Can vitamins keep your brain young?

A new study in Hawaii has found that taking vitamin C and E supplements could help preserve your memory function and slow mental decline as you age. Reported in the March issue of the journal Neurology, the study at the Kuakini Medical Center in Honolulu found that elderly men who took vitamin E and C supplements at least once a week over a number of years were protected from dementia. Some subjects actually showed improvements in memory, creativity and mental acuity.

"Vitamin E and C supplements may protect against… dementia and may improve cognitive function in late life," report Dr. Kamal H. Masaki and his colleagues, authors of the study. The authors point out that the vitamins do not appear to prevent dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study looked at supplement use and mental function among 3,385 Japanese-American men in 1988. Ranging in age from 71 to 93 years, the men were again tested four years later. Long term use of the vitamins seems to be key in determining their effects. As the authors note, subjects who took both vitamins together for many years showed much greater improvement — mental function, which theyay suggests that "long-term use is required to improve cognitive function in late life."