About avoiding vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is becoming more difficult to get. Winter keeps people inside and the sun sets much earlier – this is one barrier to getting sunlight and hence vitamin D. Another common struggle for meeting our requirements is work hours. Many people now work long hours during the week and even on weekends, meaning they completely miss out on daylight. The same goes for shift workers who sleep during the day and work at night. Unfortunately vitamin D is difficult to obtain through diet but mushrooms may be one solution to this problem!
What is vitamin D
Vitamin D is also known as cholecalciferol. When our skin is exposed to UV light (sunlight), a reaction occurs that produces vitamin D. We don’t need much sunlight at all in order to meet our vitamin D requirements, however, vitamin D deficiency continues to become more common.
Vitamin D has the following important roles:
- Assists in the development of strong teeth and bones by increasing the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
- Assists with normal growth and development.
- Decreases the risk of osteoporosis.
- Prevents rickets – results in distortion of bones, most commonly known as bowed legs.
- Assists in boosting our immune system to fight off illness.
What foods contain vitamin D?
Unfortunately not many! And those foods that do contain it only provide very small quantities.
- Oily fish
- Egg yolks
The importance of mushrooms
Thanks to recent research, we now know that mushrooms may be able to play a big helping hand in meeting our vitamin D requirements. Why? Mushrooms have the ability to make vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight – just like us. When we eat them, we then receive the vitamin D.
How does this work?
Mushrooms contain ergosterol which is easily converted to ergocalciferol in the presence of sunlight . Ergocalciferol is vitamin D2. You can now buy vitamin D activated mushrooms from some supermarkets. These mushrooms have been exposed to UV rays to increase their vitamin D content. Can’t find them in store? Good news! By placing ordinary mushrooms in sunlight for one hour, you can activate vitamin D2 yourself!
How much will you need to eat?
To meet your daily requirements for vitamin D all you will need to consume is 3 mushrooms that have been exposed to direct sunlight for one hour or that have been bought with the vitamin D already present . Consuming this quantity should actually provide you with over the recommended daily intake of vitamin D . It’s that easy!
Not just vitamin D
Mushrooms aren’t just good for vitamin D – they have so many other benefits!
Here are some of them….
- Low GI
- Great meat substitute for vegetarians
- Contain most of the B vitamins (including B12 – important for vegetarians and vegans),
- High in protein, fibre and minerals such as potassium, selenium and copper.
- Low in kilojoules
- Can be easily disguised in meals if you don’t like them
There has also been some research to show that mushrooms can help to prevent breast cancer 
You can prevent vitamin D deficiency by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods. So now that you know how important vitamin D for maintaining good health and wellbeing, take appropriate action to make sure that you are getting enough.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today!