A new study lends credibility to the belief that mushrooms are not only good for health, but can be a source of vitamin D.
Resident Medical Authority: J. E. Williams, OMD, FAAIM
EDIBLE MUSHROOMS AND VITAMIN D
There is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the northern hemisphere. We find it in American, Canada, and Europe. There are few studies from equatorial zones, but evidence suggests that it’s also a concern in the temperate countries of the southern hemisphere. The elderly, those who are in doors most of the time, those who overuse sunscreen, and vegans are at most risk for vitamin D deficiency. However, even among the healthy general population, vitamin D levels are low.
25-hydroxyvitamin D status is the laboratory good standard for testing levels, but since serum levels don’t show quick results, it’s not easy to get vitamin D levels up and evaluate status in the short run, even with supplementation. At very low levels, in the clinic we inject 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 weekly until levels reach sufficiency, and then prescribe oral supplementation to maintain adequate levels. Since Vitamins A and D are center stage nutrients for immunity, it make good sense to make sure your levels are strong.
Most Vitamin D3 supplements are derived from sheep’s wool lanolin, which theoretically is not harmful to the animal, but may still be objectionable to vegans. A recent paper in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that button mushrooms grown under ultraviolet light produce abundant levels of ergosterol, which can be converted in the body to vitamin D. Ergosterol is a sterol and biological precursor or provitamin to vitamin D2. It is turned into viosterol by ultraviolet light, and is then converted into ergocalciferol, which is a form of vitamin D. Mushrooms contain almost no vitamin D2 but are abundant in ergosterol, which can be converted into vitamin D2 by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation.
In a 5-week, single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 26 young subjects with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) less than or equal to 50 nmol/L were randomly assigned into three groups: (a) mushroom, (b) supplement, and (c) placebo. Insufficiency is classified as 25-75 nmol/L (10-30 ng/mL). After 2 weeks, serum 25OHD was significantly higher in the mushroom compared to the placebo group. The serum 25OHD concentrations in the mushroom and supplement groups rose significantly and similarly over the study.
There have been very few studies on Vitamin D bioavailability from food sources. Previous studies on wild mushrooms showed modest improvement in vitamin D status, but have not been confirmed by other researchers or from clinical data. This new study lends credibility to the belief that mushrooms are not only good for health, but can be a source of vitamin D. However, there is no specific date on how much one needs to ingest, daily or weekly, to produce optimal levels. To be certain that mushrooms work for you, I recommend getting your Vitamin D3, 25-hydroxy tested before and then six months later.
INTERPREATION OF TEST RESULTS FOR VITAMIN D3, 25 HYDROXY STATUS
|Deficiency||< 10 ng/mL|
P Urbain, et al. Bioavailability of vitamin D2 from UV-B-irradiated button mushrooms in healthy adults deficient in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) 65, 965–971; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.53; published online 4 May 2011.
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