Study supports multivitamin use in healthy older men, stresses micronutrient status

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Jenny Cundy / Getty Images
© Jenny Cundy / Getty Images

Related tags Multivitamin micronutrient cellular aging Haleon

A study from researchers at Oregon State University is the latest to support the potential health benefits of multivitamin supplementation in older adults and presents micronutrient biomarkers as fundamental to future research.

“Overall, multivitamin/multimineral (MV/MM) use improves or prevents declines in vitamin, but not mineral, status and limits declines in cellular O2​ consumption, which may have important implications for metabolism and immune health in healthy older men,” the research team wrote in the journal Nutrients.

The study, funded by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (now Haleon), evaluated the effects of Centrum Silver Men’s Formula in a group of 35 healthy men over the age of 67.

Multivitamins and older adults

The researchers noted that older adults commonly take over-the-counter supplements to improve their health but that previous studies have questioned the effectiveness of multivitamins in reducing chronic disease risk or changing nutrition status in this population.

“[T]here is only limited evidence that MV/MM supplements improve the micronutrient status of adults above the age of 50 and scarce reports for individuals above the age of 65,” they wrote. 

They added that much of the multivitamin research to date has focused on a wide range of ages, ignored gender differences, included confounding age-associated co-morbidities (which may be responsible for micronutrient deficiency in older adults), and focused “on determining the reduction in disease risk and not the more fundamental question of improving micronutrient status.”

Publication of this study follows on the heels of widely-reported findings​ from the large-scale COSMOS trial, which showed that a daily multivitamin (also Centrum Silver) improved memory and slowed cognitive decline in adults over the age of 60.

Here, the Oregon researchers investigated changes in blood micronutrient biomarkers from baseline to at least six months of supplementation (as an indicator of micronutrient status), as well as basal O2​ consumption in monocytes (as an indicator of cellular metabolism). 

Study details

The single-center, two-armed, parallel, double-blind study randomly assigned participants to either consume one tablet a day of Centrum Silver (MM/MV) or a placebo for six months. Blood samples were collected at baseline and following the intervention to assess vitamin, mineral and mitochondrial metabolic status.

“The analysis shows that, despite the lack of overall micronutrient deficiencies in this population, MV/MM supplementation improves both blood concentrations and the status of many of these vitamins,” the researchers wrote. “In addition, the observation that PBMC O2​ consumption is maintained by MV/MM supplementation, in contrast to placebo, may have important implications for maintaining mitochondrial function and energy metabolism with age.”

MV/MM supplementation improved blood concentrations of pyridoxal phosphate, calcifediol, α-tocopherol, and β-carotene throughout the cohort, while participants in the placebo group generally showed declines in blood vitamin concentrations and an increased prevalence of suboptimal vitamin status during the study period. Centrum Silver, however, did not significantly affect mineral concentrations, i.e., calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. 

“Although MV/MM supplementation is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy and does not target specific micronutrient needs, it is a cost-effective approach to improve micronutrient status in older men and may have an as yet unappreciated impact on maintaining metabolic function in cells,” the study concluded.

Micronutrient status first, disease risk second​ 

The researchers recommended that future MV/MM clinical studies include micronutrient biomarkers as fundamental benchmarks and only investigate changes in disease risk in participants with improved micronutrient status.

“If consuming an MV/MM supplement does not guarantee changes in micronutrient status, how can one expect to observe changes in health outcomes?” they asked.

The study also suggested focusing on the influence of MV/MM on markers of health status instead of pursuing large and involved clinical trials on the reduction of chronic disease risk. 

“Existing studies where relatively healthy older adults were the focus, such as the current study, have already provided evidence that daily MV/MM supplementation may improve indices of metabolism which potentially lowers the risk for pathophysiologies of aging,” they wrote.

Source: Nutrients2023​, 15(12), 2691
Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplementation Prevents or Reverses Decline in Vitamin Biomarkers and Cellular Energy Metabolism in Healthy Older Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
Authors: Alexander J. Michels et al.

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