The increasing worldwide prevalence of dementia is a major public health concern. Findings from some epidemiological studies suggest that diet and nutrition may be important modifiable risk factors for development of dementia. In order to evaluate the strength of the available evidence of an association of dietary factors with dementia including Alzheimer's disease (AD), we systematically searched relevant publication databases and hand-searched bibliographies up to end July 2007. We included prospective cohort studies which evaluated the association of nutrient levels with the risk of developing dementia and randomized intervention studies examining the treatment effect of nutrient supplementation on cognitive function. One hundred and sixty studies, comprising ninety one prospective cohort studies and sixty nine intervention studies, met the pre-specified inclusion criteria. Of these, thirty-three studies (19 cohort and 14 randomized controlled trials) investigated the effects of folate, B-vitamins, and levels of homocysteine (a biomarker modifiable through B-vitamin supplementation) or fish/fatty acids and are the focus of the present report. Some observational cohort studies indicated that higher dietary intake or elevated serum levels of folate and fish/fatty acids and low serum levels of homocysteine were associated with a reduced risk of incident AD and dementia, while other studies reported no association. The results of intervention studies examining the effects of folic acid or fatty acid supplementation on cognitive function are inconsistent. In summary, the available evidence is insufficient to draw definitive conclusions on the association of B vitamins and fatty acids with cognitive decline or dementia, and further long-term trials are required.