Nutrients In Eggs

Eggs are a nutrient goldmine!

One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories.

While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
  • Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

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Why Adding Omega-3’s To Egg Ingredients Might Be A Good Idea.


Consumers worldwide might benefit from foods made using egg ingredients enhanced by adding nutrients.

Jose Miranda and colleagues summarized evidence suggesting that egg-derived ingredients, like pasteurized liquid eggs, offer potential to improve the balance of nutrients in diets of both developing and developed countries (Miranda, 2015).

Eggs were noted for offering a “modest calorie source…, a protein of excellent quality, great culinary versatility and low economic cost…”

In the journal Nutrients, the authors point out that dietary imbalances could be addressed with liquid egg and egg powders enriched with omega-3, while simultaneously reducing cholesterol content. Moreover, another benefit of egg ingredients is that regular eggs are not refrigerated in some countries, yet pasteurized liquid egg ingredients would be.

Another important potential advantage of egg-derived products enriched with n-3 PUFA is that the lipid profile is better preserved at refrigeration temperatures…

There are potential advantages associated with enhancing egg products from both consumer behavior and food supply perspectives. Consumers say they want to do more to improve their diets, and substituting a food made with an enhanced egg product for the standard version of same/similar food, may be an easy and therefore sustainable approach over the long-term.

Overall, the authors conclude that nutritionally enhanced egg derived ingredient products are:

 safer from the microbiological point of view, cheaper, easier to hand[le] and store, and because of the heat treatment applied, in some cases are less allergenic than fresh eggs. Thus, functional egg-derived products obtained through technologic methods are a very interesting option ….

An infographic on nutrients in standard egg yolk and other health professional materials about egg nutrition are available on the Egg Nutrition Center website.

JM Miranda, X Anton, C Redondo-Valbuena, P Roca-Saavedra, JA Rodriguez, A Lamas, CM Franco, and A Cepeda. “Egg and egg-derived foods: effects on human health and use as a functional ingredient.”Nutrients 2015;7:706-729.

Stock media provided by [4@OpasChotiphantawanon2]/

Recorded Webinars and Other Videos

ENC-Funded Research Presented at the Experimental Biology Meeting in March 2015

Egg Nutrition Center is the science division of The American Egg Board headquartered in Park Ridge, Illinois. This 2-minute highlight video and the eight videos below this one reflect some of the ENC-funded research that was presented at the Experimental Biology meeting in March 2015.

Continue reading “Recorded Webinars and Other Videos”

Economical Eggs One Answer to Vitamin D Deficiency

Today’s post comes from the Fall Issue of the Nutrition Close-Up, ENC’s newsletter that provides information on current nutrition and research trends and upcoming presentations. The post was authored by Yanni Papanikolaou, Vice President of Nutrition & Commercialization at Nutritional Strategies Inc. Nutritional Strategies Inc. is a scientific consulting firm specializing in developing evidence-based communications, conducting nutrition research, and advising on regulatory affairs. Yanni can be reached at and at 519.504.9252. Please visit to access the current and previous issues of the Nutrition Close-Up.

While widespread cases of rickets date back at least to 17th century England, the cause remained elusive until McCollum and colleagues discovered vitamin D in 1957 and established a cure.1  While vitamin D research stalled for many years following that critical discovery, new research in recent years has reignited scientific interest in vitamin D and health outcomes.  Low levels of vitamin D are now associated with various chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.2  And the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicated that vitamin D intakes are low enough to be considered a nutrient of public health concern for all ages.3  Even with the prevalent use of dietary supplements, observational evidence stemming from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has shown that a significant number of American adults and children do not achieve the estimated average requirements (EAR)4  set forth by the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board.

Exposure to the sun can influence vitamin D levels, and a high risk of vitamin D insufficiency exists in northern latitudes, among them northern regions of the U.S. In fact, researchers in 2007 examined vitamin D status of pregnant women and their neonates in and around Pittsburgh, PA by race and season, where more than 90% of women used prenatal vitamins. At time of delivery, vitamin D deficiency occurred in 29.2% of African American women and 45.6% of their babies; while vitamin D insufficiency occurred in 54.1% of African American women and 46.8% of their babies. The study further showed that 5% of white women and 9.7% of their babies were vitamin D deficient; and that 42.1% of white women and 56.4% of their babies were vitamin D insufficient. The study confirmed that both groups of pregnant women residing in this northern U.S. region were at high risk of vitamin D insufficiency, even while more than nine in 10 complied with advice to consume prenatal vitamins.5  Similar findings have been reported in healthy young adults of diverse ancestry living in the Toronto area, situated about 60 miles north of the U.S. border, further demonstrating the impact of latitude on vitamin D status.6

