Shedding new light on dementia: From vitamin D to diagnosis

Investigating the natural history of dementia can reveal new risk factors. This can help us identify behaviours that put people at risk, or mean they are less likely to develop dementia, and what we can potentially do to reduce this risk. This work, alongside the team’s commitment to enhancing earlier detection of dementia, could help people stave off the disease, and pave the way to new treatments.

Dr David Llewellyn specialises in finding new insights which can be directly applied to improving diagnosis and treatment. His team has extensively explored lifestyle, genetic, cognitive, neuroimaging and clinical risk factors for dementia and disease progression.

In the most robust population-based study of its kind, they discovered that having a vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people. Participants who were severely vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

They also conducted the first systematic review linking a Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This work featured in open letters to policy makers from the scientific community ahead of the G8 Dementia Summit.

Researchers

Dr David Llewellyn