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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 2 December 2020

Cork lab looks to make salmon our new source of Vitamin D

We’re now entering into the darkest months of the year, when our bodies can absorb the least Vitamin D.

Image: winter sun via Shutterstock

THE CLOCKS GOING back will mean brighter mornings but darker evenings.

You’ll now have even less of a chance to get a glimpse of sunlight – and little or no chance for our bodies to produce Vitamin D.

This is a major issue in Ireland, as a combination of a pale-skinned population with five months where there isn’t enough direct sunlight for our bodies to produce this vitamin means there is a risk of deficiency.

Living an office-bound lifestyle already results in our body not being able to produce Vitamin D, which is vital for bone health.

Researchers at Cork’s Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station are part of a Europe-wide team investigating how this vitamin can be better incorporated into our diets.

Currently, some diary products, such as milk, are fortified with Vitamin D.

However, researchers have highlighted two main issues with this – not everyone drinks milk, and those who do might not drink enough fortified milk – so they are looking at other food stuffs. First up – fish.

“Our role in this project is to fortify Atlantic salmon with vitamin D,” a spokesperson said, and trials have begun this week.

While not much can be revealed, the process involves micro and macro algae.

“This is important given that the world’s wild fish stocks are being over-exploited resulting in growth in the aquaculture industry in Europe.”

It has been found that farmed salmon do not contain as much vitamin D as wild salmon due to differences in their diets. We are using four different levels of vitamin D over a period of three months to determine how inclusion of additional vitamin D in their diet will translate into their flesh.

“The trial which started this week will initially look at how the vitamin D is taken up by the salmon over the 3 month period. Trials being undertaken by other partners will look at how a selected number of fortified foods effect the vitamin D levels in consumers.”

It is part of a multi-million euro collaborative project known as ODIN (or ‘food-based solutions for Optimal vitamin D Nutrition and health throughout the life cycle’, if you prefer) that is looking at a range issues surrounding Vitamin D, from dietary requirements during pregnancy, health outcomes, and how much Vitamin D populations across Europe receive.

This is being coordinated by University College Cork.

The project’s €7.95 million budget is funded by the European Union to the tune of around €6 million.

Read: Irish scientists aim to use seaweed to sustainably create bioplastics >

More: Shops could STILL be codding customers with mislabelled fish >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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