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Mushrooms for vitamin D

Worried about your vitamin D levels this winter, then add mushrooms to your diet!

We all know that it can be hard to get outside during the cold winter months. However it is necessary to promote our vitamin D production. For this reason vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin!

Vitamin D helps to build and maintain strong healthy bones and teeth, aid in the absorption of calcium, supports our immune system and regulates the production of some hormones. As you have now noted this is one vitamin that you don't want to become deficient in!

According to the Medical Journal of Australia, when sun exposure is minimal the daily intake of vitamin D for general health from both dietary sources and supplementation for individuals below the age of 70 is 600IU (15mcg) and the requirement for individuals older than 70 years of age is 800IU (20mcg). If you are unsure about your present vitamin D concentrations then simply visit your local general practitioner and request a blood test for vitamin D.

If you are concerned that you are not getting enough vitamin D, you may wish to try consuming more mushrooms! Yes that's right, mushrooms for vitamin D!

You may think this it is a bit weird that we are encouraging you to eat something that loves to grow in dark places! An interesting fact about mushrooms is that it is not a vegetable; it's actually a fungus that promotes its growth by releasing spores. Mushrooms naturally contain a substance called ergosterol and when mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet light they convert this substance into ergocalciferol also known as Vitamin D2. Our kidney's convert Vitamin D2 into an active form of vitamin D called 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D also known as calcitriol.

Wild mushrooms have been recognised as the only non animal food source with high concentrations of vitamin D2 because they are exposed to direct sunlight during the growing process. However this brings us to the next dilemma. How are cultivated mushrooms able to produce vitamin D2 because mushrooms are grown in the dark?

Well this is because farmers have taken things into their own hands and are now exposing cultivated mushrooms to ultraviolet light post harvest for approximately one to two seconds. This ultraviolet light exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D2. Research indicates that 100g (approximately three button mushrooms) of cultivated mushrooms will then provide a daily recommend intake of vitamin D.

Vitamin D mushrooms can be purchased at bigger chain supermarkets in major city centres. Alternatively if vitamin D mushrooms are not available in your local area you may wish to simply put your store bought mushrooms in the midday winter sun for approximately an hour which research has shown produces approximately 10mcg of vitamin D in a 100g serve.

Not only do mushrooms contain vitamin D they also contain many other valuable nutrients such as vitamin B2, niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), biotin, folate, copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium and chromium.

So what are you waiting for…? Go out and get yourself some mushrooms!