Mushrooms Are As Good A Source Of Vitamin D As Supplements
April 22, 2013

Get Your Daily Dose Of Vitamin D With A Helping Of Mushrooms

Brett Smith for — Your Universe Online

Vitamin D is important for maintaining bone health and muscle strength and a new study from Boston University researchers shows mushrooms can provide the same amount of vitamin D to the body as supplemental tablets.

The study will be presented at a meeting of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Boston this week and published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

To reach their findings, researchers divided 30 healthy adults into three random groups and directed them to take capsules containing 2000 International Units (IU) of either vitamin D2, vitamin D3, or mushroom powder containing vitamin D2 every day for twelve weeks during the winter.

After twelve weeks of supplements, scientists found participants´ average levels of serum 25(OH)D, which was used to determine a person's vitamin D status, were not notably different among any of the three supplement groups.

"These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms that 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," said study author Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine at BU. "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.

"These results confirm other studies that have demonstrated that ingesting vitamin D2 either from fortified orange juice, a supplement or a pharmaceutical formulation were all capable of increasing total circulating 25(OH) D concentrations for at least three months and up to six years,” Holick added.

He also noted treating mushrooms with ultraviolet light could result in the production of additional benefits.

"The observation that some mushrooms when exposed to UVB light also produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4 can also provide the consumer with at least two additional vitamin Ds," Holick said.

The scientist is also expected to present another study in Boston this week on how the mushrooms are able to generate vitamin D in a process similar to what occurs in human skin when exposed to the sun.

"Although it has been previously reported that mushrooms have the ability to produce both vitamin D2 and vitamin D4, through our own research we were able to detect several types of vitamin Ds and provitamin Ds in mushroom samples, including vitamin D3, which is also made in human skin," Holick said.

Previous research has shown that the vitamin D producing process in the skin can be affected by the season, skin pigmentation, and sunscreen use, among other factors.

In a report on his other research efforts, Holick noted previous studies have shown vitamin D deficiency in those living at higher latitudes — translating into an increased risk for many chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

He recommends a “three-part strategy of increasing food fortification programs with vitamin D, sensible sun exposure recommendations and encouraging ingestion of a vitamin D supplements when needed,” which “should be implemented to prevent Global vitamin D deficiency and its negative health consequences.”