While many of us will probably get plenty of vitamin D in the summer sunshine, there’s some potentially welcoming news for those who prefer to get theirs from dietary sources (which is always a wise idea anyway). According to new research, mushrooms produce enough vitamin D without the need for supplementation.
There are many reasons vitamin D is important to our health. For instance, adequate vitamin D levels are necessary for promoting healthy bone development, muscle strength, and reducing the risk of bone fractures. Vitamin D is also essential in helping strengthen your immune system and reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, depression and diabetes.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine examined 30 healthy adults who were randomly given capsules of 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D2, 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, or 2,000 IU of mushroom powder (with vitamin D2). They took these daily for 12 weeks in the winter months.
“These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms which have been exposed to ultraviolet light and contain vitamin D2, are a good source of vitamin D that can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults. Furthermore we found ingesting mushrooms containing vitamin D2 was as effective in raising and maintaining a healthy adult’s vitamin D status as ingesting a supplement that contained either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3,” said Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, the principal investigator of the study.
The research links the method in which mushrooms enhance vitamin D levels with what typically occurs to the body’s skin after exposure to the sun.
Mushrooms produce all the essential variations of vitamin D, including D2, D3 and D4. This study reaffirms how natural foods should be your primary resource for healthier levels of vitamins. It also demonstrates the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, which rarely get the attention that other foods see, like leafy greens or exotic superfoods.
Some simple ways to add mushrooms to your meals would be as a pizza topping, tossing in salads, or grilling on burgers and fajitas. More delicious fare would include a raw portobello stuffed with basil pesto, roasted mushroom and fennel salad, and black bean mushroom quesadillas.
To some, the new study may seem to be a major breakthrough that could result in a smaller demand for vitamin D supplements, unless you abhor mushrooms, of course. But in most cases, you can meet your nutritional needs through a healthy diet, even if mushrooms aren’t your thing. Salmon, tuna, and fortified foods like milk, yogurt and orange juice are all great places to start.