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24 Nov 2015

With winter setting in, and the subsequent lack of sunlight causing vitamin D levels to drop, nutrionists at the University of Chester are undertaking timely research to investigate the effects of vitamin D supplements and iron absorption in iron deficient women, and are keen to find women aged 19 to 49 to take part in their study.

Pictured above are Graduate Assistant Ellen Freeborn and PhD student Salma Ahmad in the Clinical Science and Nutrition labs at the University.
Most of the body’s vitamin D intake is from sunlight – which enables the vitamin to be made by our body under the skin. With fewer bright days over the winter months, our reserves of the vitamin tend to fall. The research is being carried out by the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition at the University, and is being led by Dr Sohail Mushtaq, who leads the Micronutrient Metabolism Research Group, and PhD student Salma Ahmad, with Graduate Assistant, Ellen Freeborn.
Salma said: “Deficiency in both vitamin D and iron is a significant public health issue in the UK. Recent studies have shown that taking vitamin D can help increase iron absorption and national dietary surveys show that between 25% and 40% of women of child bearing age have lower than the recommended intake of iron in their food.  We are interested to find out whether our study helps improve iron levels of the women taking part.”
Ellen added: “Vitamin D deficiency is the largest pandemic in the world and increasing people’s vitamin D intake is such a cheap and efficient way to decrease health risks.
“For our research trial, we are looking to hear from women aged between 19 and 49 years old, with no gastrointestinal illness, who are not currently on supplements, not pregnant or lactating and who haven’t donated blood in the last six months.
“Those who are eligible to take part will be given a free cereal breakfast for eight weeks, free nutritional analysis, including iron status and vitamin D status, and a £25 Amazon voucher on completion of the trial.
“And, of course, they will also be contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the role of vitamin D and how it affects how we absorb iron from food.”
Those interested in participating will be asked to take part in an initial eligibility screening and a clinic, which will include taking a small blood sample. After that, those who meet the criteria will be requested to eat the provided breakfast cereal at home (which will be fortified with iron) and will be given either a vitamin D supplement or placebo, for a period of eight weeks.
If you think you could fit the bill and would like to advance research in this area, please email
More details about vitamin D, and how to increase your intake, can be found on the NHS website:
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