The concept behind taking a daily multivitamin is pretty straightforward. Your body needs a whole slew of different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in order to function at its best day after day, yet most people don’t consume enough of these must-have raw materials through food. Taking a daily multivitamin can help fill any potential gaps in your diet.
Falling short on key nutrients can have far-ranging consequences. For example, missing out on vitamin D can lead to declines in bone health, while being low in vitamin B12 affects nerve and muscle function. Thankfully, research has already established that taking a daily multivitamin moves the needle when it comes to nutrient status—and now, scientists are exploring what the ROI of that looks like long-term. In fact, research recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that sticking to your multi routine can keep your cognition sharp as you age.
Interested in better understanding the relationship between taking a multivitamin and cognitive health, the scientists behind this recent research took a two-pronged approach.
First, they divided a group of almost 600 adults aged 60 and over into two groups. Both groups completed initial cognitive assessments, then one took a placebo and the other took a multivitamin/multimineral supplement daily for two years. The researchers then administered another round of cognitive tests—and found that the daily multi contributed to a “modest benefit” for cognitive performance, particularly when it comes to episodic memory. (Episodic memory is your ability to recall basic facts about your everyday life, like what you did for your birthday five years ago.)
Second, the researchers analyzed the data of thousands of adults over age 60 to suss out any bigger-picture relationships between daily multivitamin use and cognitive health over time. What did they find? “Clear evidence of multivitamin/multimineral benefits on global cognition and episodic memory,” the study authors wrote. (Global cognition refers to overall cognitive functioning in daily life.)
The benefits were so significant, the researchers found, that the magnitude of their effect “was equivalent to reducing cognitive aging by two years,” they said.
The Bottom Line
Of course, maintaining brain health—especially later in life—requires more than simply remembering to take your multivitamin. As with anything, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors influence how your noggin ages.
On the list of helpful tactics: moving your body regularly, following a balanced, whole-foods diet like the Mediterranean diet, making a true effort to manage stress, and connecting with other people and the world around you.
As for your supplement routine, make sure a multivitamin is front and center! Your best move here is to check in with a nutritionist who can help you pick the optimal multi for your needs. If you want to get searching for the perfect match on your own, here are four factors to consider before adding a multivitamin to your cart, plus five innovative new multis to explore.