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Does Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation Help Cognitive Function in Men? FREE

[+] Article and Author Information

The full report is titled “Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Function in Men. A Randomized Trial.” It is in the 17 December 2013 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 159, pages 806-814). The authors are F. Grodstein, J. O’Brien, J.H. Kang, R. Dushkes, N.R. Cook, O. Okereke, J.E. Manson, R.J. Glynn, J.E. Buring, J.M. Gaziano, and H.D. Sesso.


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Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(12):I-24. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-12-201312170-00002
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

The risk for Alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia increases with age, and there is great interest in finding ways to prevent these devastating conditions. Some studies have suggested that the overall diet or specific nutrients in the diet might play a role in preserving cognitive performance with age. However, others have not shown such an effect. Currently, many people take a daily multivitamin in the hope that this may prevent dementia.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see if there was a difference in performance over time on tests of cognitive function in people who took a daily multivitamin compared with those who took a placebo pill. These tests assess memory and have been shown to predict the risk for dementia at a later time.

Who was studied?

Male physicians aged 65 years or older who had been volunteers in a large randomized clinical trial testing the effects of taking vitamin supplements on the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other important end points.

How was the study done?

Study participants who were taking a daily multivitamin or placebo were administered several tests of cognitive function repeatedly during long-term follow-up, and an overall score was computed from those test results at each time point. The study participants did not know if they were receiving the multivitamin or a placebo.

What did the researchers find?

The cognitive test scores did not differ between the 2 groups at any of the time points studied.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study looked at test performance but not at the actual development of dementia. The participants, given that they were physicians, had all achieved a high level of education, and some studies suggest that people with a high level of education may be less likely to develop dementia than those with less education. On average, these physicians had good nutritional status, and it may be that a beneficial effect of multivitamins on cognitive function would be seen in only those with greater nutritional inadequacy.

What are the implications of the study?

Patients who are taking a daily multivitamin should understand that doing so may not help prevent dementia; however, they may experience other health benefits previously demonstrated in this trial.

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