Genetically modified tomatoes to provide more vitamin D.

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Fish and dairy products are the best dietary sources of vitamin D, and those who follow a plant-based diet struggle to get enough of the micronutrients they need. Vitamin D helps protect bones and keep muscles and teeth healthy.

Now a team of researchers has discovered a new and vegetarian source of vitamin D: tomatoes The gene modified using CRISPR-Cas9 technology contained a precursor of vitamin D.

If this process is taken commercially by farmers and growers, these tomatoes could help address vitamin D deficiency, a study that affects 1 billion people worldwide.

“This exciting discovery not only benefits human health, but also contributes to the environmental benefits of plant-based nutrition – often due to the difficulty of providing some of the keys and minerals that are common and bioavailable in animal products,” said Professor Guy Poppy of the University of Southampton. said the Science Media Center in London. He did not participate in the study.

Vitamin D supplements are common in many countries, but the Kathy Martin, a professor at the John Innes Center in Norwich, England, says that eating tomatoes is “much better than taking pills.”

“I think having a plant-based dietary source (vitamin D) also means that you can get extra benefits from eating tomatoes. We don’t eat vegetables anyway. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, ”he said news briefing.

The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Plants on Monday.

The main source of vitamin D for most people is diet, however Our bodies also produce micronutrients when the skin is exposed to UVB light why is sometimes called sunlight vitamin. Researchers have used a similar process in tomato plants.

The compound that makes up vitamin D in the skin is known as 7-DHC or provitamin D3, and it is also found in the leaves of tomato plants and unripe green fruits.

Researchers have blocked a gene that converts provitamin D3 into cholesterol in tomato plants. Provitamin D3 is concentrated in ripe tomatoes.

Tomatoes have been treated with UVB light to convert provitamin D3 into vitamin D3, which helps the body. Studies show that provitamin D3 in one tomato, once converted to vitamin D3, is equivalent to the amount of vitamin D3 in two medium-sized eggs or 28 grams (1 ounce) of tuna.

A test in the UK is assessing where tomato plants are grown in the open and where they will be naturally affected. Sunlight automatically converts 7-DHC to vitamin D3. According to Martin, the first fruits ripen in late June. Tomatoes can be dried in the sun after harvesting, which eliminates the need for UVB treatment, he added.

The British Parliament passed a new law earlier this year to make it easier to test genetically modified plants.

The gene-blocking method, which researchers are making freely available with the paper’s publication, could be applied to other legumes such as bell peppers, chili, eggplant and potatoes, Martin said.

Researchers say that mushrooms can be a source of vitamin D when treated with UVB light or when grown in the wild. However, these plants produced more vitamin D2 than they received from meat and dairy products, according to the paper.

Also, vitamin D3 supplements are not usually vegetarian, says Susan Lanham, a professor of nutrition at the University of Surrey in the UK. He did not participate in the study.

“The main source is lanolin (for D3) from sheep’s wool. Sheep are still alive, so this is good for vegetarians. But it’s not for vegetarians, and one of the amazing things about this study is that you have a source of D3 (from a plant), ”he said at the briefing.

Researchers say that the leaves of genetically modified tomatoes also contain a lot of provitamin D. They were looking at ways to convert these waste into vegetarian vitamin D supplements. The research team hoped that this would motivate growers to plant and produce biofortified tomatoes.

One of the authors, Jie Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the John Innes Center, said that genetically modified tomatoes were no different from ordinary tomatoes and tasted similar, and that genetic modification did not affect the growth, development, or yield of the plan.

Scientists who developed the CRISPR-Cas9 gene repair technology won the 2020 Nobel Prize. This tool has a profound impact on biomedical research, clinical medicine, agriculture and farming. Like scissors, it targets predefined sites in genetic material, destroys a specific gene, or introduces new genetic material.

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