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Recent research discovered some insects could synthesize very high amounts of vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light. Researchers will investigate the potential use of UV-exposed insects as a vitamin D supplement for captive animals. The team will compare vitamin D levels in young bearded dragons either exposed to UV light or fed UV-exposed mealworms. They expect UV-exposed mealworms will provide adequate vitamin D, and therefore prevent metabolic bone disease and improve growth in captive animals. If successful, findings could identify a relatively cheap food source (UV-exposed locusts, crickets and mealworms) as an effective dietary supplement of vitamin D for both healthy and deficient insectivorous animals under human care, including for wild animal conservation and pets.

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Unitec Institute of Technology
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New Zealand
Marleen Baling. PhD
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