A recent study using data from NHANES 2001-2008 examined usual intakes of vitamin D from food and dietary supplements in individuals aged four years and greater.7  The study indicated that vitamin D disparities exist and are influenced by several demographic and/or socioeconomic factors, including race/ethnicity, income, and weight status. Percentages of individuals who did not meet their individual estimated average requirement (EAR) targets for vitamin D were high among all races. Individuals considered to have high household income had higher vitamin D intakes and were more likely to meet their EAR targets from a combination of food and dietary supplements compared to low- and middle-income individuals. Normal-weight individuals had greater calcium and vitamin D consumption and were more likely to meet the EAR targets from a combination of food and dietary supplements compared to overweight and obese individuals. Further, researchers indicated that “excessive intakes of vitamin D above the IOM’s Upper Limit value were low among all studied populations and overnutrification was not widely present across the analyses.”

BW-Shell-Eggs-in-Carton-for-printVitamin D can be sourced in the diet through consumption of fatty fish, fish oils, eggs, dairy products, and supplements. While fish represents an important source for vitamin D intake, fish consumption remains low in the U.S.,8 making eggs and dairy foods favorable dietary alternatives to help increase vitamin D consumption. As part of a healthy diet, eggs can provide a good source of vitamin D, such that one large egg (50g) contributes 41 IU vitamin D. Currently, eggs fall under the category of ”Protein Foods Group” in USDA’s MyPlate. Recommendations for the protein food group range from 2-ounce equivalents for children aged 2-3 years to 6.5-ounce equivalents for adolescent boys aged 14-18 years and adult men aged 19-30 years. One egg counts as a 1-ounce equivalent in the protein foods group. In addition, eggs are a nutrient-dense food and provide several key essential nutrients. At 70 kcal, one large egg contains 12% daily value (DV) for protein, 10% DV for vitamin D, 15% DV for riboflavin and 10% DV for phosphorus.9 In addition, eggs represent a food that collaborates well with other nutrient-dense food items. With that in mind, consider how the nutrition adds up when individuals choose egg-containing foods like low-fat cheese omelets and vegetable frittatas.

Based on peer-reviewed published findings, dietary guidance messaging may need to amplify recommendations to meet public health goals for vitamin D. Indeed, increased egg consumption may provide one realistic, practical, and economical approach for improved vitamin D consumption in several American sub-populations.



1. DeLuca HF. History of the discovery of vitamin D and its active metabolites. BoneKEy Reports. 2014;3: doi: 10.1038/bonekey.2013.213

2. Soares MJ. Calcium and vitamin D for chronic disease: A time for action. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011;65:985 doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.112.

3. US. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.

4. Fulgoni VL III, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J: Foods, fortificants and dietary supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr. 2011;141:1847–1854.

5. Bodnar LM, Simhan HN, Powers RW et al. High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in black and white pregnant women residing in the northern United States and their neonates. J Nutr. 2007;137:447-452.

6. Gozdzik A, Barta JL, Hongyu W, et al. Low wintertime vitamin D levels in a sample of healthy young adults of diverse ancestry living in the Toronto area: Associations with vitamin D intake and skin pigmentation. BMC Public Health. 2008;8:336 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-336.

7. Wallace TC, Reider C, Fulgoni VL. Calcium and vitamin D disparities are related to gender, age, race, household income level, and weight classification but not vegetarian status in the United States: Analysis of the NHANES 2001-2008 data set. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32:321-330.

8. Papanikolaou Y, Brooks J, Reider C, et al. U.S adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: Results of an analysis using observational data from NHANEs 2003-2008. Nutr J. 2014. 13:31 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-31.

9. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27, Software v.2.0b. The National Agricultural Library.


Key Messages

  • Low levels of vitamin D are now associated with various chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Individuals considered to have high household income and normal-weight individuals are more likely to meet their vitamin D intake targets through a combination of food and dietary supplements compared to low- and middle-income individuals and overweight individuals, respectively.
  • One large egg contributes 41 IU vitamin D, contains 10% daily value for vitamin D, and collaborates well with other nutrient-dense food items.

The Link Between Nutrition, Exercise and Muscle

lab-scientist-stock-photoENC likes to provide the opportunity for up and coming investigators to showcase their research, and today’s post comes from a student of Jamie I. Baum, PhD, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at the University of Arkansas. Brianna L. Neumann graduated from Truman State University with a bachelor of science in Exercise Science.  Her undergraduate research experience involved sports nutritional research, which began her desire to continue her education to focus on protein’s metabolic effect in the body.  She currently is a Master’s student at the University of Arkansas in the Department of Food Science, where her research specifically focuses on the impact protein quality and quantity on whole body energy metabolism.

