Biofortified orange maize enhances β-cryptoxanthin concentrations in egg yolks of laying hens better than tangerine peel fortificant

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The xanthophyll β-cryptoxanthin provides vitamin A and has other purported health benefits. Laying hens deposit xanthophyll carotenoids into egg yolk. Hens (n = 8/group) were fed conventional-bred high β-cryptoxanthin biofortified (orange) maize, tangerine peel-fortified white maize, lutein-fortified yellow maize, or white maize for 40 d to investigate yolk color changes using L*a*b* scales, yolk carotenoid enhancement, and hen vitamin A status. Yolks from hens fed orange maize had scores indicating a darker, orange color and mean higher β-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and β-carotene concentrations (8.43 ± 1.82, 23.1 ± 4.8, 0.16 ± 0.08 nmol/g, respectively) than other treatments (P < 0.0001). Yolk retinol concentrations (mean: 14.4 ± 3.42 nmol/g) were similar among groups and decreased with time (P < 0.0001). Hens fed orange maize had higher liver retinol (0.53 ± 0.20 μmol/g liver) than other groups (P < 0.0001). β-Cryptoxanthin-biofortified eggs could be another choice for consumers, providing enhanced color through a provitamin A carotenoid and supporting eggs’ status as a functional food.