An adequate micronutrient intake may prevent cognitive decline

January 1, 2014

A new study from Germany reports that increased blood levels of B vitamins, carotenoids, vitamin E and zinc after supplementation are associated with an improved self-perception of general health status in elderly with mild cognitive impairment.

In the observational study, serum concentrations of vitamins, carotenoids and trace elements as well as potential markers of vascular disease risk (e.g., homocysteine) were measured in 42 patients aged 61 to 87 years with mild cognitive deficits before and after a two-month multi-micronutrient supplementation (1). The study showed that the blood levels of B vitamins, folic acid, lutein, beta-carotene and vitamin E (alpha-toco- pherol) were significantly increased after supplementation, while a decrease in homocysteine levels was measured. No increase in intracellular antioxidant levels was observed. In addition, supplementation was associated with an improved self-perception of general health status.

The researchers concluded that for patients with insufficient micronutrient status, a supplementation may be helpful for improving cognitive function, as already shown in other studies (2). Micronutrient supplements need to be adjusted for specific population groups to optimize their supply. Several epidemiological studies have shown that in cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, lower levels of micronutrients within the normal range are observed than among controls, suggesting that there is an additional need for specific micronutrients (3, 4). Whether supplementation with micronutrients is capable of reducing the risk of demen- tia remains controversial.


  1. von Arnim C. A. et al. Micronutrients supplementation and nutritional status in cognitively impaired elderly persons: a two-month open label pilot study. Nutr J. 2013; 12(1):148.
  2. Manders M. et al. Effectiveness of nutritional supplements on cognitive functioning in elderly persons: a systematic review. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004; 12:1041–1049.
  3. Kamat C. D. et al. Review Antioxidants in central nervous system diseases: preclinical promise and translational challenges. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008; 15(3):473–493.
  4. Guérin O. et al. Characteristics of Alzheimer's disease patients with a rapid weight loss during a six-year follow-up. Clin Nutr. 2009; 28(2):141–146.