February 20, 2016

Whole Eggs Hold Possible Key for Vitamin D Deficiency

A simple change in diet could boost vitamin D levels for millions of Americans suffering from Type 2 diabetes, according to new research from Iowa State University published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. No wonder my vitamin D levels are higher than expected. When you eat more than a dozen eggs per week, I was not aware that this would help my vitamin D levels.

I just know that a couple of my doctors go ballistic when I talk about the number of eggs I eat. Then they insist on increasing the dosage of the statins I take. Fat chance as I never fill the prescriptions and I plan to stop all statins by the end of this month.

The fact that this is a rodent study is disappointing because many rodent studies do not translate to humans. Vitamin D is important for bone health and many diseases, but people with diabetes have trouble retaining it along with other nutrients because of poor kidney function.

Iowa State researchers are most interested in 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 (25D) – the form of vitamin D in the blood that reflects vitamin D status. For that reason, it made sense to test eggs in the diet rather than other foods containing vitamin D or a supplement. Eggs are the richest source of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 in the diet, and there isn't any conversion required to make it into the blood. If you take it in a supplement or food fortified with vitamin D, it has to be converted to that form. In addition, eggs are a complete source of protein.

Concentrations of 25D were 148 percent higher for the egg-fed group and plasma triglyceride concentrations – a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – dropped 52 percent.

Rowling and colleagues Kevin Schalinske, professor of food science and human nutrition, and Samantha Jones, a graduate research assistant, are still working to understand why more vitamin D is retained from eggs than supplements. They say it may be related to other components found in eggs.

Please do not skip the egg yolk, which makes for the complete protein and provides all of the 25D is only in the yolk. This is what makes the eggs complete and all the nutrients are in the yolk. Eggs are relatively inexpensive and readily available. From a vitamin D standpoint, you want to consume the whole egg.

The next step is to determine the minimal amount of eggs needed in the diet to yield a benefit. The study was designed to replace protein in the diet, so the rats were fed the equivalent of 17 to 18 eggs daily. However, based on the results and the severity of the rats' diabetes, researchers expect a much lower dosage will be effective in humans. They also want to know if health benefits are enhanced when additional dietary constituents that promote the maintenance of vitamin D status and reduction of diabetic symptoms, such as fiber, are added to the diet.

You may need even less eggs if you combine it with something else that does not provide vitamin D per se, but rather protects the kidney and prevents loss of vitamin D. Understanding what's going on with egg consumption, promoting vitamin D balance, and making sure there's a linkage to outcomes whether it's bone health or kidney health is of utmost importance.

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