Are multi-vitamins beneficial to your brain health?

We start this month’s blog with an article from the New Scientist (NS) that has attracted a great deal of attention.

For many years it has been generally accepted amongst the scientific community that taking multi-vitamins had little if any benefit on your brain health. However, the New Scientist reports on a study by Laura Baker et al. from Wake Forest University in North Carolina that has kicked our previous views firmly into touch.

Baker undertook a three-year randomised trial covering just over 2200 people in the US between the ages of 65 and 100. The group were split into three; one group was given a pill containing flavanol (compounds found in chocolate and thought to be beneficial to health, the second group was given a multi-vitamin and mineral pill, and the third a placebo.

The groups were followed up for three years and then retested.

After three years, those who took the multi-vitamin and mineral tablet had a cognitive age that was 1.8 years younger than those who took the placebo. However, the flavanol group showed no such improvement.

The benefits experienced by the multi-vitamin group were also noted to be greater in those suffering from heart or vascular disease.

Previous studies failed to find any benefit; however, most were not randomised and were of poor quality. This was a randomised well, structured study. It is unknown which aspect of the multi vitamin or mineral tablets led to the improvement; however, this study is a significant development and now needs to be replicated in more detailed studies.

So, is chocolate good for your brain?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like chocolate boosts your brain health; however, no need to ditch it yet. Everything in moderation.

Paul Zollinger-Read CBE

Group Medical Director 

The views expressed in the blog are my own personal views and are not intended as medical advice.

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