‘Significant’ vitamin D egg findings should drive industry use, says director

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Industry should push the vitamin D benefits of eggs, says director of British Egg Information Service
Industry should push the vitamin D benefits of eggs, says director of British Egg Information Service

Related tags Nutrition

New findings that suggest one medium-sized egg can provide around 66% of vitamin D RDA should prompt increased industry use, says the director of the British Egg Information Service.

UK-wide analysis was conducted to profile the nutritional composition of eggs in March/April 2011 with final findings set for publication in Autumn this year.

The research marks part of a wider four-year project consortium - UKFoodComp - funded by the Department of Health to update data on the nutritional composition of foods.

Just over 3,000 eggs were sampled from three packaging centres across the UK – in Nottinghamshire, Kent and Shropshire – and included caged varieties and free-range.

The findings showed that 100g of eggs now contain more than 70% more vitamin D than data suggested 30 years ago.

Per egg, this means that one medium-sized egg can provide around two-thirds (66%) of the RDA (recommended daily allowance for EU labelling purposes) for vitamin D, the British Egg Information Service said.

The changes are believed to be the result of improvements to hens’ feed, an increase in the ratio of white:yolk in an average egg, and improved analytical methods since the last official Government analyses were carried out in the 1980s. 

Amanda Cryer, director of the British Egg Information Service, said that these findings had extremely significant implications.

“Eggs are often overlooked as a healthy food choice,”​ Cryer told FoodNavigator.

But with these findings, “we are going to be able to reinforce our message that eggs are a healthy food choice”​, she said.

Vitamin D – the sexy industry subject

“Vitamin D is a sexy subject at the moment,”​ Cryer said, and with these new findings “I would hope it will encourage food manufacturers to reconsider the use of eggs”.

While many manufacturers are flocking to egg-replacement alternatives amid price hikes in the egg market, she detailed that “the crisis is not going to last forever”.

“These findings could potentially drive the use of eggs in the industry,”​ the director said.

Vitamin D deficiency across the UK is a growing concern, she said, especially among children and so “I think there is a clear opportunity here to promote eggs to children”.

Healthier in more ways than one…

The research also found that eggs contain around double the level of selenium than 30 years ago – an antioxidant mineral that is also linked to immune boosting.

However, Cryer detailed these findings would unlikely prompt consumers to consume more eggs as “selenium is not such a publically well-known mineral”.

Data from the research also suggested that eggs now contain 20% less fat, more than 20% less saturated fat and around 13% fewer calories.

The British Egg Information Service converted this into per-egg figures, meaning that an average medium egg now contains 66 calories, rather than the previous figure of 78 and an average large egg has 77 calories instead of 91.

The UKFoodComp project consortium is led by the Institute of Food Research and comprises of partners including the British Nutrition Foundation, Roydal Society of Chemistry, Laboratory of the Government Chemist and Eurofins Laboratories.

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Are eggs good vitamin D sources?

Posted by Alexander Schauss, PhD, FACN,

It would have been helpful to have had some mention of which "vitamin D" the British Egg Information Service and others were referring to. I mention this in light of recent evidence that vitamin D2 interferes with the properties of vitamin D3. A randomized, double-blind trial found that ergocalciferol (D2), consumed as a supplement or included in a meal, increased 25-hydroxyergocalciferol (vitamin D2 serum) levels while almost equally decreasing 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (D3 serum) levels. For every four units of D2, the level of D3 in serum decreased by three units.

Stephensen CB, Zerofsky M, Burnett DJ, Lin YP, Hammock BD, Hall LM, McHugh T. Ergocalciferol from mushrooms or supplements consumed with a standard meal increases 25-hydroxyergocalciferol but decreases 25-hydroxycholecalciferol in the serum of healthy adults. J Nutr. 2012;142(7): 1246-52.

The authors offered three possible explanations for the decreases seen in vitamin D3 levels as a result of vitamin D2 supplementation:

1. The possibility that increased intake of D2 accelerates the breakdown of D3 by increasing the activity of the 24-hydroxylase, the enzyme responsible for the catabolism of D3. However, compounds involved in this breakdown were measured in this study and there were no significant elevations, meaning that there wasn’t increased activity.

2. That a negative reaction might occur between D2 and D3 in the liver, where increased D2 consumption could inhibit 25(OH)D production in general, so the body doesn’t more readily convert D3 into 25(OH)D.

3. There could be competition between D2 and D3 for absorption in the gut, although unlikely since most D3 would have been from skin production in this study.

The point is, the two vitamins are not the same, from a functional or physiological perspective. This is important information for your readers to know given the growing importance of this nutrient to human health.

So what is the impact of vitamin D serum status in humans eating one or more eggs a day? Until the results of this study are published in a peer review journal, we won't know.

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How Delightful - More industry sponsored propaganda

Posted by Jerry Segers,

The British Egg Information Service has finally discovered what Mother Earth news published years ago. Namely that "Our latest tests show that pastured eggs have anywhere between 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs." (1)
Once again, we find a flawed industry study. They added real free range eggs to the study group so they could show an increase in the Vitamin D content of the group while doing nothing to change the actual amount of vitamin D in the majority of eggs sold.
There is no vitamin D in chicken feed. The vitamin D is created when the chickens live in sunlight. Caged chickens get no sunlight so no vitamin D.

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Interesting story

Posted by Seth Kaplan,

Who knew that The British Egg Information Service existed? How does one become Director of such an organization?

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