Health & Nutrition

Vitamin D-eficient?

19 January 2021

How the magic mushroom could change that

It’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy immune system. British and Irish mushroom producers explain how mushrooms could be the superfood solution this winter.

Vitamin D has been proclaimed as a miracle panacea connected to everything from reducing the risk of cold and flu to prevention of cancer. Linked to tiredness and low mood during the winter months, there is now concern about widespread deficiency in the UK and Ireland. 

The most recent national survey found that up to one in four people were deficient, thanks to a combination of low dietary intake and inadequate sun exposure. And now vitamin D deficiency has been linked to Covid-19.

Public Health England recently advised that all children and adults should be taking ten micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D daily to boost immune systems and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

So how do we get adequate amounts of vitamin D? Sunlight is our primary source, but as we spend more time indoors during autumn and winter, we need to seek alternative options. The essential vitamin can be found in foods such as fatty fish, hard cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms.

Mushrooms are easily overlooked in the fruit and veg rainbow we’re advised to eat but have rapidly become the latest superfood trend.

Health benefits of mushrooms

High in fibre and containing virtually no fat, sugar, or salt, mushrooms have long been studied for their health benefits and effects on a range of illnesses. Known as nature’s ‘sunny sponges’, mushrooms have the ability to increase vitamin D amounts when exposed to UV-light or sunlight, thanks to the fungi containing a specific compound called ergosterol. 

Ergosterol is converted into vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, similarly to how human skin synthesises the vitamin in response to sun exposure. 

The form of vitamin D produced in mushrooms is D2, unlike the D3 found in the few animal foods that naturally contain the vitamin. As a vegan source of vitamin D, it is just as effective at elevating and maintaining blood levels of the nutrient.

Functional fungi from farmers

Mushrooms specifically enriched with the sunshine vitamin are readily available at supermarkets, thanks to The UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers.

Eating just eight vitamin D enriched mushrooms a day would give you your daily recommended amount. 

Whilst enriched mushrooms will naturally come with a greater vitamin D content, you can add a natural dose to regular British or Irish mushrooms by placing them on a windowsill when the sun is at its strongest between 10am and 3pm for around 15-120 minutes.

Shopping the freshest, locally sourced mushrooms that have travelled fewer miles will ensure you consume the most nutritious mushrooms available.

Why you should eat more mushrooms?

Not only are they nutritious and delicious, but locally grown mushrooms are available 365 days a year in UK and Irish supermarkets thanks to the indigenous environment and climate provide ideal growing conditions. They thrive in this cool, damp, low-lit northern corner of Europe. Versatile and with a firm bite, the mushroom is a mainstay of many cost-effective meal choices.

Why not try give yourself a nutrient boost the next time you buy a pack of mushrooms, to find out just how magical mushrooms really are, visit mushroomsaremagic.co.uk.

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