Believe it or not… mushrooms make vitamin D from the sun, just like our bodies do.
Mushrooms and humans react the same way when exposed to the sun. Not only are mushrooms the only plant source of Vitamin D; they are also able to increase their natural Vitamin D content with exposure to the sun. Just like us and just as it happens in our bodies.
Exposed to the sun’s UV light, mushrooms convert their abundant ergosterol to ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) through the action of sunlight (much like our own skin), and they continue to do so even after they are harvested! Now that’s magic mushrooms for you!
Why does this matter in sunny South Africa?
More and more South Africans are becoming vitamin D deficient, even with our abundance of sunshine, because we no longer play or work outside and, when we are outside, we cover our skin with high factor sunscreens. Winter sun exposure is even less!
Why is vitamin D important to us?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, important for building and keeping strong bones and preventing bone disorders and bone loss (osteoporosis).
Research that proves the point:
A study conducted by the University of Sydney in July 2013 assessed the vitamin D levels generated when a serving of mushrooms (100g) is exposed to direct midday sunlight. Button mushrooms had 10 mcg of vitamin D after 1 hour in the sun, while the bigger brown mushrooms took about 2 hours to reach 10 mcg of vitamin D, the daily amount recommended for active adults.
Over the past decade, scientists have found that it takes only a modest amount of UV from the sun or special UV lamps to produce significant levels of vitamin D in mushrooms. Just 15 minutes of direct sun¬light can produce 200 to 800 IU in 3 ounces of mushrooms (the daily RDA is 600 to 800 IU), regardless of type or season.
But that’s not the only reason you should grab a punnet of mushrooms today…
Mushrooms are full of phytonutrient compounds like polysaccharide-glucans, sterols, and lectins, as well as fiber, protein, and nutrients like selenium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, folate, niacin, vitamin B and … vitamin D.
Natural sources of Vitamin D
Oily fish, eggs and mushrooms are three natural food sources of vitamin D and mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D.
So amp up your vitamin D intake today with nature’s own vitamin D factories: fresh mushrooms. Bonus is that they are also low on calories, sodium and fat whilst offering you great umami-rich flavour!
More about the health benefits of mushrooms here!
1. Phillips KM, Rasor AS. A nutritionally meaningful increase in the vitamin D in retail mushrooms is attainable by exposure to sunlight prior to consumption. Nutrition & Food Sciences 2013; 3 (6): http://omicsonline.org/a-nutritionally-meaningful-increase-in-vitamin-d-in-retail-mushrooms-is-attainable-by-exposure-to-sunlight-prior-to-consumption-2155-9600.1000236.pdf