Taking a multivitamin once a day could give you a mental boost as you get older. Based on data from more than 3,500 adults ages 60 and up, researchers from Columbia University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that a daily nutritional supplement could enhance memory on average by the equivalent of about three years — meaning vitamin-takers had a memory typical of a person three years younger.

After one year, participants using multivitamin supplements performed significantly better on memory tests compared with those taking a placebo “dummy” pill, according to a study published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That benefit was maintained over three years of follow-up.

“Multivitamins basically prevented three years of age-related memory loss,” says study co-leader JoAnn Manson, MD, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Multivitamins are a safe, accessible, and affordable approach to protecting cognitive health,” Dr. Manson says.

Multivitamins Are No Substitute for Healthy Diet and Exercise

Results from this analysis confirmed an earlier study co-led by Manson linking daily multivitamins to the slowing of cognitive decline. In that research, published last September in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, investigators tested more than 2,200 older adults for three years and discovered that daily multivitamin use was associated with a 60 percent slowing of cognitive aging compared with placebo.

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