Crystal Ball series

Reminiscences of my life as a nutritionist—and looking to the future


In this invited article for the Crystal Ball series, I have tried to briefly cover my undergraduate and post-graduate training and subsequent career in nutrition, and end with some thoughts about the future. It has not been possible to give a comprehensive account of my many years of nutrition research, so I have selected a few events that might amuse readers. Also, due to the lack of space, I have been unable to mention all the wonderful colleagues and friends with whom I have interacted, but, if they read this article, they know who they are. Unfortunately, a growing number are no longer with us and I would like to pay tribute to them and their important contribution to human nutrition.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Jacobs A, Miles PM. Intraluminal transport of iron from stomach to small-intestinal mucosa. BMJ. 1969;4:778–81.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Caprez A, Fairweather-Tait SJ. The effect of heat treatment and particle size of bran on mineral absorption in rats. Br J Nutr. 1982;48:461–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ. The effect of different levels of wheat bran on iron absorption in rats from bread containing similar amounts of phytate. Br J Nutr. 1982;47:243–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ, Wright AJ. The influence of previous iron intake on the estimation of bioavailability of Fe from a test meal given to rats. Br J Nutr. 1984;51:185–91.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Viteri FE. Iron supplementation for the control of iron deficiency in populations at risk. Nutr Rev. 1997;55:195–209.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    WHO. WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2016. Accessed 19 Nov 2019.

  7. 7.

    Fernández-Gaxiola AC, De-Regil LM. Intermittent iron supplementation for reducing anaemia and its associated impairments in adolescent and adult menstruating women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;1:CD009218.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ, Minski MJ, Richardson DP. Iron absorption from a malted cocoa drink fortified with ferric orthophosphate using the stable isotope 58Fe as an extrinsic label. Br J Nutr. 1983;50:51–60.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ, Minski MJ, Singh J. Non-radioisotopic method for measuring iron absorption from a Gambian meal. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987;46:844–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Fairweather-Tait S, Fox T, Wharf SG, Eagles J. The bioavailability of iron in different weaning foods and the enhancing effect of a fruit drink containing ascorbic acid. Pediatr Res. 1995;37:389–94.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Fox TE, Atherton C, Dainty JR, Lewis DJ, Langford NJ, Baxter MJ, et al. Absorption of selenium from wheat, garlic, and cod intrinsically labeled with Se-77 and Se-82 stable isotopes. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2005;75:179–86.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Collings R, Fairweather-Tait SJ, Dainty JR, Roe MA. Low-pH cola beverages do not affect women’s iron absorption from a vegetarian meal. J Nutr. 2011;141:805–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Thompson BA, Sharp PA, Elliott R, Fairweather-Tait SJ. Inhibitory effect of calcium on non-heme iron absorption may be related to translocation of DMT-1 at the apical membrane of enterocytes. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58:8414–7.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Perfecto A, Elgy C, Valsami-Jones E, Sharp P, Hilty F, Fairweather-Tait S. Mechanisms of iron uptake from ferric phosphate nanoparticles in human intestinal Caco-2 cells. Nutrients. 2017;9:E359.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Perfecto A, Rodriguez-Ramiro I, Rodriguez-Celma J, Sharp P, Balk J, Fairweather-Tait S. Pea ferritin stability under gastric pH conditions determines the mechanism of iron uptake in Caco-2 cells. J Nutr. 2018;148:1229–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Dainty JR, Berry R, Lynch SR, Harvey LJ, Fairweather-Tait SJ. Estimation of dietary iron bioavailability from food iron intake and iron status. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e111824.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies). Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for iron. EFSA J. 2015;13:4254.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ, Jennings A, Harvey LJ, Berry R, Walton J, Dainty JR. Modeling tool for calculating dietary iron bioavailability in iron-sufficient adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105:1408–14.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Fairweather-Tait S, Speich C, Mitchikp’ CES, Dainty JR. Dietary iron bioavailability: a simple model that can be used to derive country-specific values for adult men and women. Food Nutr Bull. 2019.

  20. 20.

    Jennings A, Cashman KD, Gillings R, Cassidy A, Tang J, Fraser W, et al. A Mediterranean-like dietary pattern with vitamin D3 (10 µg/d) supplements reduced the rate of bone loss in older Europeans with osteoporosis at baseline: results of a 1-y randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;108:633–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Jennings A, Berendsen AM, de Groot LCPGM, Feskens EJM, Brzozowska A, Sicinska E, et al. Mediterranean-style diet improves systolic blood pressure and arterial stiffness in older adults. Hypertension. 2019;73:578–86.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Jennings A, Tang J, Gillings R, Perfecto A, Dutton J, Speakman J, et al. Changing from a Western to a Mediterranean-style diet does not affect iron or selenium status: results of the New Dietary Strategies Addressing the Specific Needs of the Elderly Population for Healthy Aging in Europe (NU-AGE) 1-year randomized clinical trial in elderly Europeans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019.

  23. 23.

    Hurrell R, Bothwell T, Cook JD, Dary O, Davidsson L, Fairweather-Tait S, et al. The usefulness of elemental iron for cereal flour fortification: a SUSTAIN Task Force report. Sharing United States Technology to Aid in the Improvement of Nutrition. Nutr Rev. 2002;60:391–406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Johnston BC, Zeraatkar D, Han MA, Vernooij RWM, Valli C, Dib RE, et al. Unprocessed red meat and processed meat consumption: dietary guideline recommendations from the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium. Ann Intern Med. 2019;171:756–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kassebaum NJ, Jasrasaria R, Naghavi M, Wulf SK, Johns N, Lozano R, et al. A systematic analysis of global anemia burden from 1990 to 2010. Blood. 2014;123:615–24.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Fairweather-Tait SJ. Studies on the availability of iron in potatoes. Br J Nutr. 1983;50:15–23.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Susan J. Fairweather-Tait.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fairweather-Tait, S.J. Reminiscences of my life as a nutritionist—and looking to the future. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 537–542 (2020).

Download citation