Nutrients that are key to the formation of bones, teeth and muscles. Therefore, vitamin D plays a critical role in the body by fulfilling key functions in reducing inflammation and infections, as well as decreasing the growth of cancer cells, acting in neuromuscular and immune functions, among others.
Despite all the positive aspects of vitamin D, it is often not possible to supply this nutritional requirement in the diet because very few foods naturally contain this vitamin. Therefore, it is necessary to supplement, otherwise, people or animals may be more vulnerable to diseases.
As mentioned, foods rich in vitamin D are limited, but it is here where the egg appears as one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D along with fish oil, red meat, liver, among others. In the case of eggs, most of the nutrients such as fats, vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.
It has been reported that one yolk of a large egg may contain about 37 IU (International Units) of vitamin D, which could represent that by consuming a whole egg, approximately 41 IU of this nutrient can be obtained.
A recent study in Australia aimed to randomly assess the effects of egg consumption on serum 25-(OH)-D (25-hydroxy-vitamin D, considered the most accurate measure of the amount of vitamin D in the body) concentrations during autumn and winter. In this study it was shown that the consumption of 7 eggs per week is a safe, acceptable and effective way to avoid the reduction in serum 25(OH)D concentrations during winter.
As is well known, the nutritional contribution of eggs is linked to the feed and nutrition the hens receive. Currently, most hen production systems are confined, which makes exposure to direct sunlight difficult to obtain endogenous vitamin D.
This makes the supplementation of good sources of vitamin D important in each of the growth and production phases of laying hens. Therefore, since there are few raw materials with high levels of this vitamin, it must be included in the diet at adequate formulated levels to avoid deficiencies or excesses
Some nutritional strategies for laying hens include the addition of vitamin D analogues as a source of vitamin D.
Briefly, these compounds are intermediate metabolites in the vitamin D absorption process, which are activated when they pass through the liver or kidneys of the birds, thus releasing active vitamin D compounds into the bloodstream, which allows the absorption and other metabolic functions of this vitamin.
In this way, the hens achieve an adequate transfer of vitamin D to the eggs, reaching optimal levels of supplementation for the daily requirements of people.
Vitamin D intake can be measured in micrograms (µg) or IU. The recommended daily intake levels of vitamin D according to the U.S. National Institute of Health are:
Babies 0-12 months 400 IU (10 µg)
Children 1-18 years 600 IU (15 µg)
Adults up to 70 years 600 IU (15 µg)
Adults over 70 years 800 IU (20 µg)
Pregnant or nursing women 600 IU (15 µg)
Vitamin D deficiency occurs due to low vitamin D intake, poor absorption, and poor sun exposure. It has been reported that vitamin D deficiencies can lead to the development of rickets in children, and osteomalacia in youth and adults. Additionally, a lack of vitamin D is associated with an increase in heart disease, sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune conditions.
It is important to mention that the most common way to obtain vitamin D is through its endogenous form once sunlight penetrates the skin and activates the synthesis of this vitamin, being this route considered the main source of vitamin D.
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