In many parts of the country, winters can be long and the exposure to sunlight limited. Even in the summer months, people can still be vitamin D deficient because sunscreen can block the absorption of Vitamin D.
Humans convert sunlight into vitamin D much like mushrooms do. In our bodies, UV light transforms calciferol (but not ergosterol) into vitamin D. In mushrooms, UV light transforms ergosterol into vitamin D. Mushrooms exposed to sunlight have a tremendous amount of vitamin D. Therefore, consuming light-exposed mushrooms is a good way to supplement your vitamin D, especially for those not getting sufficient sunlight to manufacture their own vitamin D.
Why do we need vitamin D? According to a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and poor cognitive performance. In his 2004 article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Michael F. Hollick summarizes the research that links the lack of vitamin D to auto-immune diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
How much vitamin D do we need? The FDA recommends that we consume 400 IU of vitamin D daily. However, the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, issued new recommendations for dosages of vitamin D, which include 600 IU per day for people up to age 70, and 800 IU for those over 70. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend 800-1000 IU daily.
In his article Vitamin D: Why You Are Probably NOT Getting Enough and How That Makes You Sick in the Huffington Post, Dr. Mark Hyman, author and founder of The Wellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, reports that “70-80 percent of the population is vitamin D deficient.” Two recent studies in the journal Pediatrics found that 70 percent of American kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D. This can have grave consequences. A vitamin D deficiency in children puts them at greater risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, lower levels of good cholesterol, and an increased risk of developing heart disease later in life. Dr. Hyman indicates that “7.6 million, or nine percent, of US children were vitamin-D deficient, and another 50.8 million, or 61 percent, had insufficient levels of this important vitamin in their blood.”
How much vitamin D is in sun-exposed mushrooms? Experiments conducted by Fungi Perfecti Research Laboratories in 2004, in accordance with the standards to the Official Methods of Analysis of AOAAC International, produced some amazing results:
- Shiitake mushroom caps from mushrooms grown in supplemented sawdust indoors under normal growth conditions (in filtered light, not direct sunlight) and dried in a dryer (not exposed to sunlight) contain 110 IU/100g of vitamin D.
- Shiitake mushroom caps from mushrooms grown in supplemented sawdust indoors under normal growth conditions (in filtered light, not direct sunlight) and sun-dried for 12 hours with the gills facing down contain 10,900 IU/100g of vitamin D.
- Shiitake mushroom caps grown in supplemented sawdust indoors under normal growth conditions (in filtered light, not direct sunlight) and sun-dried for 12 hours with the gills facing up contain 46,000 IU/100g of vitamin D
Mushrooms dried in the sun with the gills facing up have 460 times as much vitamin D as mushrooms dried inside! In addition, researchers found that one year later, the sun-dried mushrooms retained a large amount of vitamin D. Therefore, the sun-dried mushrooms could be stored and used as a great source of vitamin D year round. So, wait no longer. Grow and sun-dry your own mushrooms for a fantastic supply of food-based vitamin D!
Hollick, Michael F. “Sunlight and Vitamin D for Bone Health and Prevention of Autoimmune Diseases, Cancers, and Cardiovascular Disease”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., n.d. 2004. Web. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/6/1678S.full?gca=80%252F6%252F1678S&gca=80%252F6%252F1717S&gca=80%252F6%252F1721S&sendit=Get%20All%20Checked%20Abstract%2528s%2529
Hyman, Mark, MD. “Vitamin D: Why You Are Probably NOT Getting Enough and How That Makes You Sick”;. Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. 2010. Web. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/vitamin-d-why-you-are-pro_b_585311.html>
Juhi Kumar M.D., M.P.H., Paul Muntner Ph. D., Fredrick Kaskel M.D.; Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevalence and Associations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Deficiency in US Children: NHANES 2001–2004
McCarty, David E., MD, Aronkumar Reddy, MD, Quinton Keigley, BS, Paul Y. Kim, PhD, and Andrew A. Marino, PhD. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. American Academy of Sleep Medicine, n.d. Web. <http://www.aasmnet.org/jcsm/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=28731>.
Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. 2005. Print.
Wilkins, Consuelo H., MD, Yvette I. Sheline, MD, Catherine M. Roe, PhD, Stanley J. Birge, MD, and John C. Morris, MD. “American Journal of Geriatric Psych.”Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Low Mood and Worse C… :. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2006. Web. <http://journals.lww.com/ajgponline/Abstract/2006/12000/Vitamin_D_Deficiency_Is_Associated_With_Low_Mood.7.aspx>.