Collaborations,  Press Release

Pin Prick Blood Test Predicts Dementia Risk

Pin prick blood test predicts dementia risk. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will share a press release from the Food For The Brain Foundation, exploring how the Pin prick blood test predicts dementia risk. A new pin prick blood test that not only aims to predict your future risk for dementia but tells you how to reduce it is launched today by the charity as part of a global prevention research study aiming to involve a million people worldwide. The home-test kit measures your blood sugar, vitamin D, omega-3 and B vitamin status, accounting for more than half the modifiable risks for dementia.

Pin Prick Blood Test Predicts Dementia Risk

A new pinprick blood test that not only aims to predict your future risk for dementia but tells you how to reduce it is launched today as part of a global prevention research study aiming to involve a million people worldwide. The home-test kit from the charity measures your blood sugar, vitamin D, omega-3 and B vitamin status, which account for more than half the modifiable risks for dementia. The results show how a person can reduce risk with specific diet changes.

“Alzheimer’s is a preventable but not reversible disease. Less than one in a hundred cases are directly caused by genes. Prevention is entirely possible if you can identify who is at risk early enough and encourage the right diet and lifestyle changes.” says Patrick Holford, founder of, the UK’s leading dementia prevention charity, which is running the prevention project together with Dr Tommy Wood, Assistant Professor at the University of Washington.

“By tracking a person’s blood sugar, vitamin B, D and omega-3 status against changes in cognitive function over time, in addition to lifestyle factors such as sleep and physical activity, we can learn what helps prevent cognitive decline,” says Dr Wood, the principal investigator for the study.

The charity has already tested over 410,000 people with their free Cognitive Function Test at and hopes to enrol a million people, making this the largest’ citizen science’ global prevention initiative.

“Subtle changes in cognition occur at least 30 years before a diagnosis, so we screen people online with a free Cognitive Function Test. And four simple blood tests are predictive and can help a person understand how to drive down that risk. I call them the four horsemen of the mental health apocalypse because they also drive depression and ADHD. The incidence of both of these is increasing,” says Holford.


The four tests, called DRIfT (the Dementia Risk Index Functional Test), carried out using a simple home-test kit and a single pinprick of blood, add further predictive capability and help guide the individual to make diet changes to reduce future risk.

Blood Sugar (HbA1c)

Even raised blood sugar levels from age 35, but within ‘reference’ ranges, predict a 15 per cent increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease 35 years later, according to research by Boston University School of Medicine.[1] This confirms other research from the University of Washington showing an 18% increased risk with raised sugar levels in older people seven years later and a 40% increased risk in those with diabetes.[2] Even better than your blood sugar level, which varies across the day, is a long-term measure of blood sugar, called HbA1c, used to predict diabetes, which this test measures.

B Vitamins (Homocysteine)

Low levels of B12, found in animal products, and folate, found in greens, raise blood levels of homocysteine. Raised homocysteine is considered a top marker for dementia risk and is a causative driver of the disease process.[3] Studies lowering homocysteine with B vitamins have more than halved the rate of age-related brain shrinkage. A Swedish study started in 1968 found that those in the top third of homocysteine scores in their 40s had double the risk for Alzheimer’s almost 35 years later.[4] When homocysteine goes up, memory gets worse, and when it goes down, memory gets better, according to a six-year study in Norway.[5]

About half of all people over 60 have homocysteine levels above 11mcmol/l [6], associated with increased brain shrinkage. A study in Italy found that those with homocysteine above 15mcmol/l have five times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with a level below 10.[7]

Last year, a study in China showed that raised homocysteine increases the risk of cognitive decline by ten times.[8] Homocysteine is easily lowered by supplementing vitamins B6, B12 and folate but at levels higher than achievable from diet because many older people do not absorb B12 well.

Oxford University’s health economist Dr Apostolos Tsiachristas estimates that “Screening for homocysteine in people over 60 in the UK and treating those with raised levels with B vitamins could save the UK economy approximately £60 million per year.”


Increased intake of omega-3, either from diet or supplements and having a higher omega-3 blood level is associated with cutting the risk for dementia by a fifth (20%), according to a study of 48 studies involving over 100,000 people.[9]

Supplementing fish oils[10] cuts the risk of dementia by 9%, according to research from the UK BioBank. Being in the top third for omega-3 blood levels, compared to the lowest third, reduced the rate of brain shrinkage in a year by more than two-thirds in those given B vitamins with mild cognitive impairment.[11]

The omega-3 index, which the DRIfT test measures, predicts brain size and cognitive function.[12] This Oxford University research establishes that the brain needs sufficient B vitamins and omega-3 to stay healthy.

Vitamin D

A higher vitamin D above 75nmol/l (25 ng/ml) reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia by a third.[13]  In turn, those with a vitamin D level below 50nmol/l increase their risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia by a third.[14]

Six out of 10 adults in the UK[15] and three out of 10 in the US[16] have a vitamin D level below this. Taking vitamin D supplements may help ward off dementia, according to a 2023 study involving over twelve thousand dementia-free 70+ year olds in the US. Those taking vitamin D supplements had a 40% lower incidence of dementia during ten years. Vitamin D is essential to supplement during the winter months.

These four risk factors, measured in the DRIfT test, are thought to account for over half the modifiable risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.[17] Having an active lifestyle, both physically, socially and intellectually, further reduces risk substantially.

