British scientists have used a genome-editing process to create a new source of vitamin D in tomatoes.
The amount of vitamin D3, one of the main forms of vitamin D, in genetically edited tomatoes is equal to the amount of two medium-sized eggs or about two tablespoons of tuna, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Plants.
However, it is noted that genetically modified tomatoes have not been developed for commercial use, and it is not yet known how they will behave when grown outdoors, the study said in a statement.
The publication of the new study follows UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid's announcement in April that there would be a formal review to look at vitamin D supplements and drinks to address health inequities associated with vitamin D deficiency.
Officials said the study was launched after data emerged that about one in six adults in the UK has low levels of vitamin D, which can lead to disability and bone pain.
Findings suggest that nearly 20% of children in the UK have levels of vitamin D below government guidelines, and older people, homeless people, blacks and South Asians also have lower vitamin D levels.
The main source of vitamin D, essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, comes from sunlight, but during the late autumn, early spring and winter months in the UK, there is not enough sunlight to get it. This means they rely on dietary sources, which is especially difficult for vegans since plants tend to be poor sources of this nutrient.