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Mushrooms Help Raise Vitamin D Levels

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 07 May 2013
Eating mushrooms may be as effective at raising serum vitamin D levels as taking vitamin D2 or D3 supplements, according to a new study.

Researchers at Boston University (MA, USA) conducted a study that randomized 30 adults (mean age 35.2), to one of three interventions taken once a day for 12 weeks during the winter. The first involved capsules containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3; the second involved capsules containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D2; while the third involved extract of dried white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D2. All patients had similar baseline levels of serum vitamin 25(OH)D. In all, 25 patients completed all 12 weeks of the study.

The results showed that serum vitamin D levels gradually increased until they reached a plateau at about 7 weeks for all three groups, and were maintained for the next 5 weeks. According to the researchers, the results confirm other studies that have shown eating vitamin D2—as fortified orange juice, a supplement, or a pharmaceutical formulation--can increase total circulating serum D levels for at least 3 months, and up to 6 years. The study was presented at the joint American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Experimental Biology meeting, held during April 2013 in Boston (MA, USA).

“These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms […] can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults,” said lead author and study presenter Michael Holick, MD, PhD. “Exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light can produce vitamins D3 and D4 as well, giving patients additional vitamin D.”

Mushrooms produce vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation, in a similar process by which humans produce vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Not all plants possess this property, but fungi, seaweed, and yeast do. Clinicians recommend vitamin D3 supplements, particularly for those who are vitamin D deficient or insufficient, but studies have shown vitamin D2 to be effective at increasing serum levels of the vitamin as well.

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