To take the free online Cognitive Function Test, the pin prick DRIfT test, and join the global prevention study, go to

I hope you enjoyed that.

Talk soon


The Food for the Brain Foundation ( is an educational and research charity focused on dementia prevention. It’s a free online validated Cognitive Function Test, followed by the Dementia Risk Index questionnaire assessing eight drivers of dementia, including ‘brain fats’ and ‘low carbs & GL’, thus identifying those eating too many carbs and not enough brain fats, then advising them what to do.


[1] Zhang X, Tong T, Chang A, Ang TFA, Tao Q, Auerbach S, Devine S, Qiu WQ, Mez J, Massaro J, Lunetta KL, Au R, Farrer LA. Midlife lipid and glucose levels are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Jan;19(1):181-193. doi: 10.1002/alz.12641. Epub 2022 Mar 23. PMID: 35319157; PMCID: PMC10078665.

[2] P.K. Crane et al., ‘Glucose levels and risk of dementia’, New England Journal of Medicine (2013), vol 369(6):540–548.


[3] Smith AD, Refsum H, Bottiglieri T, Fenech M, Hooshmand B, McCaddon A, Miller JW, Rosenberg IH, Obeid R. Homocysteine and Dementia: An International Consensus Statement. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;62(2):561-570. doi: 10.3233/JAD-171042. PMID: 29480200; PMCID: PMC5836397.


[4] Zylberstein DE, Lissner L, Bjorkelund C, Mehlig K, Thelle DS, Gustafson D, Ostling S, Waern M, Guo X, Skoog I (2011) Midlife homocysteine and late-life dementia in women. A prospective population study. Neurobiol Aging 32, 380-386

[5] Nurk E, Refsum H, Tell GS, Engedal K, Vollset SE, Ueland PM, Nygaard HA, Smith AD (2005) Plasma total homocysteine and memory in older people: The Hordaland Homocysteine study. Ann Neurol 58, 847-857.

[6] Pfeiffer CM, Osterloh JD, Kennedy-Stephenson J, Picciano MF, Yetley EA, Rader JI, Johnson CL. Trends in circulating total homocysteine concentrations among US adolescents and adults: findings from the 1991-1994 and 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Clin Chem. 2008 May;54(5):801-13. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2007.100214. Epub 2008 Mar 28. PMID: 18375482.

[7] Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, Martelli M, Servadei L, Brunetti N, Porcellini E, Licastro F (2005) Homocysteine and folate as risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer disease. Am J Clin Nutr 82, 636-643.

[8] Teng Z, Feng J, Liu R, Ji Y, Xu J, Jiang X, Chen H, Dong Y, Meng N, Xiao Y, Xie X and Lv P (2022) Cerebral small vessel disease mediates the association between homocysteine and cognitive function. Front. Aging Neurosci. 14:868777. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.868777

[9] Wei BZ, Li L, Dong CW, Tan CC; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; Xu W. The Relationship of Omega-3 Fatty Acids with Dementia and Cognitive Decline: Evidence from Perspective Cohort Studies of Supplementation, Dietary Intake, and Blood Markers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Apr 5:S0002-9165(23)46320-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.04.001. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37028557.

[10] Huang Y, Deng Y, Zhang P, Lin J, Guo D, Yang L, Liu D, Xu B, Huang C and Zhang H (2022) Associations of fish oil supplementation with incident dementia: Evidence from the UK Biobank cohort study.Front. Neurosci. 16:910977.doi: 10.3389/fnins.2022.910977

[11] Jernerén F, Elshorbagy AK, Oulhaj A, Smith SM, Refsum H, Smith AD. Brain atrophy in cognitively impaired elderly: the importance of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and B vitamin status in a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):215-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103283. Epub 2015 Apr 15. PMID: 25877495.

[12] Loong, S.; Barnes, S.; Gatto, N.M.; Chowdhury, S.; Lee, G.J. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Cognition, and Brain Volume in Older Adults. Brain Sci.2023,13,1278. 10.3390/brainsci13091278

[14] Chai et al. BMC Neurology (2019) 19:284

[15] Calame W, Street L, Hulshof T. Vitamin D Serum Levels in the UK Population, including a Mathematical Approach to Evaluate the Impact of Vitamin D Fortified Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereals: Application of the NDNS Database. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 23;12(6):1868. doi: 10.3390/nu12061868. PMID: 32585847; PMCID: PMC7353432.

[16] Liu X, Baylin A, Levy PD. The prevalence, predictors and clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among US adults. Br J Nutr. 2018 Apr;119(8):928-936. Doi: 10.1017/S0007114518000491. PMID: 29644951.

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  • Mayuri

    This is such an informative post! I didn’t know there’s a pin-prick blood test for dementia too…I would definitely consult with my family doctor to see if it’s available in this part of the world or not.

  • Luna S

    Wow! It is amazing how far that healthcare system has come and that were are starting to be able to detect things like this earlier.

  • Betj

    This is amazing! I’m lucky that I have no dementia in my family, but I’d still love to know if I might be at risk. I have a friend whose family has dementia running rampant, so I need to show this to her.

  • Kimberley Asante

    Your post about the pin-prick blood test predicting dementia risk is a significant and informative piece of news. The potential breakthrough in early detection and risk assessment for dementia is a promising development for healthcare. Thanks for sharing this important information – it’s a valuable update for those concerned about dementia and its early detection. Keep up the great work in providing health-related news and updates! 🧠🌟

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