Mushrooms may provide as much vitamin D as supplements

April 29, 2013

A study published in Dermato-Endocrinology shows that eating mushrooms containing vitamin D2 may be as effective at increasing and maintaining vitamin D levels (25–hydroxyvitamin D) as taking supplemental vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. These findings were also presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology 2013.

Vitamin D is crucial for good bone health and muscle strength; adequate amounts help the body maintain bone density, 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 randomized study, 30 healthy adults took capsules containing 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D2, 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. Baseline serum 25–hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], a measure to determine a person’s vitamin D status, were not significantly different among the groups.

The levels among the three groups gradually increased and plateaued at seven weeks and were maintained for the next five weeks. After 12 weeks of the vitamin D supplements, the levels were not statistically significantly different than those who ingested the mushroom powder.

“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 Michael F. Holick, the principal investigator from Boston University School of Medicine. “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.”

Press release (pdf)