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Nutritional Supplements Enhances Cognitive Function in the Elderly

Ninety-six apparently healthy Canadians older than 65 years of age (mean age, 75 years) were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, a nutritional supplement containing modest doses of vitamins and trace minerals or a placebo for 12 months.

The supplement provided daily: vitamin A (400 retinol equivalents), beta-carotene (16mg), thiamine (2.2mg), riboflavin (1.5mg), niacin (16mg), vitamin B6 (3mg), folic acid (400mcg), vitamin B12 (4mcg), vitamin C (80mg), vitamin D (4mcg), vitamin E (44mg), iron (16mg), zinc (14mg), copper (1.4mg) selenium (20mcg), iodine (0.2mg), calcium (200mg) and magnesium (100mg). The placebo contained calcium (200mg) and magnesium (100mg).

Compared with placebo, the supplement produced significant improvement in 6 of 7 tests of memory, abstract thinking, problems-solving ability and attention (p<0.001 to p<0.05)


This study showed that supplementation with modest amounts of vitamins and trace minerals can improve cognitive function in healthy elderly individuals. Nutritional status tends to decline with advancing age, because of factors such as poor dentition, economic hardship, greater difficulty shopping for fresh produce, age-related malabsorption, and use of medications that interfere with absorption or utilization of nutrients. In addition to improving mental function, supplementing with a broad-spectrum nutritional formula has been shown to improve immune function and to reduce the incidence of infections in the elderly.

Ranjit Kumar Chandra. Effect of vitamin and trace-element supplementation on cognitive function in elderly subjects.

Reference: Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, July 2002: Literature Review & Commentary (Page 25)

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