Can Edible Mushrooms Boost Vitamin D? : An Exclusive Renegade Health Article by Dr. J.E. Williams

Monday Aug 8 | BY |
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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


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.


Deficiency < 10 ng/mL
Insufficiency 10-30 ng/mL
Sufficiency 30-100 ng/mL
Desirable 39-100 ng/mL
Optimal 70-100 ng/mL
Toxicity >100 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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  1. Nick says:

    Great news would like to know how long and how much exposure to sun is needed to raise the vitamin D inside the mushroom.

  2. Nick says:

    And also if the mushroom exposed to the sun stores the vitamin d and for how long?

  3. Jeff says:

    Well reading the abstract of the study they just used D2. Should of really had a D3 group as well to see how much more effective D3 would of been.

  4. Jeffery A. Arnson, Certified Nutritional Microscopist says:

    I think mushrooms come in one of two forms: 1) those that kill you really fast and 2) those that kill you slowly. Look at what mushrooms are — the fungal seed heads of yeast, growing as a result of the waste or debris of dying or decaying natural fibers. Would you eat rotten wood that’s stored under ground for ten years, and think that it’ll make you feel better? Mushrooms are acidic and cause your amazing human organism to have to work hard to remove that toxic waste from your body. When your body has to compensate for this incoming acid, in the form of fungus, your body will eventually deplete the vital organs and tissues of your body of the minerals and nutrients necessary to maintain your alkaline balance. The lack of an adequate alkaline balance is the cause of all illness and disease, so why rob Peter to pay Paul? And then guess what, once your overly acidic, you’ll need more vitamin D, and iron, and potassium, and calcium and magnesium, and sodium… Maintaining an adequate supply of alkaline buffering reserves (I just listed some of them) will help your amazing human organism to return to and then maintain an alkaline balance, with a blood pH of 7.365. This information is all viewable in a qualitative live and dry blood demonstration with a certified nutritional microscopist. Eating mushrooms doesn’t “return you to an alkaline balance,” they’ll just make you sicker.

  5. Coco says:

    Mushrooms should not be eaten raw so unless I’m cooking them…

  6. Lara_H says:

    Great news at such a lovely time of the year! There is an abundance of mushrooms in the forest now. My guess is that wild mushrooms are the ones we should eat for D vitamin.

    There is this guy (lasse nordlund) who lived self sustained in the forest for years, and he ate humongous amounts of mushrooms and felt fantastic. I think he even said that he did so to keep up his vitamin D levels.

  7. Chris G. says:

    It should also be noted that the sheep skin oil is usually derived post-mortem and that it also comes from cod liver oil making it not even vegetarian.

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