Many of us are aware that vitamin D is essential for bone health & strong teeth. Although there are many gaps in our understanding of other health effects of vitamin D, new research suggests that higher levels of the vitamin may also be important for helping to prevent chronic diseases and conditions including certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Lately scientists have been finding that many of us may not be getting enough vitamin D, particularly if we live in more northern climates, are older, spend most of our time indoors, have darker skin or have diets low in the vitamin.
We get our vitamin D from two sources: exposure to sunlight, which allows the body to produce its own vitamin D using ultraviolet light and cholesterol in the skin; and a limited number of food sources including fortified milk, fish, eggs and mushrooms. Mushrooms are the only vegetable that contain natural vitamin D. They contain a compound called ergosterol that is turned into vitamin D in the body.
Currently, the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D for adults to age 50 is 15 mcg per day (600 IU). It increases to 20 mcg (800 IU) per day for those older than 70 years.
If you are unsure about how much vitamin D you should be getting consult with your physician, pharmacist or a registered dietitian. A 100 gram serving (approximately ½ cup) of sliced fresh raw white mushrooms has 7
IU of vitamin D.
Remember that every little bit adds up to better health. Recent studies have shown that the level of vitamin D in both white and brown mushrooms can be boosted significantly by exposure to ultraviolet light.
Ongoing research is being conducted to determine the appropriate UVB light dosage to increase the vitamin D content of fresh mushrooms up to 100% of the Daily Value or 600 IU.
Fresh Mushrooms Can Help!
- A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who took a calcium Vitamin D supplement that contained 1100 IU vitamin D had a significantly lower incidence of cancer over 4 years compared to women taking a placebo.
- Another study found that colorectal cancer mortality was inversely related to higher blood levels of vitamin D. While this is great news, much more research is needed to confirm these results.
- Researchers in the U.K. found that dietary vitamin D supplementation was associated with a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children.
- Analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study in the U.S. found that a combined daily intake of & 1200 mg calcium and & 800 IU vitamin D was associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to an intake of & 600 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D.
- Results from the Iowa Women’s Health Study showed an inverse relationship between both dietary and supplemental vitamin D and risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
- A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found evidence that vitamin D intake may have a protective effect on risk of developing multiple sclerosis in women.
Mushrooms Make a Difference
- Add 1 cup sliced white button mushrooms to your green salad. Benefit: boost vitamin D by 13 IU.
- Use ½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms instead of sausage in pasta sauce or on pizza. Benefit: boost vitamin D by 96 IU.
- Layer ¾ cup sliced sautéed fresh white mushrooms onto grilled steak or chicken. Benefit: boost vitamin D by17 IU.