Can Taking A Multivitamin Help Prevent Memory Loss? What The Experts Say

At the start of each day, maybe you reach for a multivitamin as a complement to your regular medications or overall health routine. For many people, the appeal of a multivitamin is the idea that it provides a much-needed dose of essential vitamins and minerals that a person may not be getting through their daily diet.

However, the research is somewhat conflicting as to whether multivitamins truly have an impact on our health. According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, taking a multivitamin may have benefits for certain individuals, such as those who are pregnant or adults who struggle to absorb vitamin B12. However, when it comes to overall disease prevention in healthy adults, there is little evidence to support these claims. Therefore, a daily multivitamin may not be necessary for all.

So, does this mean there are no benefits whatsoever in taking a multivitamin? Not necessarily. Researchers from a 2023 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that taking a multivitamin on a daily basis may stave off as much as three years' worth of memory loss in older adults.

Multivitamins may slow the progression of memory changes

Among more than 3,500 older adults, those who received the intervention were given a Centrum Silver multivitamin each day, while others were issued a placebo. Every year for three years, the participants took online neuropsychological tests to evaluate cognitive ability. 

The research findings showed that those who had taken the supplement demonstrated greater immediate memory recall abilities than those who were given the placebo. These results remained true at the one-year mark as well as across the study period as a whole. Memory changes are considered normal as we age, but the researchers determined that taking a multivitamin seemed to reduce the natural progression of memory loss by an average of 3.1 years compared to participants who had not taken a vitamin. 

While the study utilized the multivitamin brand Centrum Silver, co-leader of the research JoAnn Manson told The Washington Post that they expect any high-quality vitamin to provide the same benefits.

Complement multivitamins with healthy habits

Although the research findings may seem promising, the study team emphasized that a multivitamin is not an all-in-one solution. "It's important to highlight that a multivitamin will never be a substitute for a healthy diet," Manson told NPR. "But it may be a complementary approach or strategy for maintaining cognitive health among older adults." In other words, keep on eating those nutrient-rich leafy greens, fatty fish, and other memory-boosting foods! Additionally, medical experts encourage older adults to take a more holistic approach to their health by also prioritizing sleep, mental health, and exercise. 

Moving forward, the research team highlights the need for additional studies regarding the effects of multivitamins on memory with a more representative sample size across race, ethnicity, educational background, socioeconomic status, and more (via The Washington Post). 

So, while a daily multivitamin may not be the end-all-be-all answer to memory loss, it may be one more tool we can add to our toolbox to potentially benefit us later in life.