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Short-term memory – such as remembering a list of items or numbers shortly after hearing them – is particularly vulnerable as we age. But a new study shows that multivitamin/multimineral supplementation bolsters short-term memory in older adults, especially those with cardiovascular disease.

The study involved more than 3,500 older adults (average age, 71 years) enrolled in the COSMOS trial. About half of the participants took a daily multivitamin/multimineral supplement for three years, and the other half took a placebo. All participants completed a battery of cognitive tests at the one-, two-, and three-year points.

The tests revealed that those who took the supplement performed better on short-term memory tests than those who took the placebo, an effect that endured over the entire three-year study. Participants with cardiovascular disease scored lower on memory tests initially, but after taking the multivitamin/multimineral supplements for a year, their memory scores improved, reaching a level comparable to those without cardiovascular disease.

These findings suggest that multivitamin/multimineral supplementation benefits short-term memory in older adults. The study’s authors proposed that the cognitive effects of multivitamin/multimineral intervention may occur by activating vitamin and mineral receptors in the hippocampus, given its prominent role in recall memory. Learn how vitamins and minerals influence other aspects of aging in this episode featuring Dr. Bruce Ames.

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