New data has revealed that today’s eggs contain 70% more vitamin D than they did 30 years ago.
According to the UK Foodcomp and Department of Health, eggs today have 20% less saturated fat, 13% fewer calories and 10% less cholesterol than eggs in the 1980s.
An average medium egg now contains 66 calories (compared to the previous figure of 78 calories 30 years ago) and an average large egg 77 calories (previously 91 calories).
The new analysis, being presented at The Nutrition Society’s Summer Meeting today, found that two medium eggs can provide around two-thirds of the RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) for vitamin D.
Professor Judith Buttriss, Director General of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF), said in a statement: ‘This is the latest in a series of analyses from the DH-funded UK Foodcomp project that provide up to date information on the composition of the food we eat.
"These particular data reinforce the contribution to essential nutrients that eggs can make as part of a varied diet, for people of all ages.”
The nutritional 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.
Vegetable oils replaced meat and bonemeal in UK hens’ feed in the 1980s and it is believed that better quality oils, together with other enhancements to hens’ feed, have improved the hens’ absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.
Paul Finglas from UK Foodcomp project at the Institute of Food Research said in a statement: ‘The results from this project are important for monitoring the quality of our national diets through surveys such as the Department of Health’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, and show the benefits of private-public partnerships working together to support new research projects.’
The additional vitamin D found in eggs is particularly significant in the light of evidence suggesting that a large proportion of people in the UK have an inadequate supply of this vitamin.
According to recent research by food industry analyst Phil Lempert, this could be due to a scarcity of foods containing vitamin D.
"Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, shrimp and fish liver oils are the best sources," Lempert told UPI.com.
"Vitamin D can also be found in small amounts in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and some mushrooms."
Find out how to top up your vitamin D levels with these simple dietary changes...
Mushrooms have the capacity to produce vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. But because they are usually grown in the dark, not all mushrooms have the essential vitamin in them. Portabello mushrooms on the other hand, are grown under an ultra-violet light, which means they are rich in vitamin D.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are a great source of vitamin D. They are packed with an antioxidant called astanxanin, which helps the body create a natural sunscreen. Great for protecting your skin from the sun, whilst also getting an adequate amount of sunshine.
A little bit of sunshine spurs the body to make more vitamin D. Due to risks of skin cancer, it's best to stick to a small amount each day with low, or little sunscreen to enable your body to fully absorb the rays.
If you want a quick vitamin D fix, stock up on vitamins and supplements. These aren't to be used as a food replacement but they do help boost your vitamin D intake. Just be aware that there is such a thing as too much vitamin D, so make sure you read the label. Cod liver oil is also a great supplement to help increase the body's vitamin D levels.