Concurrent nutrient deficiencies are associated with dementia incidence

Annick P.M. van Soest, Lisette C.P.G.M. de Groot, Renger F. Witkamp, Debora Melo van Lent, Sudha Seshadri, Ondine van de Rest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: While observational research suggests a protective role for nutrition in brain aging, intervention studies remain inconclusive. This failing translation from observational to interventional research may result from overlooking nutrient interactions. METHODS: We developed a nutrient status index capturing the number of suboptimal statuses of omega-3 fatty acids, homocysteine, and vitamin D (range 0 to 3). We associated this index with dementia incidence in a subsample (age ≥ 50 years) of the Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort. RESULTS: Among 968 participants, 79 developed dementia over 15.5 years (median follow-up). Each point increase in nutrient status index was associated with a 50% higher risk of dementia (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.16, 1.96). Participants with three high-risk statuses had a four-fold increased risk of dementia compared to participants without high-risk status (HR = 4.68; 95% CI = 1.69, 12.94). DISCUSSION: Concurrent nutrient deficiencies are associated with the risk of dementia. The potential of optimizing nutritional status to lower dementia risk warrants further study. Highlights: Nutrition and dementia research calls for multiple-nutrient approaches. We studied combined suboptimal statuses of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, homocysteine, and vitamin D. Suboptimal status of the three nutrients was associated with dementia risk. The risk estimate was larger than for other factors (ie, diabetes, apolipoprotein E ε4 carrier). Future studies should assess the effect of improving nutrient status on dementia risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • B vitamins
  • aging
  • apolipoprotein E
  • biomarkers
  • elderly
  • nutrition
  • older adults
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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