In today’s society, big muscles are associated with weight lifting, men and sports. However, for most people, the benefits of gaining muscle mass include improvement in gross motor skills and a potential decrease in sarcopenia (gradual age-related loss in muscle mass and function). When discussing the building of muscle mass, a term you need to be familiar with is muscle protein synthesis (MPS). In general, in order to gain muscle mass, you need to synthesize more muscle than your body is breaking down. Through extensive research on muscle mass, it is known that an outside stimulus, such as resistance exercise, is required for building muscle. More recently, it has been discovered that nutrition, specifically in the form of protein, also plays a vital role in the physiology of this process5, 6.

Research has shown that consumption of high-quality proteins (e.g. beef; eggs) can stimulate MPS in both young and elderly individuals, following a meal8, and this effect may be attributed particularly to the quality – not just the quantity – of the protein. High-quality proteins tend to be from animal sources and include eggs, poultry, beef and dairy, which are high in essential amino acids (EAA), particularly the branched-chain amino acid leucine. Data show that leucine promotes MPS at a greater rate than that of the other EAA due to leucine’s ability to activate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), the key regulatory pathway in MPS1, 3.

A recent study clearly demonstrates the relationship between EAA and MPS. Eight individuals were given 10 grams of EAA on two separate occasions and a dose of rapamycin (an inhibitor of mTOR) on one occasion, which led to a 60% increase in MPS following ingestion of EAA.  However, this effect was completely blocked when subjects were treated with rapamycin4. In addition, another study tested 8 healthy, sedentary older adults with diets supplemented by leucine for 2 weeks (4 grams per meal) and found a significant increase in muscle fractional synthesis rate at the end of the treatment period4.  The muscle fractional synthesis rate is the fraction of the proteins that are synthesized in the muscle per unit of time9.

Resistance exercise can also increase MPS and add “bulk,” or increase muscle mass. There are two primary principles of exercise that need to occur in order for someone to successfully add “bulk”: progression and overload. The most important for MPS is overload, defined as placing additional stress on a muscle above normal conditions, and includes exercises such as weight lifting and swimming. Therefore, in order for someone to “bulk up,” they must have an outside stimulus that serves to initiate MPS inside the body. There are various ways to achieve overload such as adding more weight or increasing a swimming distance, and research is still being done regarding how to maximize MPS. A recent study examined the effect of concentric resistance exercise on 8 trained men2 to determine if muscle building signaling enzymes were progressively increased as more sets of resistance activity were performed. The investigators concluded that performing additional sets showed a greater increase in MPS than just a single set of lifts.

Is there an additive effect of protein ingestion and resistance exercise? As stated above, both exercise and nutrition initiate MPS, and ideally, one would have both in order to maximize muscle building within the body. For example, the effect of beef ingestion coupled with resistance exercise was recently tested in 35 middle-aged men who consumed one of four different amounts of beef (0, 57, 113 and 170 grams) prior to resistance exercise (unilateral movements). Results of this study demonstrated that eating 170 grams of beef in addition to exercise significantly elevated MPS when compared to the other groups7.

In summary, MPS is complex and can be influenced by both nutrition and exercise. Both can activate MPS individually, but research shows combining the two is best to promote MPS. Further research is still needed to understand the long-term impact of this combination, as well as the practicality of dietary intake for individuals in order to maintain and increase muscle tissue.


  1. Anthony JC, Yoshizawa F, Anthony TG, Vary TC, Jefferson LS, Kimball SR. Leucine stimulates translation initiation in skeletal muscle of postabsorptive rats via rapamycin sensitive pathway. Journal of Nutrition. 2000; 130(10): 2413-9.
  2. Burd NA. Holwerda AM, Selby KC, West DW, Staples AW, Caine NE, Cashaback JG, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Resistance exercise volume affects myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic signaling molecule phosphorylation in young men. Journal of Physiology. 2010; 588(Pt 16): 3119-30.
  3. Caperson SL, Shelffield-Moore M, Hewlings SJ, Paddon-Jones D. Leucine supplemenatation chronically improves muscle protein synthesis in older adults consuming the RDA for protein.Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 31(4): 512-519.
  4. Dickson JM, Fry CS, Drummond MJ, Gundermann DM, Walker DK, Glynn EL, Timmerman KL, Dhanani S, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB. Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 activation is required for the stimulation of human skeletal muscle protein synthesis by essential amino acids.The Journal of Nutrition. 2011; 141(5): 856-62.
  5. Drummond MJ, Rasmussen BB. Leucine-enriched nutrients and the regulation of mammalian target of rapamycin signaling and human skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2008; 11(3): 222-6.
  6. Millward DJ, Layman DK, Tomé D, Schaafsma G. Protein quality assessment: impact of expanding understanding of protein and amino acid needs for optimal health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008; 87 (5): 1576S-1581S.
  7. Robinson MJ, Burd NA, Breen L, Rerecich T, Yang Y, Hector AJ, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Does-dependent responses of myofibrillar protein synthesis with beef ingestion are enhanced with resistance exercise in middle-aged men. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2013; 38 (2): 120-5.
  8. Symons TB, Sheffield-Moore M, Wolfe RR, Paddon-Jones D. A moderate serving of high quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects.Journal of American Dietetics Association. 2009; 109(9):1582-6.
  9. Wolfe RR. Skeletal muscle protein metabolism and resistance exercise. The Journal of Nutrition. 2006; 136(2): 525S-528S.

