Can Centrum Silver Improve Memory in Older Adults? New Study Shows Promise

brain image made out of pills

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Key Takeaways

  • A recent study found that older adults who took the daily multivitamin supplement Centrum Silver had improved cognition and memory.
  • The researchers estimated that taking the multivitamin daily slowed cognitive decline by 1.8 years. 
  • More research is needed before the widespread use of multivitamin supplements by older adults is recommended to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

According to a new study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, there’s a simple, low-cost way to improve cognition and memory in older adults—and it’s something that many people might already be doing.

For one part of the study, the participants were put into two groups: one took a common brand of multivitamin called Centrum Silver daily for three years and the other took a placebo pill.

The findings showed improved scores in overall cognition, memory, and executive function in the people who took Centrum Silver compared to the people who took the placebo.

The researchers estimated that taking the multivitamin daily for three years translated to a 60% slowing of cognitive decline—about 1.8 years.

“Three years of multivitamin supplementation did improve cognitive function,” Laura Baker, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, told Verywell. “People with cardiovascular disease appeared to have benefited the most from the multivitamin.”

Over 2,200 adults aged 65 and older enrolled in the COSMOS-Mind trial took part in the study, which was done over three years. The average age of the participants was 73 years old, 60% were women, and 89% were White. None of the participants had a history of stroke or heart attack at the start of the trial.

While the findings were interesting, the researchers caution that they would need to be validated by additional studies before being used to make broad health recommendations.

“We are excited about our findings and hope that they will, one day, have high public health implications given their accessibility, safety, and low cost,” said Baker. “But we still have more work to do in a larger and more diverse group of people.”

Baker said the study was the first to provide insight on multivitamins and the benefits they may have on cognitive health.

Laura Baker, PhD

We are excited about our findings and hope that they will, one day, have high public health implications given their accessibility, safety, and low cost, but we still have more work to do in a larger and more diverse group of people.

— Laura Baker, PhD

Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a professor at the Tufts Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told Verywell that the study provides evidence that may help us find easy ways to support cognitive function in older adults—especially since “roughly two out of every three Americans experience some level of cognitive impairment around the age of 70.”

Should I Take a Multivitamin for My Brain?

The results from the COSMOS-Mind study are encouraging and suggest that multivitamins may prevent cognitive decline in older adults and overall support healthy aging, but experts say that the study alone is not enough to make multivitamin supplement recommendations. 

“We are not ready to make a widespread recommendation,” said Baker. “We still have more work to do to ensure that our results are generalizable to other groups, to understand the mechanisms, and to evaluate safety in older adults with cardiovascular disease.”

Ideally, Baker said that “we also need to follow our participants for a longer period of time—more than three years—which we were not funded to do.”

Why Would Multivitamins Help Cognitive Function?

While more research is needed to address why multivitamins may improve cognitive function in older adults, Baker hypothesized a couple of factors that could be involved.

One is the overall quality of our food and the fact that many older Americans have sub-optimal nutrition.

Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD

When diet intake alone does not meet nutritional needs, a multivitamin containing these essential micronutrients, like Centrum Silver, can help to fill dietary gaps and support health and well-being.

— Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD

Poor nutrition is the result of several factors, including the high amounts of processed foods in our diets, unhealthy dietary eating patterns in our culture, and a high prevalence of medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

All of these factors affect the availability of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that we get from the food that we eat.

“Multivitamins provide essential micronutrients and minerals that are critical for body and brain health,” said Baker. “The physiological processes on which we depend for normal function require these essential micronutrients and minerals for proper function.”

Blumberg added that vitamins and minerals also have critical biochemical roles that support normal, physiological functioning of the body, including the health of the brain

“When diet intake alone does not meet nutritional needs, a multivitamin containing these essential micronutrients, like Centrum Silver, can help to fill dietary gaps and support health and well-being,” said Blumberg.

Could Other Supplements Help?

During the trial, Baker and her colleagues also studied the effects of taking cocoa extract on memory loss and cognitive decline, as previous research had suggested there could be a link.

As a dietary supplement, cocoa extra is rich in compounds called flavanols that are naturally found in teas, red wine, apples, cherries, and pears.

According to Baker, the participants in their study who consumed capsules of cocoa extract did not show much benefit—a finding at odds with other studies that have suggested the supplement may help with cognition and thinking.

What’s Next?

A daily multivitamin could have a role in healthy aging, but there are still many questions from the recent study that need to be answered. For one, as most of the participants were women and White, it’s not clear whether the findings would also apply to other groups.

While the study on its own is not enough to validate that multivitamins can improve cognitive health and memory in older adults, JoAnn Manson, MD, the leader of the COSMOS trial and Chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told Verywell that it's a step in the right direction. 

“There’s a pressing need for safe, accessible, and affordable options for slowing memory loss and cognitive aging in older adults,” said Manson. “If these findings can be replicated, this intervention could have major public health and societal implications.”

What This Means For You

A new study suggests there’s a promising link between taking a daily multivitamin and cognitive function for older adults, but we still need more research before any broad recommendations would be made.

If you’re concerned that you might not be getting optimal nutrition, talk to your provider. It might be safe and helpful for you to try taking a multivitamin.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Baker LD, Manson JE, Rapp SR, et al. Effects of cocoa extract and a multivitamin on cognitive function: a randomized clinical trialAlzheimers Dement. Published online September 14, 2022. doi:10.1002/alz.12767

  2. Pa J, Gazzaley A. Flavanol-rich food for thoughtNat Neurosci. 2014;17(12):1624-1625. doi:10.1038/nn.3876

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain?.

  4. Martín MA, Goya L, de Pascual-Teresa S. Effect of cocoa and cocoa products on cognitive performance in young adultsNutrients. 2020;12(12):3691. doi:10.3390/nu12123691

By Alyssa Hui
Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. She was the 2020 recipient of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Jack Shelley Award.