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Eggs: Meeting Nutrients of Public Health Concern

Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD

Diet and Health

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD to write this blog post.

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report was recently released with some egg-citing findings! Eggs remain a top pick for your table as a naturally nutrient-rich choice. Importantly, eggs are a source of five nutrients of public health concern or nutrients that pose special challenges: iodine, choline, vitamin B12, vitamin D and protein.1,2 As practitioners, we know the best way to bring our patients nutrition news they can use is dishing up information about foods they can add to their plates for optimal health. In this case, that means encouraging eggs across all life stages.


Choline was identified as a nutrient under consumed by the entire population. While 90% of all Americans don’t consume enough, choline intake is of particular concern for infants, and pregnant and lactating women.1 Choline is an essential micronutrient that plays important roles in human metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, fetal brain development and overall brain health, among other functions.3,4 Eggs have one of the highest amounts choline of any food, with one large egg providing 150 mg of choline or 33% of the Adequate Intake (AI) for a pregnant woman.5 Remember to keep the yolk – it’s where all the choline is concentrated!


Iodine was noted as an under consumed food component of public health concern for pregnant or lactating women. Iodine needs increase by more than 50% during pregnancy to meet fetal needs for growth and neurological development.1 Eggs are an excellent source of iodine, with one large egg providing 28 mcg of iodine or 20% of the daily value.

For lactating women, both iodine and choline amounts in breastmilk can be increased by maternal increase in intake.1


Protein was noted as a nutrient that poses special health challenges and is under consumed by adolescent girls (ages 9-14) and older adults. Protein is the basic building block for life, with roles as enzymes, the basis of all muscle contraction and mobility, and is the second largest source of stored energy in the body.4 Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein with 6 grams of protein per large egg. Of particular importance for older adults, eggs are a very economical source of protein. And because of the nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs, the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee noted that consumption of up to 2 eggs per day is acceptable within the context of a heart-healthy dietary pattern for older healthy individuals.   

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that poses special health challenges again for adolescent girls and older adults. Similar to protein, changes in metabolism may generate special needs for vitamin B12 among older adults.1 For adolescent girls, a major challenge is low intake of foods rich in vitamin B12.1 Vitamin B12 has important roles in red blood cell formation and neurological function. Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin B12, providing 0.5 mcg or 20% of the daily value per large egg.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a nutrient of public health concern for all ages as it is under consumed by much of the population. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and bone health, among other roles.7 Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally-occurring source of vitamin D, with 6% daily value provided from one large egg.

Breaking down the science of meeting nutrition needs into bite-sized pieces is both delicious and simple when eggs are on the table as a nutrient-rich choice!

  1.  Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2020. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, DC. Access here: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-07/ScientificReport_of_the_2020DietaryGuidelinesAdvisoryCommittee_first-print.pdf
  2. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748967/nutrients
  3. Zeisel SH, da Costa KA. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):615-623. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x Access here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/#
  4. Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Philadelphia, Pa: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014.
  5. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748967/nutrients
  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#h5
  7. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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