Vitamin D makes free-range eggs better for you

Eggs from free-range hens are healthier to eat, a new study has found.

Researchers discovered that yolks from birds that are allowed to wander outdoors contain up to 30 per cent more vitamin D than those from birds kept in sheds or cages. The vital hormone has been shown to help keep at bay a range of diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but is found naturally in only a handful of foods. And so millions of Britons become deficient in vitamin D over the winter as it’s mainly generated when the sun’s rays hit the skin.

Scientists from Reading University analysed the contents of 270 eggs on sale in UK supermarkets. They found that hens with access to outdoor runs – including those that meet 'free range' standards – produce yolks containing significantly more of the 'sunshine vitamin'.

But eggs from organic farms - which allow hens the greatest freedom of all - also have elevated levels of a form called 25-hydroxy D3, which is especially protective of human health.

The study, published in the journal Food Chemistry, states: ‘The vitamin D nutrition of birds is similar to that of humans; vitamin D is either synthesised by ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or consumed in the diet. Unlike the conventional indoor egg production system, free range and organic birds have more opportunity to be exposed to sunlight as they can access pasture continuously during the day.

Source  - Daily Mail