1 Each Day? Should All Elderly Individuals Be Taking A Daily Multivitamin?

Advice to everyone over 60. take an inexpensive daily multivitamin.

Could it be that one of the largest medical and social threats to the population of advanced countries, the rapid aging of the population and the increasing number of elderly with Alzheimer’s can be prevented or at least delayed simply and easily by taking just one pill, and an inexpensive one at that?

Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people.

It is estimated that there will soon be 46 million elderly patients in the world suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

The burden on their families, nursing facilities, and governments which have to pay to house and care for these unfortunate individuals is now enormous and will become catastrophic unless some sort of mitigation can be found.

It now appears that even if it can’t be a treatment for those who already suffer from cognitive decline, there may be a way to reduce the number of people who develop the condition.

That is the preliminary information coming from a recently released study conducted for years by Wake Forest University School of Medicine in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston”

(NOTE: Brigham and Women’s is across the street from Harvard Medical School and is actually the clinical branch of the medical school. Disclaimer, I am a Harvard alumnus but I have no connection to the medical school.)

The protocols of the study were so simple they could almost be a long-term high school science project but the results could be a real game changer for doctors, the elderly, and even the government which must prepare for an ever-increasing number of mentally impaired elderly.

New Drug?

There are massive investments in the drug research community to find new treatments for elderly dementia but the only current drug costs $46,000/year and is only slightly beneficial, it isn’t a cure, it does little to change the lives of those affected.

Medicare insurance which covers about 90 percent of the elderly who would need this drug, does not cover this drug and, considering how little use it offers, it is difficult to criticize the government’s decision.

A newly FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drug, lecanemab, is yet to be priced but is expected to be very high.

Even worse, at best it will only extend patient life by about six months and, while that might be a great advance for people with some diseases such as cancer, would an extra six months of living with dementia really be that wonderful?

“Pharmaceutical companies Eisai and Biogen recently announced data for a phase 3 Alzheimer’s disease clinical trial. The results show that lecanemab, an anti-amyloid antibody, slowed the rate of cognitive decline by 27% in an 18-month study involving participants experiencing the early stage of Alzheimer’s. The incidence of adverse events was 21.3% for those who received lecanemab and 9.3% for those who received a placebo. About 25% of the U.S. participants in this study were Hispanic and African American.” [NIH]

Personally, I would pass.

Daily Multivitamin Study Protocol

The name of the overall study is COSMOS-Mind (Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study of the Mind)

The researchers began by selecting 2262 individuals with an average age of 73 (3 years ago at the start of the study). Most were non-Hispanic White, nearly 90%, and 60% were women.

After an initial baseline cognitive study was completed the group was randomly divided into three groups.

One received a multivitamin to take every day, nothing special, just an over-the-counter type of vitamin and mineral supplement.

Another third was given a COCOA extract which was rich in flavonoids which has been thought to improve brain activity in the elderly (possibly confusing this with the idea that cocoa butter/oil can provide energy to Alzheimer’s brain cells which stop working properly because glucose, the body’s main energy source, can’t enter the cells while the cocoa oil can.)

The third portion of the group were given a secret medication which was simply a placebo or non-active supplement which does nothing.

A placebo is necessary in any scientific biological study to ensure that some other factor such as simply being part of a study and getting more attention because of that, could be the cause of any large change.

Participants were then given simple cognitive evaluations during telephone interviews and the results tabulated.

Cocoa Extract Results

It turned out to the surprise of many that the cocoa extract did not appear to have any effect, none at all, producing the same numbers as the placebo group.

(NOTE, that would not show anything either positive or negative about Dr Mary Newport, MD’s theory that coconut oil could improve Alzheimer’s patients mental functionality by providing nutrition to the brain cells. See below for more details on that.)

This study “Effects of cocoa extract and a multivitamin on cognitive function: A randomized clinical trial” was published in the Alzheimer’s Journal, a peer-reviewed scientific journal. [Alz-Journals]

cocoa bean. Image by gate74 from Pixabay
Cocoa beans. Image by gate74 from Pixabay

Multivitamin Results

Briefly, multivitamins daily reduced the occurrence of dementia.

(“Cocoa extract had no effect on global cognition (mean z-score = 0.03, 95% CI: -0.02 to 0.08; P = .28). Daily MVM supplementation, relative to placebo, resulted in a statistically significant benefit on global cognition (mean z = 0.07, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.12; P = .007), and this effect was most pronounced in participants with a history of cardiovascular disease (no history: 0.06, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.11; history: 0.14, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.31; interaction, nominal P = .01).

Multivitamin-mineral benefits were also observed for memory and executive function. The cocoa extract by MVM group interaction was not significant for any of the cognitive composites.”)

Further information on Alzheimer’s

Dr Mary Newport, MD based her ideas on tests she conducted on her own husband.

Coconut oil for Alzheimer’s – separating fact from fiction

by John McCormick