Increasing the vitamin content of eggs

Vitamins and eggs

Of the 13 commonly accepted vitamins, all except vitamin C are present in the egg. The lipid-rich yolk acts as a primary reservoir for fat-soluble vitamins, as well as their water-soluble counterparts. Two conventional large eggs can provide an estimated 30% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for riboflavin, more than 60% of vitamin K and about 15% of vitamin A and D, folate, and vitamin B12. Eggs can offer real potential to improve maternal and child nutrition in developing countries, end hunger and achieve food security in a sustainable way. Studies promoting egg consumption for women and children as part of wider dietary improvements show that child growth indicators are significantly improved in the intervention group compared to controls. Similarly, a recent breakthrough research study showed that all nine essential amino acids were significantly lower in stunted children compared with non-stunted children. This tells us that increased intake of quality protein from eggs can help to promote optimal development in children. Studies have recognized a direct link between feed and the vitamin content of eggs. The chemical complexity of vitamins, their absorption and body storage characteristics, as well as the biological variation inherent in hens, causes the feed-to-egg transfer to occur with considerable variation. While eggs are a highly nutritious food source, both the productivity of laying hens and the nutritional content of their eggs are a function of the hen’s dietary intake. For laying hens, an optimally micronutrient fortified diet improves egg production in numerous ways, including increased egg yield, improved egg weight, percentage lay and increased feed efficiency. For many micronutrients, the egg content responds rapidly to dietary changes and transfer efficiency, from feed to egg, depends on the micronutrient. In eggs, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can be increased several-fold, with as much as nearly a 300-fold increase in vitamin D3.

Most watersoluble vitamins can be boosted 2-6 times.

Vitamins on egg production are as follows:

Vitamin A
The deposition of elevated vitamin A occurs with a 2-4 fold or more increase in egg yolk. Supplemented with 16,000 IU/kg feed, hens produced yolks with more than twice that of hens fed vitamin A at NRC. A 2003 study reported 36.6 and 53.3% higher yolk retinol for hens supplemented with 15,000 and 30,000 IU vitamin A/kg feed.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 in eggs varies considerably, as egg yolks are especially responsive to this vitamin. For example, studies have reported 7-fold elevations in yolk vitamin D3 when feeding 4 to 5 times more vitamin D3 than is typical.

When 25(OH)D3 was fed to layers at levels of 0, 34.5 and 69.0 μg/kg feed, yolks weighed 2.23, 3.84 and 6.12 μg/100g respectively, representing nearly a 3-fold increase from diets without added 25(OH)D3.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E content in yolk can be increased 18-fold and, overall, the egg content of vitamin E is responsive to changes in dietary levels. It has also been found to be affected by hen-to-hen variation of deposition, type and level of fat and oil, as well as high temperatures and the selenium source. DSM offers a wide portfolio of vitamin solutions that have been proven to enhance egg production, performance and nutritional status. In this context, DSM’s Optimum Vitamin Nutrition (OVNTM) guidelines offer forward-thinking supplementation support to enable livestock and egg producers to feed animals the right amounts of vitamins to optimize health and performance within the specific needs of their life stage and growing conditions.


With the prevalence of malnutrition growing in many countries, it may be beneficial to place more significance on the egg, which has been found to be a rich source of many essential vitamins and nutrients. In light of this, DSM is partnering with the International Egg Commission, an organization dedicated to the sharing of knowledge, expertise and developments in egg nutrition globally. Improving nutrition is an important step in addressing micronutrient deficiencies and supporting optimal development, and is a key factor in contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To increase the nutrient content of eggs, producers can take steps at the feeding stage to ensure that the end consumer is getting the most from their eggs and they are playing their part in ending hunger and improving global nutrition.

The importance of eggs

The prevalence of malnutrition is growing in countries across the globe. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report1 stated that, “Malnutrition and diet are by far the biggest risk factors for the global burden of disease”. Addressing the issues in nutrition is a real challenge, and DSM is working to make the most of its expertise in health and nutrition to develop fortified food and micronutrient products to improve the global nutritional status. These solutions play a key role in the global drive to meet UN sustainable development goals (SDG) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, towards which DSM’s business strategy has a long-term commitment. Optimal child growth and development can have a direct effect on health and wellbeing throughout an individual’s lifetime. This calls for ensuring that there is adequate micronutrient consumption and protein in the diet, especially during critical life stages such as pregnancy, lactation, infancy and adolescence. A consequence of this is that there is a growing interest in and market for specialty eggs that include higher vitamin levels. It has become clear that eggs are a potential gold mine of essential nutrients and vitamins and, across many parts of the world and people are beginning to rethink the humble egg. In other words, eggs can play a major role in the global drive towards zero hunger, good health and wellbeing and, as a consequence, toward the accomplishment of sustainable development goals.

References are available upon request.

Published on

28 November 2019


  • Vitamins
  • Layer
  • Poultry


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