Results from a study conducted in France indicate long-term consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements could improve memory skills.
In 1994, researchers from the University of Paris XIII recruited 4,500 French men and women aged 45 to 60 to take part in the experiment. The subjects were split randomly into two separate groups and while half of them took a daily supplement with vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc and beta-carotene for eight years, the other group took a nutrient-free placebo pill each day. The participants were not told whether they were taking the vitamin or the placebo.
After the eight years, researchers stopped giving participants the pills and gave them the choice of whether or not to take vitamin supplements. Six years later, the researchers brought them back for a round of memory tests, including word and number problems.
While the supplement and placebo groups performed similarly on most tests, the nutrient-boosted participants beat their peers on one test of long-term memory in which participants had to recall words in different categories.
Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers said the results needed to be considered carefully because the difference in performance could be down to chance.
Further studies were required to confirm the outcome, they said, but added, "The findings support a beneficial effect of a well-balanced intake of antioxidant nutrients at nutritional doses for maintaining cognitive performance, especially verbal memory."