High-Quality Protein on a Budget

Eggs-One-CrackedWhile dangerously high rates of obesity today are no secret, scientists and health professionals continually strive to find obesity’s root causes, in an effort to combat related alarming health trends. In their searches, researchers have found a link between obesity and chronic diseases due to consumption of high energy dense foods such as refined sugars, grains and processed convenience foods. Simultaneously, several studies have shown that high energy-dense diets may be cheaper than diets based around nutrient-dense foods such as meats, fruits and vegetables, making them particularly appealing to the low socioeconomic population (1,2,3). Health professionals’ dietary recommendations may indeed be limited by what patients can afford. However, high-quality protein sources, such as eggs, can be an affordable and nutritious option for populations with limited food budgets.Obesity is inarguably a multi-causal state, but research has demonstrated that two major factors in the development of obesity are education and income levels (1). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that the availability of inexpensive food items to poverty-stricken areas correlates with higher energy intakes, but lower intakes of macronutrients such as protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber (2). Therefore, adults consuming these diets are less likely to feel satiated after their meals and often have an increased intake of saturated fats and added sugars. This can cause a state of overfeeding and undernourishment including low intakes of iron, zinc, vitamin D and vitamin B-12 (3) .

Given the different metabolic pathways of macronutrients during digestion, strategic adjustment of the proportions of intake from protein, carbohydrate and fat may help to combat obesity. Protein, for instance, has a higher satiety value than carbohydrates and therefore has been shown to reduce overall caloric intake. A 2013 study found that when people ate high-quality protein that consisted of an egg- and beef-rich breakfast, they had greater satiety between meals, which reduced appetite-regulating hormone levels and food cravings (4) and in another study, lowered energy intake by 130 calories, compared to those who ate a refined cereal breakfast (5). Also, two studies found that men who ate 25 percent more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein were able to decrease hunger and the amount of energy dense foods consumed (6,7).

Eggs are a source of high-quality protein, providing 6 grams or 12% of the Daily Value (DV), at only 70 calories per egg. A single egg also provides 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 15% for riboflavin, 8% for vitamin B12 and 4% for iron (8). At only 16 cents apiece on average, eggs are a nutritional bargain, providing one of the least expensive sources of high-quality protein per dollar spent (9). As such, eggs can help fill nutrient gaps in the diet; and health professionals can feel confident recommending this high-quality protein source as a means to help combat obesity and micronutrient deficiencies.


  1. Adam Drewnowski, Obesity and the food environment: Dietary energy density and diet   costs, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 27, Issue 3, Supplement, October 2004, Pages 154-162, ISSN 0749-3797,
  2. Symposium: Modifying the Food Environment: Energy Density, Food Costs, and Portion Size: Adam Drewnowski and Nicole Darmon. Food Choices and Diet Costs: an Economic Analysis J. Nutr. 2005 135: 4 900-904.
  3. Miller, B. D., & Welch, R. M. (2013). Food system strategies for preventing micronutrient malnutrition. Food Policy, 42, 115-128.
  4. Leidy HJ, Ortinau LC, Douglas SM, Hoertel HA. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese “breakfast-skipping” late-adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr 2013; 97(4):677-88.
  5. Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effect on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obs 2010; 43(7):1125-33.
  6. Layman DK. Protein quantity and quality at levels above RDA improves adult weight loss. J Am Coll Nutr 2004; 23(6):631S-6S.
  7. Weigle DS, Breen PA, Matthys CC, Callahan HS, Meeuws KE, Burden VR, Purnell JQ. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr 2005; 82(1):41-8.
  8. Egg Nutrition Center. Egg Nutrition Facts Label (2014). Retrieved on October 16, 2014 from
  9. United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products (October 2013). Retrieved on October 22, 2014 from