University of Cambridge Nutrition

University of Cambridge Nutrition

MRC Human Nutrition Research (HNR)

MRC Human Nutrition Research (HNR) conducts nutrition research and surveillance to improve the health of the population, with a focus on cardiometabolic risk and obesity, musculo-skeletal health, intestinal function and nutritional vulnerabilities. The Unit is led by Professor Ann Prentice.

Nutrition and Bone Health – Dr Ann Prentice

Adolescence and skeletal health

A 12 year follow-up of an RCT showed that calcium supplementation prepuberty in Gambian adolescent boys advanced the pubertal growth spurt, resulting in shorter stature but no lasting effect on bone mineral or bone size in young adulthood (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2014:99:2169-3176). Lifecourse data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development demonstrated the influence of adolescence growth patterns on skeletal health at age 60-64 years (J Bone Miner Res 2015: 29 123-133). These studies add to our previous research
showing the importance of longitudinal and lifecourse studies to identify determinants of bone health in adolescence and later life.

Vitamin D requirements in pregnancy and old age

As consortium partners in two UK-based RCTs of vitamin D supplementation on bone health in pregnancy (MAVIDOS, led by MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, Southampton) and old age (VDOP, led by the University of Newcastle) we finalised the sample collection and analysis to determine the supplement effect on vitamin D status and related biochemistry. These trials will provide robust evidence on whether there is a need for vitamin D supplementation in these vulnerable groups.

Iron deficiency and phosphate metabolism

Studies in Gambian children have demonstrated an unexpected link between poor iron status and raised fibroblast factor-23, a key hormone involved in phosphate regulation that has been implicated in the aetiology of non-vitamin D deficiency rickets in our previous studies (Endocrine Connections 3:1-10). This shows that iron status needs to be considered in disorders of phosphate metabolism.

Nutrition Surveys and Studies – Polly Page

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (NDNSRP) is the only source of reliable data on nutritional intake and status for the UK population. As scientific lead, we have coauthored four government reports presenting headline results from Years 1 to 4, 2008-2012 (combined results) for the UK overall, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and on blood folate results. At our laboratories we have also developed the international gold standard mass-spectrometric research method for measurement of serum folate, thus bringing the UK in line with recommendations of the 2008 international expert workshop that blood folate analysis in the UK should move to research methods selected
as providing the most accurate quantitation possible.