• Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems
  • More than 40% of people in the United States suffer from Vitamin D deficiency
  • A new study demonstrated that fortified shellfish can help tackle these deficiencies

More than two billion individuals across the world suffer from micronutrient deficiency. Fortifying shellfish might be the solution to this problem, a new study suggested.

Enriched with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, shellfish is a popular healthy food source, and fortifying food products with extra nutrients has been practiced for several years to treat nutrient deficiency.

Experts at the Cambridge University, United Kingdom, suggested nutrient deficiencies that cause numerous health ailments worldwide can be tackled using fortified shellfish. In collaboration with the local company Biobullets, the researchers found a sustainable source of protein from bivalve shellfish.

The research team developed a microcapsule that contained nutrients and was customized to a particular size and shape for the shellfish to consume. The shellfish digested all the nutrients when they were fortified with vitamin bullets.

In their study, the researchers fed more than 100 oysters with microcapsules of vitamins A and D. They found it worked best when shellfish were fed eight hours before being harvested.

Compared to regular oysters, the fortified ones were able to deliver 100 times more vitamin A and 150 times more vitamin D. The fortified shellfish was also found to contain significantly higher levels of nutrients compared to salmon — which is a natural source of both these vitamins.

The findings of the study also demonstrated a single serving of two fortified oysters met the daily recommended allowance of these two vitamins.

"We have demonstrated a cheap and effective way to get micronutrients into a sustainable and delicious source of protein. Targeted use of this technology in regions worst affected by nutrient deficiencies, using carefully selected bivalve species and micronutrients, could help improve the health of millions, while also reducing the harm that meat production is doing to the environment," David Willer, the study’s co-author told Science Times.

Vitamin A and D deficiencies are of particular concern since 33% of children and about one in six pregnant women lack sufficient vitamin A. There is also a concern of regional deficiencies. More than 76% of children in Ghana are vitamin A deficient and about 85% of Indians and over 40% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, pointed out the study. Vitamin A deficiency can cause reversible blindness and increases the risk of severe illnesses, while lack of vitamin D could lead to heart failure and osteoporosis.

You should be careful about consuming certain foods that are commonly served during Thanksgiving. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for NYCWFF