Multivitamins may improve short-term memory

March 12, 2012

A new Australian review suggests that daily use of a multivitamin supplement may benefit immediate recall memory.

To evaluate the potential effects of multivitamin supplementation on the parameters of cognitive perfor-mance, the systematic review and meta-analysis included data from 10 randomized, placebo-controlled trials involving 3,200 participants and multivitamin interventions that lasted for at least one month (1). The analysis showed that daily multivitamin intake was associated with an improvement in immediate free recall memory. No effects on delayed free recall memory or verbal fluency were found.

The researchers noted that although adequate vitamin and nutrient concentrations were necessary for optimal health and cognitive functioning, there was no scientific consensus as to whether multivitamin use prevents cognitive decline or improves mental functioning. Recent clinical trials support the role of daily multivitamin and mineral supplements for enhancing memory in older women (2) and for increased alertness and the feeling of general well-being in elderly men (3). The beneficial effects of multivitamins may have to do with the antioxidant protection they provide by counteracting oxidative stress in the brain, the scientists commented.


  1. Grima N. A. et al. The Effects of Multivitamins on Alzheimer's Disease. Published online February 2012.
  2. Macpherson H. et al. Memory improvements in elderly women following 16 weeks treatment with a combined multivitamin, mineral and herbal supplement: A randomized controlled trial. Psychopharmacology. 2012; 220 (2):351–365.
  3. Harris E. et al. The effect of multivitamin supplementation on mood and stress in healthy older men. Human Psychopharmacology. 2011; 26(8):560–567.