Vitamins and supplements are no magic pill when it comes to warding off the effects of ageing on our brains.
That’s the finding from a University of Canberra study examining the effect of vitamins and supplements on cognitive decline in old age.
PhD candidate Nathan D’Cunha and Dr Evaki Georgousopoulou studied the results from 25 random trials where people over 65 had used a range of vitamins and supplements, or nutraceuticals.
These included B-vitamins, omega 3-fatty-acids, antioxidant vitamins and herbal supplements.
The findings suggest nutraceuticals are unnecessary and a waste of money.
“Out of all this work, spanning 10 years, we found just five of the studies reported any notable benefits, either delaying or preventing cognitive decline,” says D’Cunha.
Australia’s nutraceutical industry, including supplements and vitamins, is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion annually.
The findings have implications for how we ensure the health of a rapidly ageing population – with Australia predicted to have more than four million people aged 65 to 84 by 2022.
Dr Georgousopoulou says while supplements and vitamins might not be the answer, research may unlock alternatives.
“While there is no compelling evidence to support the use of these nutraceuticals to improve cognition in the elderly, there are other options which are still to be tested and trialled,” she says.
“Time will tell if there are alternatives which can produce positive results for all of us as we age.”
Research to improve ageing is only possible if we support our universities. To keep Australia clever, sign the petition below.