Crystal Dawn Karakochuk

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.

Assistant Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Global Health and Emerging Diseases
Biochemical markers of iron status
Clinical dietetics
Determinants and causes of anemia
Inherited blood disorders (sickle cell, thalassemia, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency)
International nutrition
Maternal and child nutrition
Micronutrients (namely iron, folic acid, and zinc)
Risk-benefit of micronutrient supplementation

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

Randomized Controlled Trials
Nutritional surveys
Human intervention studies

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Crystal has always been extremely supportive and encouraging as a supervisor. She is very easy to talk to and I always feel comfortable to go to her with questions. I know she has my best interest in mind and genuinely cares about my success as a grad student. She is definitely a great supervisor!!!

Kelsey Cochrane (2019)


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
The effect of once weekly folic acid supplementation on red blood cell folate concentrations in women to determine the potential to prevent neural tube defects (2020)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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Investigating the potential risk of untargeted daily oral iron supplementation in Cambodian women of reproductive age (2019)

Background: There is limited evidence regarding the potential risk of untargeted daily oral iron supplementation in women of reproductive age, especially in countries where genetic hemoglobinopathies are common and iron deficiency is not the major cause of anemia. Excess iron exposure can cause increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to cellular (e.g. lipid, DNA) damage. Objective: The aim of this research was to retrospectively assess the effect of daily oral iron supplementation with 60 mg of elemental iron for 12 weeks, compared to placebo, on relative leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content. Methods: In a double-blind randomized controlled trial, non-pregnant Cambodian women aged 18–45 years received 60 mg of elemental iron as ferrous sulphate (n = 201) or a placebo (n = 200) for 12 weeks. Relative LTL and mtDNA content were quantified in buffy coat collected at baseline and endline by monochrome multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MMqPCR) and the change in relative LTL and mtDNA content was determined. Results: Iron supplementation was not associated with an adjusted absolute or percent change in relative LTL after 12 weeks, compared to placebo (ß-coefficient: −0.04 [95% CI: −0.16, 0.08]; P = 0.50 and ß-coefficient: −0.96 [95% CI: −2.69, 0.77]; P = 0.28, respectively). However, iron supplementation was associated with a significantly smaller adjusted absolute and percent increase in mtDNA content after 12 weeks, compared to placebo (ß-coefficient: −11 [95% CI: −20, −2]; P = 0.02 and ß-coefficient: −11 [95% CI: −20, −1]; P = 0.02, respectively). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that daily oral iron supplementation with 60 mg of elemental iron for 12 weeks, as per the World Health Organization (WHO) global policy, may be associated with altered mitochondrial homeostasis. This is concerning and more research is needed to ascertain if there is potential risk associated with untargeted daily oral iron supplementation, to ultimately inform the safety of the WHO policy.

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