in the participants of the COSMOS study?
The major benefits observed in the participants of the COSMOS study were an improvement in memory function and a slowdown in cognitive decline. Participants with a history of cardiovascular disease showed the most significant benefits.
What is the significance of the COSMOS study?
The COSMOS study is significant as it suggests that multivitamin supplementation could be a simple, accessible, and affordable method to safeguard cognitive health in older adults.
Are further studies needed after the COSMOS study?
Yes, further research is needed to identify the specific nutrients contributing to cognitive benefits, the underlying mechanisms involved, and whether these findings are applicable to a more diverse study population with lower educational levels and socioeconomic status.
More about Multivitamin Supplements
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – Research paper on multivitamin supplementation improving memory in older adults.
- [Major Study Finds Daily Multivitamin Improves Memory in Older Adults](insert URL) – Additional information on the study’s findings.
- [Brigham and Women’s Hospital](insert URL) – Website of the hospital involved in the COSMOS study.
- [Columbia University](insert URL) – Website of the university involved in the COSMOS study.