WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 — Mention vitamin D-fortified foods and most people think of milk, which has been fortified with the sunshine vitamin since the 1930s. A new episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions” podcast series says that vitamin D-fortified bread could join milk as a mainstay for providing an essential nutrient that is difficult to get naturally in foods.
The video points out that millions of people are unable to get enough vitamin D from food or sunlight (which enables the body to make its own vitamin D). Scientists report evidence in the podcast that a new vitamin D-fortified food — bread made with high-vitamin D yeast — could fill that gap. Their study, confirming that the approach works in laboratory tests, appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Far from just contributing to healthy bones, vitamin D seems to have body-wide beneficial effects, according to lead author Connie Weaver, Ph.D., Department of Foods & Nutrition, Purdue University. Weaver says that vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, allergy in children and other conditions. With few good natural sources of vitamin D, milk producers long have added it to milk.
“There have been doubts that high concentrations of vitamin D would work in bread,” she explains in the video. “This is because yeast produces one form of the vitamin, termed vitamin D2, which has been thought to be not as biologically active as the form produced by sun, vitamin D3. But our study showed that bread made with vitamin D2-rich yeast, fed to the laboratory rats, had effects that seemed just as beneficial as vitamin D3. These results suggest that bread made with high vitamin D yeast could be a valuable new source of vitamin D in the diet.”
Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health. During the 2011 global celebration of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions also is focusing on the main themes of IYC — health, environment, energy, and materials.