If British scientists have their way, two medium-sized tomatoes a day may keep the doctor away.
A research team led by scientists at the John Innes Center in Norwich has edited the genetic makeup of tomatoes to be a strong source of vitamin D, which regulates nutrients like calcium that keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. are mandatory for.
Although vitamin D is made in our bodies after exposure to sunlight, its main source is food, mainly dairy and meat.
The researchers said low vitamin D levels — linked to conditions ranging from cancer to heart disease — affect about 1 billion people globally.
Tomato leaves naturally contain a building block of vitamin D3, called 7-DHC. Vitamin D3 is considered to be the best in increasing the level of Vitamin D in the body.
The scientists used the Crisp tool — which is designed to act like a pair of genetic scissors — to tweak the plant’s genome in such a way that 7-DHC accumulates substantially in tomato fruits, as well as leaves. it happens.
When leaves and cut fruit were exposed to ultraviolet light for an hour, the level of vitamin D in one tomato was equivalent to that of two medium-sized eggs or 28 grams (1 ounce) of tuna, the researchers found in a study published in the journal was written in the paper. Nature plants.
Most vitamin D3 supplements come from lanolin, which is extracted from sheep’s wool. Since sheep are alive, it works for vegetarians, but not vegetarians.
Scientists are now evaluating whether sunlight instead of ultraviolet light can effectively convert 7-DHC into vitamin D3.
New regulations in the UK have allowed researchers to evaluate this theory – but it may be some time before they are ready to hit supermarket shelves.
To close the current gap in vitamin D intake from dietary sources, two medium-sized gene-edited tomatoes should be sufficient, said study lead author Ji Lee, adding that to tell the gene-edited tomato one apart. Its difficult. Wild Tomatoes.
“They taste like tomatoes,” said another study author, Cathy Martin.