Biofortification of Chicken Eggs with Vitamin K—Nutritional and Quality Improvements

Siobhan M. O’sullivan, M. Elizabeth E. Ball, Emma McDonald, George L.J. Hull, Martin Danaher, Kevin D. Cashman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


National nutrition surveys have shown that over half of all adults in Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (USA) have low vitamin K intakes. Thus, dietary strategies to improve vitamin K intakes are needed, and vitamin K biofortification of food may be one food-based approach. The primary aim of our study was to establish whether increasing the vitamin K3 content of hen feed can increase the vitamin K content of eggs, and the secondary aims were to examine the effects on hen performance parameters, as well as egg and eggshell quality parameters. A 12 week hen feeding trial was conducted in which Hyline chickens were randomized into four treatment groups (n = 32/group) and fed diets containing vitamin K3 (as menadione nicotinamide bisulfite) at 3 (control), 12.9, 23.7, and 45.7 mg/kg feed. Vitamin K1, menaquinone (MK)-4, MK-7, and MK-9 were measured in raw whole eggs via a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method. MK-4 was the most abundant form of vitamin K (91–98%) found in all eggs. Increasing the vitamin K3 content of hen feed over the control level significantly (p < 0.001) enhanced the MK-4 content of eggs (mean range: 46–51 µg/100 g, representing ~42–56% of US Adequate Intake values). Vitamin K biofortification also led to significant (p < 0.05) increases in the yellowness of egg yolk and in eggshell weight and thickness, but no other changes in egg quality or hen performance parameters. In conclusion, high-quality vitamin K-biofortified eggs can be produced with at least double the total vitamin K content compared to that in commercially available eggs.

Original languageBritish English
Article number1619
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Biofortification
  • Egg
  • Hen
  • Menaquinone 4
  • MK-4
  • Vitamin K


Dive into the research topics of 'Biofortification of Chicken Eggs with Vitamin K—Nutritional and Quality Improvements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this