Scientists have cleared the way for gene-edited tomatoes to be used as a vegan source of Vitamin D.

A team of scientists from the John Innes Centre in Norwich modified the genetic composition of tomatoes to make them a rich source of vitamin D, which controls minerals like calcium that are essential for the health of bones, teeth, and muscles.

Although vitamin D is produced in our bodies as a result of sun exposure, its primary source is diet, particularly dairy and meat.

Given that vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and dementia, biofortifying fruits and vegetables with the nutrient could possibly go a long way towards improving public health.

Tomato leaves naturally contain 7-DHC, one of the building blocks of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is thought to be the most effective in increasing vitamin D levels in the body.

Because of the positive results, scientists are recommending tomatoes as the next plant-based, long-term source of vitamin D3. They aren’t likely to be the last.

The Crispr tool, which works like a pair of genetic scissors, was used to modify the plant’s genome such that 7-DHC accumulates significantly in the tomato fruit as well as the leaves.

One tomato possessed the equal quantities of vitamin D as two medium-sized eggs or 28 grammes (1 ounce) of tuna after being exposed to UV radiation for an hour, making it a rich source of vitamin d.

Lanolin, which is produced from sheep’s wool, is used in the majority of vitamin D3 supplements. Because the sheep is kept alive, it is suitable for vegetarians but not vegans.

According to Susan Lanham-New, chair of the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Surrey, lichen is a vegan source of vitamin D3, but the research supporting its efficiency is limited, and it is also pricey. IANS

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