Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Flavonoid intake and disability-adjusted life years due to Alzheimer’s and related dementias: a population-based study involving twenty-three developed countries

Kristopher Bekinga1 and Amandio Vieiraa1 c1

a1 Nutrition & Metabolic Research Laboratory, Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology, and Institute for Health Research & Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada


Objective Dietary flavonoids and their metabolites may have neuroprotective effects against age-associated neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and related dementias (dementia). There is a lack of population studies, however, on correlations between flavonoid intake and dementia. The main objective of the present study was to analyse such a relationship at a large-scale population level.

Design Based on global data (FAO, WHO), databases were generated for: (i) flavonoid content of foods; (ii) per capita national dietary intakes of flavonoids and other dietary factors; and (iii) disability-adjusted life years – a measure of burden and death – due to dementia. Five major flavonoid subclasses were examined. To minimize influences due to accuracy and reliability of the disease source data, twenty-three developed countries were selected after statistical evaluation.

Results Flavonols and combined flavonoids (all five combined) intakes were the only two parameters with significant (P < 0·05) negative dementia correlations. Multiple linear regression models confirmed this relationship, and excluded confounding from some other dietary and non-dietary factors. Similar analyses with non-dementia, neurological/psychiatric diseases did not yield significant correlations.

Conclusions At a global level, and in the context of different genetic backgrounds, our results suggest that higher consumption of dietary flavonoids, especially flavonols, is associated with lower population rates of dementia in these countries.

(Received February 26 2009)

(Accepted November 11 2009)

(Online publication January 11 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email