Multivitamins and memory study significant, says CRN

Daily multivitamin supplementation slowed decline of memory performance by the equivalent of three years of age-related memory change

MAY  25, 2023 

WASHINGTON – The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today responded to the latest results from the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS). New findings from an ancillary study known as COSMOS-Web—conducted by Columbia University, in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard Medical School)—were published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

In COSMOS-Web, which involved 3,562 older adults, participants were randomly assigned to receive a daily multivitamin supplement or a placebo. They were evaluated annually using online neuropsychological tests for three years. Researchers sought to measure whether multivitamin supplementation would preserve participants' ability to remember information they had recently learned, an important ability particularly vulnerable to cognitive aging. 


The findings indicated that people who took daily multivitamins performed significantly better over time in remembering recent information compared to those who received the placebo. This improvement was seen after one year and sustained over three years. When researchers examined the impact on memory, they estimated that the multivitamins slowed down the memory decline that usually happens with age by 3.1 years.  

“At CRN, we have long promoted the benefits of taking daily multivitamins to fill gaps in the nutritional profiles of most people,” said James Griffiths, Ph.D, CRN’s Senior Vice President, International and Scientific Affairs, who participated in another arm of the COSMOS study. “The results of this study show that, for older people, doing so could have a tremendous impact on quality of life. It literally gives people a degree of control over cognitive decline that they didn’t know they had. For many older adults, it changes the question from ‘Should I take a multivitamin?’ to ‘Why would I not?’” 

The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—an affiliate of Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)—and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle, WA) is a clinical trial that randomized 21,442 men and women across the United States. The study has investigated whether taking daily cocoa extract supplements containing 500 mg/day cocoa flavanols and/or a common multivitamin reduces the risk for developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other important health outcomes. 

Steve Mister, President & CEO of CRN, added, “As a trade association, we’re proud that two of our members, Haleon and Mars Edge, helped support this important research. Science continues to unlock the benefits of these and other supplements, demonstrating, in this case, a profound improvement in the lives of those taking them.”  

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 200 dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.