What have you done to the mushroom to increase its vitamin D?

Wild mushrooms naturally start producing vitamin D once they see a bit of daylight. Commercially grown mushrooms don’t see daylight – they grow well in enclosed growing rooms. After they are harvested, they are exposed to one or two seconds of  UV light and this starts the natural vitamin D production process within the mushroom.

Is this natural?

Yes, it is perfectly natural. The mushroom farmer is simply mimicking nature by exposing the mushroom to light after harvesting and getting the mushroom to make its own vitamin D. Mushrooms left out in the sunlight for a while will generate their own vitamin D.

Is the D Mushroom a new type of mushroom?

No. These are just your normal, regular mushrooms that have received a small amount of light after they have been harvested.

Are you fortifying the mushrooms with vitamin D?

No, the mushrooms aren’t fortified or genetically-modified in any way. Mushrooms make their own vitamin D in response to light, in the same way your skin makes vitamin D when you are in the sun.

Does that mean that if I took regular mushrooms and put them out in the sun for a while they would start producing vitamin D?

Yes. The sun may cause your mushrooms to discolour and to dry out a little. Vitamin D mushrooms, available from shops, have been exposed to a short amount of light back on the farm and won’t discolour or lose water.

Can you absorb the vitamin D in mushrooms the same as from other foods or a supplement?

Yes, vitamin D in mushrooms raises blood vitamin D as effectively as taking a supplement. Research in both animals and humans shows the intestine can quickly absorb the vitamin D from mushrooms and raise blood levels of vitamin D with the added advantage of giving you a range of B vitamins, as well as selenium and fibre.

Is the vitamin D in mushrooms as effective as the vitamin D in fish?

There are two types of vitamin D – D2 in mushrooms and D3 in animal and fortified foods. Researchers believe the vitamin D2 found in mushrooms raises vitamin D levels in the same way as other foods containing vitamin D.

Do these mushrooms taste different to regular mushrooms?

No, placing mushrooms in light for a short amount of time doesn’t affect the flavour or the cooking properties of mushrooms.

Will the vitamin D levels in the mushroom change if I cook them or leave them in the fridge for a couple of days?

Vitamin D is robust vitamin and its levels change very little over a week, whether at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen. While cooked mushrooms may lose up to 10-15% of their vitamin D content, they do retain over 85% which is excellent for vitamin retention in cooked food.

Can I eat too many vitamin D mushrooms?

The amount of vitamin D in the D mushrooms is very close to levels found in wild mushrooms. One serve provides your daily dose of vitamin D. It is almost impossible to overdose on vitamin D from eating vitamin D rich foods. Vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare and has only been seen in people injecting vast amounts of vitamin D, not eating foods known to contain vitamin B.

How many mushrooms do I need to eat to get my daily needs of vitamin D?

Three button mushrooms is all that’s needed to get your daily needs, or just one flat mushroom. That’s around 100 grams.

I read in one of the research papers that the mushrooms were irradiated with UV light. What kind of radiation are we talking about?

Researchers have to use scientific terminology in research papers. Light is technically non-ionising radiation. This kind of radiation includes sunlight, house lights, microwaves, radio waves and even the thermal radiation from your heater keeping you warm in the winter. Sunlight includes UV light, visible light and infra-red light. It is the UV light that stimulates the mushroom to produce vitamin D. So, when researchers say they have irradiated the mushrooms with UV light, they mean they have exposed mushrooms to a type of light found in sunlight.

I thought that vitamin D was a fat-soluble vitamin, but mushrooms have virtually no fat? No consumer would be interested in this…

Yes, vitamin D is fat soluble. In the mushroom there is abundant ergosterol that is present within a very thin layer of fat in the cell walls of the mushroom. Mushrooms contain abundant levels of ergosterol that are present within a very thin layer of fat in the cell walls of the mushroom.

With the action of light many micrograms of ergosterol convert to vitamin D within that thin fat layer. A serve of mushrooms has only 0.3 gram of fat, which is 300,000 micrograms, enough to look after 20 or 30 micrograms of vitamin D in the same serve. When mushrooms are exposed to light, they convert the ergosterol to vitamin D2.

Are vitamin D mushrooms good for my bones?

Yes. One serve of vitamin D mushrooms provides all your daily needs of vitamin D, a vitamin crucial to the absorption of calcium from the diet. However, you should still take high calcium foods, such as milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified soy drinks.

Does putting the mushroom under light affect other nutrients?

No. A detailed analysis of mushrooms exposed to light to generate vitamin D showed it did not affect the levels of other vitamins or minerals. The mushroom retained all of its nutritional benefits.

Can I get vitamin D from other vegetables?

No, vegetables do not make vitamin D. Mushrooms are not a plant food and therefore have a different nutrition profile to vegetables. It is this difference that enables the mushroom to make its own vitamin D from the action of light, similar to you making vitamins D when your skin receives sunlight.

Can I get my daily vitamin D needs from food other than mushrooms?

It is very difficult to get all your vitamin D needs from your diet. Some foods naturally contain vitamin D, like oily fish and eggs, while other foods are fortified with vitamin D, like margarine and some milks. Australians eat less than half of their vitamin D needs each day and many eat less than a quarter of their needs. The only food that can provide you with all your vitamin D for the day in a single serve is the light-exposed mushroom. The mushroom is the only natural non-animal source of vitamin D.

If I don’t eat much margarine or eggs or fish, do I have to eat mushrooms every day to get enough vitamin D?

No. As long as you get adequate sunlight and eat vitamin D mushrooms three to four times a week, then you should be getting enough vitamin D.

Where can I find vitamin D Mushrooms?

They will be released first to the Sydney greengrocers/fruit markets/shops and supermarkets.

Will the vitamin D mushrooms cost more?

They will cost a little more to cover the extra production costs. However, mushroom growers have done their best to keep those added costs to a minimum.

How would I know if I am getting enough vitamin D?

See your GP. A simple blood test will give you your vitamin D levels.

Why the fuss about vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a very important vitamin to the body. Every organ in your body has a vitamin D receptor meaning that vitamin D is critical to the normal functioning of every organ in the body. Australian research shows many of us are very low in vitamin D. Even many healthy young people are low in vitamin D, probably because they don’t get outside much during the middle of the day due to work commitments.

Besides being necessary for bone health, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and depression. Adequate vitamin D reduces the chance of falls, bone fractures and the loss of muscle strength. The accumulating evidence suggests that getting enough vitamin D has broad health benefits.

… so shine a light on your health with vitamin D mushrooms!

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