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Eat eggs for vitamin D

06/01/2012

With one of the wettest ever summers behind us and the dark days of winter stretching out till March, vitamin D deficiency is an increasing problem for Brits. Figures show that up to a third of adults [1] and four in ten children [2] lack the so-called ‘sunshine vitamin’ in Winter, putting them at risk of bone problems, falls, poor immune function and even heart disease.  Topping up on foods rich in vitamin D, such as eggs, is one way to tackle this.

Most vitamin D stores in the body come from sun exposure during the summer months, so a poor summer combined with low vitamin D intakes can set us on a course towards deficiency. More than 90% of adults and children consume less than the European Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 5 micrograms. Government data [3] recently found that average intakes of vitamin D were lower than they were 10 years ago across most age groups.

Eggs are one of the few foods that are a natural source of vitamin D, with one medium egg providing 18 per cent of your RDA. Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, helping to keep bones and teeth healthy. It also supports normal functioning of the immune system – essential for warding off colds and flu during the Winter.

Recent research suggests that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes [4]. Previously, experts have warned that a lack of vitamin D in pregnancy can lead to a child suffering rickets and longer-term problems such as schizophrenia and Type 1 diabetes [5].

Furthermore, in 2010 a study showed a link between low levels of vitamin D and mental impairment in older people [6]. It is estimated that a high percentage of older people suffer from vitamin D deficiency which is often associated with fractures, falls, depression, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue and heart disease.

Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Carrie Ruxton, says: “The recent reports on health problems linked with vitamin D deficiency highlight that people should not compromise their health by waiting until they’re vitamin D deficient. The vital role of vitamin D in maintaining health, especially the immune system, combined with our limited exposure to the sun in the UK, emphasises the important role that dietary sources of vitamin D, such as eggs, can play. Eggs are one of the best natural sources of the sunshine vitamin as well as other vitamins and minerals that help to maintain health.”

Eating eggs as part of a balanced diet is a great way to boost vitamins and minerals in our diets. Indeed, a study published in 2010, in the journal Nutrition & Food Science, revealed that eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods that money can buy, and recommended we should be eating at least one egg a day to get the optimum benefits [7].

References

  1. National Diet & Nutrition Surveys (2000, 2003). London: Food Standards Agency.
  2. Hill et al (2008) British J Nutrition 99: 1061–1067.
  3. B Bates, A Lennox, C Bates, G Swan. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline results from Years 1 and 2 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2009/10). Department of Health and Food Standards Agency.
  4. M. Olson, N. Maalouf, J. Oden, P. White, M. Hutchison. Vitamin D Deficiency in Obese Children and Its Relationship to Glucose. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Jan 2012.
  5. V. Holmes, M. Barnes, H. Alexander, P. McFaul, J. Wallace. Vitamin D Deficiency and Insufficiency in Pregnant Women: A Longitudinal Study. British Journal of Nutrition. Sept 2009.
  6. D. Llewellyn, I. Lang, K. Lango, G. Muniz-Terrera, C. Phillips, A. Cherubini, L. Ferrucci, D. Melzer. Vitamin D and Risk of Cognitive Decline in Elderly Persons. Archives of Internal Medicine. July 2010.
  7. Ruxton C, Derbyshire E, Gibson S (2010). The nutritional properties and health benefits of eggs. Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 40 No. 3.