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Front Behav Neurosci. 2019 May 28;13:115. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00115. eCollection 2019.

Improvement in Cognition Following Double-Blind Randomized Micronutrient Interventions in the General Population.

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Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom.


The impact of poor nutrition on physiological health is well understood (Costarelli et al., 2013). Less is known about the effects of diet on brain function and cognition in the general population (Ames, 2010; Parletta et al., 2013; White et al., 2017) and we are still in the early stages of understanding the role of specific nutrients to normal and pathological neuronal functioning. In the present study, the putative effect of a multivitamin/mineral or vitamin D supplement on cognitive function over an 8-week period was compared with volunteers taking vitamin C. Healthy adults (N = 60) were recruited, age range 21-59 years ( x ¯ = 39.07 years, SD = 11.46), with participants randomly allocated to conditions in a double-blind protocol. Participants also completed a 14-day food diary to gather information on micronutrient intake. The cognitive test battery included measures from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III; Wechsler et al., 2008), Wechsler Memory Scale-IV (WMS-IV; Wechsler, 2009) and Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS; Delis et al., 2001), along with the Doors and People (Baddeley et al., 1994) and a serial reaction time task. Analyses showed better performance on some tasks in all groups following the intervention period, notably on measures of verbal and visual memory and visuomotor processing speed. The Multivitamin group showed significant improvements on tasks of visual strategy generation (along with the Vitamin C group), motor planning, explicit and implicit learning, and working memory. This evidence suggests that sub-optimal micronutrient intake may have a negative effect on cognition across the lifespan.


8-week intervention; cognition; diet; healthy adults; micronutrient supplements

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