Looking to boost your vitamin D levels? You might consider adding sliced mushrooms to your salad or ordering chicken Marsala or a Portobello burger for dinner. New research has found mushrooms provide as much vitamin D as supplements and may be as effective at increasing or maintaining healthy levels as popping pills.
The findings, by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, indicate mushrooms are a healthy source of vitamin D2 — which is crucial for good bone health and muscle strength, and helps to boost the immune system and lower the risk of various health conditions.
The study — presented at a meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Boston this week and slated for publication in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology — compared 30 healthy adults who took either capsules containing 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D2, capsules containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, or 2,000 IU of mushroom powder containing vitamin D2 once a day for 12 weeks during the winter.
At the end of the study, researchers found vitamin D levels were not significantly different among the groups.
"These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms that 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," said lead researcher Michael F. Holick.
In a second presentation, the researchers reported mushrooms make vitamin D2 in a process that is similar to what occurs in human skin after sun exposure.
"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," said Holick.
In addition to boosting bone and muscle health, vitamin D plays a key 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.
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