Diet: Increase the vitamin D content in eggs from a solarium for chickens?

Increase the vitamin D content of eggs by means of UV lighting for chickens

According to health experts, many people in Germany are not optimally supplied with vitamin D. The important vitamin is formed by the action of sun rays in human skin, but it can also be ingested through foods such as chicken eggs. Scientists have now found a new way to further increase the vitamin D content in eggs: by UV lighting for the chickens.

Widespread vitamin D deficiency

Studies have shown that a large proportion of children and adolescents as well as around half of those over 65 in Germany have more or less reduced levels of vitamin D. In general, the vitamin D supply in Germany is considered to be poor. That is why foods such as mushrooms are always fortified with vitamin D. German scientists have now taken a different path. They have shown that the vitamin D content of eggs can be increased for the chickens by UV lighting.

Intake also through food

Vitamin D has many important functions in the human body.

According to experts, in the summer months people can cover around 90 percent of their vitamin D needs by themselves: The action of sun rays - or special portions of light from the UV range - form it in human skin.

Ideally, humans consume the rest through food, for example fatty fish or chicken eggs, which naturally contain vitamin D.

“Because of their lifestyle, many people are not optimally supplied with vitamin D. The problem worsens in the winter months when there is little sun, ”explains nutritionist Dr. Julia Kühn from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) in a communication.

A vitamin D deficiency can result in brittle bones and an increased risk of respiratory diseases.

Increase vitamin D content in foods

A team of nutritional and agricultural scientists from the MLU was looking for a way to increase the vitamin D content in food, in this case in eggs.

"The idea was to stimulate the natural vitamin D production in chickens with the help of UV lamps in the chicken coop in order to increase the egg content," explains Kühn.

In previous studies, the researchers were able to show that their approach basically works if the chicken's legs are illuminated with UV light.

“However, we always had ideal test conditions for this. Only one chicken came on a lamp. In chicken farms, however, there is a significantly higher stocking density than ours, which means a lot more animals, ”says the researcher.

The new study was to serve to check the method for its practical suitability and therefore took place in two chicken farms.

According to the information, two different chicken breeds, different lamp types and different long lighting times were compared with the UV light per day.

Chickens can see UV light

The scientists not only continuously analyzed the vitamin D content of the newly laid eggs during the test period, but also examined the consequences of the additional lighting for the animals.

“Humans cannot see UV light, but chickens can. That is why the light regime is an important topic for keeping chickens, because the light influences behavior and laying activity, ”explains Prof. Dr. Eberhard von Borell, animal husbandry expert at the MLU.

His working group used video recordings to analyze animal behavior. The researchers also inspected the feathers of the chickens for injuries from other animals in order to assess their activity and aggression potential.

The research team's idea worked: After just three weeks with six hours of UV light every day, the vitamin D content in the eggs was increased three to four times. This value could not be increased further in the following weeks.

As the message says, the additional UV light apparently did not cause any problems for the chickens. The animals neither avoided the areas of the lamps, nor did they show any other behavior.

As a result, the researchers come to the conclusion that their method also works under practical conditions and that an important step towards a better supply of the population with vitamin D would be possible.

The results of the study were published in the specialist magazine "Poultry Science". (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

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