You may know of vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin”, and for good reason. When we are exposed to the suns (UV) ultraviolet rays, our skin creates its own vitamin D, which then travels to the liver and then to your kidneys to be turned into active vitamin D.
While Vitamin D is also naturally found in some foods such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, cod liver oil), eggs yolks, mushrooms and some fortified foods (cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, cereals), the sun remains to be the best and most efficient source of this vitamin.
Even though it can be quite easy to get your daily Vitamin D intake from sunlight (especially here in sunny Queensland, Australia), figures from Osteoporosis Australia state that over 30% of Australian adults have a mild, moderate or severe Vitamin D deficiency, which is about 1 in 4!
There are a number of factors that can contribute to a deficiency in Vitamin D, including those who are housebound, the elderly, darker skinned people, medical conditions that can affect your ability to absorb/process vitamin D, and the issue of being able to be sun smart while also getting enough daily sunshine on exposed skin. Many of us have also been in isolation for the past few months, which has made it even more difficult to get our daily sunshine vitamin.
A brand new systematic review by Blumfield et al., has found that eating just five UV exposed mushrooms can give you your daily required dose of vitamin D.
According to the review, in order to boost the vitamin D levels in your mushrooms, you need to have them sitting in direct sunlight for 15-60 minutes. After exposing them to sunlight, you can store them in the refrigerator where they will remain vitamin D boosted for up to 8 days. Blumfield et al., states that “UVB-exposed mushrooms increase and maintain serum 25(OH)D levels to a similar degree as vitamin D supplements.” This was tested on individuals with and without a vitamin D deficiency.
The study also highlights the other health benefits of mushrooms, including the ability to improve markers of metabolic syndrome, improve gastrointestinal health, and reduce risk of ovarian and prostate cancers.
Now with the potential to provide us with our daily dose of vitamin D, there’s just so many reasons to love mushrooms! They are so nutritionally unique and can make such a powerful addition to your diet. Grill them, roast them, stuff them, add them to pizzas or risottos, soups or pastas. Get creative with them on #MeatlessMondays by using grilled portabella mushrooms on burgers, or making grilled shiitake skewers. There are so many ways to spice up your cooking with mushrooms! How do you like to eat mushrooms?
Reference: Blumfield et al. (2020). Examining the health effects and bioactive components in Agarius bisporus mushrooms: a scoping review. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 84.