British scientists have discovered a way to edit the genes of tomatoes so that they can be a rich, vegan source of vitamin D.
According to a new study published in the journal Nature, a team of researchers led by scientists at the John Innes Centre have successfully been able to make tomatoes a great source of vitamin D, which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies. These nutrients are what keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy (not milk!). Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone pain, depression, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Vitamin D is created in our bodies from exposure to the sun, and it is also found in food products like meat and dairy. However, although often forgotten, vitamin D is also found in numerous fruits and veggies like mushrooms, spinach, oranges, bananas, and others. Tomato leaves contain one of the building blocks of vitamin D3, which is thought to be the best at raising vitamin D levels in our body.
The scientists used this vitamin D3 in the tomato leaves to edit the plant’s genome so that the vitamin accumulates in not only the leaves but the fruit as well. They found that when leaves and sliced fruit were exposed to UV light for an hour, one tomato had the equivalent levels of vitamin D as two medium eggs or 28 grams of tuna, according to the paper.
Although it could take some time before we see these types of tomatoes or other foods hit the shelves, it’s an amazing discovery that could change the future of how we get out vitamin D! In the meantime, check out these 10 vegan vitamin D supplements!
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- Myth Vs. Reality: How Much Vitamin D Do We Really Need?
- A Green Monster’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Vitamin D
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