अब टमाटर से भी मिलेगा विटामिन डी...! Now you get Vitamin D from Tomatoes

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

(Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India)


The species originated in western South America and Central America. The Mexican Nahuatl word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived.  You will be surprise to know that tomatoes are classified as fruit and not as vegetable.

Tomatoes are loaded with a substance called lycopene. It gives them their bright red colour and helps protect them from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. In much the same way, Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that might help protect cells from damage. it can help protect your cells from damage. Tomatoes also have potassium, vitamins B and E, and other nutrients. Eating too many tomatoes can cause heart burn or acid reflux due to the production of excess gastric acid in the stomach.

So far we ate Tomatoes to get 




  vitamin C and small quantity of  vitamin A.

Sources of Vit. D 

As we know normally,  we get Vit. D from The Sun, and therefore “ No Sun, No Vitamin D . In India we are lucky to have sunshine almost 300days in a year. Many countries in the world there   is no sun- shine at all throughout the year. An estimated one billion people don’t have enough vitamin D — a condition that can contribute to a variety of health problems, including immune and neurological disorders. Although the most well-known source of vitamin D is exposure of the skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) light, which synthesizes the vitamin  provitamin D3.

Therefore in such places most people obtain their vitamin D through animal products such as eggs, meat and dairy. Plants are generally poor sources of Vit. D. 

Gene-edited tomatoes  

The Gene-edited tomatoes is a new dietary source of vitamin D . This month only scientists from England have produced “Gene-edited Tomato Plants” that produce a precursor to vitamin D could one day provide an animal-free source of the crucial nutrient. When the gene-edited tomatoes,   are exposed to ultraviolet light in the laboratory, some of the precursor, called provitamin D3, is converted to vitamin D3. But the plants have not yet been developed for commercial use, and it is not known how they will fare when grown outside.  Vitamin D levels in ripe fruit might be increased further by extended exposure to UVB, for example during sun-drying.

However, it is a promising — and unusual — example of using gene editing to enhance the nutritional quality of a crop, says plant biologist Johnathan Napier at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, UK. It required an in-depth knowledge of tomato biochemistry. “You can only edit what you understand,” he says. “And it’s only because we understand the biochemistry that we’re able to make those sorts of interventions.” Although gene editing can be used to switch genes off in ways that are beneficial to consumers — for example, by removing a plant compound that could cause allergies — it is much harder to find situations in which mutating a gene will lead to the production of a new nutrient.

The leaves of tomato plants are usually waste material. However, the leaves of the edited plants could be used for the manufacture of vitamin D3 supplements, or for food fortification.

Other foods which are gene edited

Golden Rice is a variety of rice produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, Biofortification increases the nutritional value of crops. Golden Rice is a new type of rice that contains beta carotene (provitamin A, a plant pigment that the body converts into vitamin A as needed). This compound is what gives this grain its yellow-orange or golden colour, hence its name.  

Golden Rice was developed in the late 1990s by German plant scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer to combat vitamin A deficiency, the leading cause of childhood blindness. Low levels of vitamin A also contribute to deaths from infectious diseases such as measles.

Van Der Straeten,  Ghent University in Belgium laboratory is creating genetically modified plants that produce enhanced levels of multiple nutrients, including folate, provitamin A and vitamin B2. (The author has his own study and views)