Food plays an important role in human health. Egg has a special place among the foods that provide the needed nutrients for our body and it`s a rich and balanced source of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. Since fatty acids, minerals and vitamins of eggs are easily could be manipulated and controlled through the diet, many researchers are working to develop quantitative and qualitative changes in the egg.
Eggs are also noted due to easy availability, perfect natural packaging and several food usage and many people have tried to make the eggs as a package for human nutrient requirements as in some areas with enriching the eggs from the minerals and vitamins have been tried to eliminate the deficiencies of these elements in the region for example, eggs enrichment with iodine that in most human societies are facing shortages could overcome the shortage of the element.
Also eggs enrichment with ω-3 fatty acid could balance the ratio of ω-6 to ω-3 fatty acids in the body and the risk of heart disease in the elderly will be reduced. Eggs enrichmen with polyunsaturated fatty acids ω-3 (PUFA n-3) by many sources such as fish oil, flax seed, canola seed, chia seed and tiny algae that are the most common sources for this purpose would increase the amounts of these fatty acids in the egg yolk. The largest commercial production of eggs that is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids belongs to those chickens that has diets full of flax seed.
Flax seed contains about 42% oil which it contains more than 50% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA 18: 3). Increase of 5 to 15% flax seed would increase 9 to 35% of Docosa Hexaenoic Acid (DHA) in the egg. But more recent research determine 5% of flax seed in diet as the appropriate amount because flax seed specially the premature one contains a little Cyanogenic glycosides as the Linamaryn and a enzyme along with it by the name of Linaz that would release Hydrogen Cyanide as the result of Hydrolysis that severely toxic and Cyanide in combination with Cytochrome Oxidase, causing immediate cessation of respiration and cell death.
In a trial by Shidler and Franing (1996), the combined effects of cultivar, surface, shape and storage condition of flax seed on egg production and composition in birds fed by vitamin E was examined. Levels of 5, 10 and 15% ground flax seed was compared with corn-soy diet control or the fish oil. In compared with control, flax seed reduced feed intake, increased bird and egg weight. However, flax seed and fish oil improved egg production respectively 9.88% and 0.93% compared to controls (1.38%).
Linolenic acid of eggs increased with increasing the levels of flax seed (18.4, 31.2 and 38.6% in the yolk fat respectively with levels of 5, 10 and 15% flax seed.) Flax seed and fish oil in comparison with controls significantly increased the percentage of whites and decreased the yolk but it doesn`t have any effect egg cholesterol.
There is no difference between milled and complete flax seed. Leeson et al. (2000) also divided laying chickens in 3 groups according to their body weight, light, medium and heavy with diets that contain 0, 10, and 20% flax seed. Regardless of division by weight, 20% flax seed diet causes poor growth, reduced egg production and increased feed consumption.
From this experiment it can be concluded that the lower egg production in birds which fed with high levels of flax seed may be is due to the presence of anti-nutritional materials or decreased metabolic energy in the diet.
By Dr. Maziar Mohiti Asli, Poultry Nutritionist
DGM-Technomix Scientific Group
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