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One Major Effect of Eating Free-Range Eggs, Says Science

It all has to do with chickens that wander in sunshine.

You're standing in the egg section of the dairy aisle, pondering your choices: White eggs, brown eggs, organic eggs, free-range eggs… what is the difference, and are any actually better for your health? As it turns out, selecting one particular option actually may deliver higher levels of a vitamin we all need—especially lately.

According to Taste of Home, science suggests eggs that come from chickens wandering freely often contain higher levels of Vitamin D. Some research has shown hens that go outdoors produce eggs with as much as three to six times as much Vitamin D as eggs raised indoors.

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To get more specific, a 2014 study found this type of egg contained greater amounts Vitamin D3, which some dermatology and endocrinology professionals have called "the sunshine vitamin." Research has shown that Vitamin D3 supports bone strength, immunity, and a happy mood.

As the human body also synthesizes Vitamin D3 from exposure to sunlight, multiple agricultural studies over the past 10 years have suggested that the sun may work in animals similarly to the way it does for us.


The findings seem pretty reliable, though the 2014 study discovered an important caveat with the researchers noting that "free-range eggs randomly acquired from supermarkets had relatively low vitamin D contents." As Taste of Home suggests, you may want to study the egg carton label or research a particular farm to learn more about their practices and whether their hens are able to get good doses of sunlight.

Even with that in mind, it stands to reason that eggs from free-roaming chickens really could be the healthier choice. Just the idea that the chickens aren't sitting in one place all day might indicate that your eggs are coming from a cleaner environment. (In fact, many major restaurant chains are making big changes to ensure their own food is raised hygienically and fairly.) As many experts have suggested, that cleanliness is also key to your family's health.

fried eggs sunny side up yolk

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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