Genetically Engineering Tomatoes Could Solve Vitamin D Deficiency Worldwide

By: | July 15th, 2022

Image courtesy : Wikimedia Commons

Vitamin-D deficiency is the most common medical condition worldwide. About one billion people worldwide are affected by vitamin-D deficiency and around 50% of the global population have vitamin-D insufficiency.

Vitamin-D deficiency has been associated with a host of mental and physical symptoms such as increased risk of common cancers, depression, muscle weakness, fatigue, bone aches, hypertension, and more.

The major cause of vitamin-D deficiency is the lack of exposure to sunlight which is the primary source of vitamin-D. You do not absorb enough vitamin-D from food since very few foods naturally contain vitamin-D also known as sunshine vitamin.

Now scientists have used a novel way to genetically engineer tomatoes to Boost Vitamin-D

Tomatoes naturally contain low levels of one of the vitamin-D3 building blocks, provitamin D3, or 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) in their leaves. However, provitamin D3 does not accumulate in ripe tomato fruits.

By manipulating the plant’s genes, the researchers claim that it could help nourish people with too little vitamin-D, regardless of their dietary habits.

This could be a simple and sustainable innovation to address a worldwide health problem. The process is designed using genome editing to accumulate vitamin-D as the tomato plant grows.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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