The third COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) underscores the potential of daily cocoa extract and multivitamin supplements in improving memory and slowing cognitive aging in older adults. This research included 5,000 participants, of whom 573 were subject to in-person assessments over two years, and was conducted by Mass General Brigham, the US non-profit health care research and provider.
“Cognitive decline is among the top health concerns for most older adults, and a daily supplement of multivitamins has the potential as an appealing and accessible approach to slow cognitive aging,” says lead author Chirag Vyas, instructor in investigation at the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system. According to the publication in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these findings could be significant in mitigating cognitive decline, as nearly one in four US citizens will face an elevated risk by 2060.
In-depth cognitive assessment
The initial COSMOS trial utilized in-person cognitive assessments, telephone-based assessments and web-based evaluations. Next, an in-clinic study, COSMOS-Clinic, demonstrated the benefit of multivitamins in terms of global cognition, observing a statistically significant benefit for episodic memory but no notable improvement in executive function and attention.
A meta-analysis combining data from the in-clinic study with the previous telephone-based (COSMOS-MIND) and web-based (COSMOS-Web) assessments revealed consistent and statistically significant benefits for both global cognition and episodic memory. The authors estimate that the daily multivitamin slowed global cognitive aging by the equivalent of two years when compared to a placebo.
“The meta-analysis of three separate cognition studies provides strong and consistent evidence that taking a daily multivitamin, containing more than 20 essential micronutrients, helps prevent memory loss and slow down cognitive aging,” Vyas says.
“These findings will garner attention among many older adults who are, understandably, very interested in ways to preserve brain health, as they provide evidence for the role of a daily multivitamin in supporting better cognitive aging,” Olivia Okereke, senior author of the report and director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital adds.
Questions remain about the mechanisms underlying the observed benefits and the role of factors such as baseline nutritional status. Dr. Howard Sesso, the associate director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital division of preventive medicine and co-author of the study, highlights the need to explore how a daily multivitamin may protect against memory loss and cognitive decline.
“With these three studies using different approaches for assessing cognition in COSMOS, each providing support for a daily multivitamin, it is now critical to understand the mechanisms by which a daily multivitamin may protect against memory loss and cognitive decline with a focus on nutritional status and other aging-related factors,” Sesso explains.
“For example, the modifying role of baseline nutritional status in protecting against cognitive decline has been shown for the COSMOS cocoa extract intervention. A typical multivitamin such as that tested in COSMOS contains many essential vitamins and minerals that could explain its potential benefits.”
He concludes that the finding that a daily multivitamin improved memory and slowed cognitive aging in three separate placebo-controlled studies in COSMOS is “exciting,” adding that these most recent findings support the premise of multivitamins as a “safe, accessible and affordable approach” to protecting cognitive health in older adults.
Another recently published study on healthy aging has revealed that a diet rich in plant-based proteins is associated with improved well-being, including cognition, in elderly women. The cognition-longevity axis was also highlighted as a key to holistic health in older age by the Mibelle Biochemistry R&D team. Meanwhile, FrieslandCampina Ingredients spotlighted personalized nutritional supplements that respond to the customer’s individual needs based on factors such as age as a key 2024 nutrition trend.
By Milana Nikolova