Mushrooms `contain as much vitamin D as supplements`

Updated: Apr 23, 2013, 15:54 PM IST

Washington: Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D2 and is as effective as taking vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D intake is crucial to the process of calcium absorption and maintaining healthy bones.

Vitamin D helps the body in maintaining bone density thus reducing the risk of fracture, osteomalacia, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. The nutrient also plays an integral role in modulating the immune system to help fight infections like the flu and reduces the risk of many common diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes.

For the study, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) studied the data obtained from 30 healthy adult participants who were asked to take vitamin D supplements or vitamin D2 mushroom powder. The participants were randomly selected to take either vitamin D2, vitamin D3 or the mushroom powder for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, there was no difference in the amount of vitmamin D found among the paricipants.

"These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms which have been exposed to ultraviolet light and contain vitamin D2, are a good source of vitamin D that can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults. Furthermore we found ingesting mushrooms containing vitamin D2 was as effective in raising and maintaining a healthy adult`s vitamin D status as ingesting a supplement that contained either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3," said Michael F. Holick , PhD, MD, the principal investigator of the abstract.

According to Holick and his coauthors, ingesting mushrooms containing vitamin D2 can be an effective strategy to enhance a persons` vitamin D status. "The observation that some mushrooms when exposed to UVB light also produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4 can also provide the consumer with at least two additional vitamin Ds," he added.

In a second poster presentation, the researchers were able to determine how mushrooms make vitamin D2 and found that the process is similar to what occurs in human skin after sun exposure. They were also able to show that mushrooms not only produce vitamin D2, but can produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4.

"Although it has been previously reported that mushrooms have the ability to produce both vitamin D2 and vitamin D4, through our own research we were able to detect several types of vitamin Ds and provitamin Ds in mushroom samples including vitamin D3 which is also made in human skin," added Holick.

The study will be presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Microbiology annual meeting in Boston