Mother Earth News’ study finds pastured eggs have three to six times more than factory-farm eggs

TOPEKA, Kan. (March 6, 2009) – Looking for more vitamin D in your diet? Flock to free-range/pastured eggs. Eggs from free-range hens contain three to six times more vitamin D than typical supermarket eggs, according to a new study conducted by Mother Earth News magazine.

Results showed that free-range eggs (from producers in Texas, Kansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania) were richer in vitamin D than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient data on commercial eggs, which are produced indoors in factory farms. According to the USDA, commercial eggs have 34 IU (international units) per 100 grams. Based on the Mother Earth News findings, two eggs from free-range/pastured hens could provide 63 to 126 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

“Our test results reveal that the unnatural and inhumane conditions of factory farms are giving us substandard food. Consumers will get more nutritious eggs if they pay a premium for true free-range eggs from birds raised on pasture,” said Cheryl Long, editor in chief of Mother Earth News.

Humans can get vitamin D from certain foods or from skin exposure to sunlight. Most people lack sufficient vitamin D, especially in the winter, because they don’t go outside enough.

“Only a few foods, including eggs, are good natural sources of vitamin D, making the nutritional gap between free-range and factory-farm eggs significant to the big picture,” said Long.

Insufficient levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. The official recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 200 IU for young adults and 400 IU for adults ages 51-70, but some experts are recommending higher amounts as more is discovered about how vitamin D acts in our bodies.

Other recent studies conducted by Mother Earth News have shown that free-range/pastured eggs are more nutritious overall than factory farm eggs, with the pastured eggs containing 2/3 more vitamin A, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene, 2 times more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, 1/3 less cholesterol and 1/4 less saturated fat.

Mother Earth News used an independent accredited research laboratory to test all egg samples. Readers and members of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association provided the samples.