Have you heard the news? There’s a certain supplement in the spotlight right now, thanks to recently released research straight from the COSMOS.
Okay, so, it wasn’t beamed down to us from the heavens. COSMOS, which stands for COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study, is a large-scale clinical trial exploring the potential benefits of both cocoa extracts and multivitamins on memory and cognition.
The data of a smaller study within the COSMOS framework has yielded surprising results regarding the effects of multivitamins on brain health. But of course, we weren’t too surprised to learn that multis can slow brain aging and improve cognitive function.
What was surprising was the influx of articles about this study from NBC, The New York Times, and everyone in between. Turns out, we Americans are pretty concerned with maintaining optimal brain health well into our twilight years!
But before you rush to grab that Women’s One-A-Day off the nearest natural foods store shelf, there are a few things you should know about the results of this study and what it means to take multivitamins properly. For that info and more, scroll on, fellow wellness seeker.
In This Article:
- The COSMOS study and how multivitamins can affect brain health
- Why multivitamins are vital
- Three things to know about buying multivitamins
How Can Multivitamins Help Brain Health?
Here’s the short answer: Multivitamins can bolster brain health by filling dietary gaps and ensuring optimal micronutrient levels.
By doing so, multivitamins can help prevent deficiencies that can, if left unchecked, develop into diseases. Because, well, we can’t really consider ourselves healthy people if we’re suffering from one or more micronutrient deficiencies that will eventually bloom into a full-blown disease.
They may be small, but their influence on health is huge — astronomical, even.
This COSMOS trial reaffirms a long-held understanding of micronutrients and what exactly they do in the body. In it, 573 participants aged 60 and up were split into two groups.
One took a multivitamin daily for two years, and the others took a placebo. As it turns out, the unlucky schmucks in the latter group missed out on the significant improvements in memory and cognitive function that the people taking multivitamins experienced.
So, by addressing deficiencies caused by a lack of proper micronutrient intake via diet, multivitamins were able to not only support but actually improve brain health in these random boomers.
That’s (Part of) Why Multivitamins Are Vital
This study by COSMOS is important for many reasons. For example, it’s comforting to be reminded that multivitamins can help us fight back against some of the more terrifying aspects of aging — like memory loss and cognitive decline.
On the other hand, though, it’s also kind of… not that important. Studies have shown, for decades now, that multivitamins are crucial for overall health in the modern age. This new study, while interesting, isn’t groundbreaking, it’s redundant.
To be fair, the internet is so rife with misinformation about food, supplements, and wellness that most people don’t know what it actually means to be healthy these days. Hence the shell-shocked response to the idea that getting the micronutrients your body needs has a positive effect on your health.
But before we segue into an industry rant, let’s take a deeper look at what it is that makes multivitamins vital and more specifically, a Vital5. Because, in case you needed reminding, they were a member of Dr. Neal’s quintessential supplement quintet long before this COSMOS study hoopla.
To make the Vital5 list — which may one day be a Vital6, 7, or 10 list — a supplement has to hit all 3 of the following marks.
- It must be backed by mounds of clinical data and research
- It must be critical for more than one body system
- It must be something the average person is severely lacking
That last one is the kicker. Most of us, for one reason or another, aren’t getting enough micronutrients from the food we eat. Whether it’s due to a lack of access to nutritious food and food education or leaky gut and digestive issues that prevent absorption, we are all on the struggle bus.
Getting a Multivitamin That Actually Works
You know what, though? Forget our haterade about the COSMOS study commotion. If it amplifies the message Dr. Neal has been sharing for years, then it benefits us all.
That message is, of course, that everyone needs a multivitamin. If that’s the case — that everyone and their mothers need a multivitamin — it makes sense that there are 75,000+ different multivitamin products out there. Right?
There are only about 2,000 helpful ingredients that those 75,000 different products could be using, max. Which leads to a lot of overlap. And it means that most of the differentiating factors you see in these different products are marketing speak, not quality markers.
We should, as modern humans, be able to pick up any multivitamin from the shelf and rest assured that it’s helping us reach our targets for micronutrients. We should, but we can’t.
Instead, if we want to take multivitamins for brain health without wasting time or money, we have to transform from an average consumer to a savvy shopper. We can do so by getting educated about the three things that make a multivitamin worth the price tag: Form, Dose, and Strategy.
1. Multivitamin Forms: Why They’re Crucial for Brain Health Optimization
Over the last 20+ years, our holistic-pharmacist-turned-Woodstock-Vitamins-founder, Dr. Neal, has compared and contrasted thousands of multivitamins, scouring the digital aisles for top-rated and underground favorites to scrutinize their supplement facts panels.
And honestly, he has NOT been impressed.
Most multivitamins use ineffective, cheap, isolated forms of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in their formulas. In an effort to seem comprehensive, they jam-pack ingredient lists with sprinklings of micronutrients in forms that are, at best, completely ignored by your body.
So don’t fall for fancy branding and highfalutin marketing speak like “whole food” when you’re shopping for a multivitamin. Instead, do your research.
Look at the specific forms of vitamins and minerals included in a particular multivitamin supplement and get out your reading glasses if you have to. It’s imperative to make sure that every single active ingredient included is one that, according to actual science, can be absorbed and utilized by your body.
2. Multivitamin Doses for Brain Health — How to Avoid Wasting Money
But there’s more trickery afoot than just the cheap ingredients — remember that sneaky ingredient sprinkling we mentioned?
Multivitamin manufacturers will often pull this sleight of hand when marketing their products to you. They put what Dr. Neal calls fairy dust doses of vitamins and minerals in their products to swindle folks into thinking they’re getting what their brains and bodies need.
The reality is that taking these infinitesimally small doses of micronutrients does nothing to improve your health. In fact, when you factor in the stress caused by wasting money on these kinds of multivitamin supplements, they might actually do more harm than good.
So while you can microdose your mushrooms all you want (if you’re in Colorado), you shouldn’t microdose your multivitamins.
It was this unethical aspect of multivitamin marketing that was the straw that broke Dr. Neal’s science-loving back, pushing him to create his own formulation. (But don’t fact-check us on that.) Thus, Coenzyme Multi, a multivitamin that contains not only the proper, biologically active forms of micronutrients but also the correct, data-backed doses of each god-loving ingredient, was created.
And that you can fact-check us on.
3. Strategy: What to Do Before Taking a Multivitamin for Brain Health
More bad news: There’s no single multivitamin that can save your life. Not even the best of the best multivitamins around — cough, cough, Coenzyme Multi.
That’s because, as much as we wish the opposite, multivitamins aren’t one-a-day space food that can keep our bodies in optimal health for productivity 100% of the time. The marketing might imply this, but it simply isn’t true.
What is true is that multivitamins can help improve our health — especially brain health, as we now know — when they’re building on a strong foundation of wellness. Translation: you can’t take a multivitamin while maintaining your all-cheeto diet and expect to be in good health. That’s not how it works.
So before you snatch up your own bottle of Coenzyme Multi — take a keen look at the mundane areas of your hopefully healthy life. What, in the domains of diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes, can you improve first?
Focus on bolstering your brain through movement, rest, nutrition, and environmental changes before you buy a supplement. Your brain and your wallet will thank you.
It’s a No-Brainer, Right?
Are you racking your brain for a lifestyle-based wellness practice that will save you cash and benefit your noggin? Do you have half a mind to start taking a multivitamin for your brain health, but want to learn more about bioactive micronutrient forms?
Well, then, give us a call! As always, our certified-egghead, holistic brain health experts are available to talk about your particular cerebral curiosities via Counterside Consult — yes, for free.