Marks and Spencer is to become the first UK retailer to add vitamin D to its entire packaged bread range after a survey found customers are concerned they are not getting their recommended daily amount, it announces today.
Every loaf of bread and bread roll in the M&S bakery range will be made with yeast that naturally produces vitamin D, providing a minimum of 15 per cent of the daily requirement in two slices.
The yeast will have been exposed to UV light, naturally increasing its vitamin D content, which in turn is transferred into the bread. The range will be rolled out from next week.
Vitamin D is mostly obtained from the action of sunlight on the skin. Natural dietary sources include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel and eggs.
It is generally only added to breakfast cereals, margarine and sometimes yogurts and drinks. This is believed to be the first time it has been added to bread across an entire range.
A survey by M&S of 2,476 customers earlier this year found 78 per cent would look favouarably on vitamin D enrichment. More than 90 per cent bought bread weekly.
Last month it was reported that under-fours may be handed vitamin D supplements amid concerns by experts over the return of rickets.
The disease was common during Victorian times but virtually eradicated during the Second World War when Britons consumed their healthiest ever diets.
About 10 million people across England may be low on the vitamin, which risks leaving them prone to weak bones and tenderness.
The move by M&S has been backed by the National Osteoporosis Society.
Chief executive Claire Severgnini said: “Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that sadly many people are lacking.
“This can lead to osteoporosis and other health complications that can be avoided by simple lifestyle changes.
“Safe sun exposure is an excellent way of obtaining natural vitamin D, however levels can be topped up through diet.”
M&S head of nutrition Claire Hughes said: “We understand the importance of vitamin D in a balanced diet and the role this can play in health.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to increase their intake.
“By adding it to something as simple as bread it means customers don’t have to change their usual diet to get an additional top up of this vital vitamin.”