Vitamins and other dietary supplements have been getting a lot of bad press recently, but a new study from France suggests that daily supplementation with a vitamin and mineral antioxidant formulation may be good for the brain. In this study, more than 4,000 French subjects between 45 and 60 years of age were randomized to receive either a daily nutritional supplement or a placebo. The supplement contained 120 mg of vitamin C, 6 mg of beta carotene, 30 mg of vitamin E, 100 micrograms of selenium and 20 mg of zinc. The subjects in the study took their daily pill for roughly eight years and were then tested six years after the study was completed.
The goal was to determine the long-term effects of antioxidant supplementation on cognitive function. The people who took the antioxidant vitamins and minerals scored better on episodic memory tests and verbal fluency. Verbal memory also improved but only if the subjects had low levels of vitamin C at the beginning of the study or if they were not smokers.
[American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online July 20, 2011]