Our body needs vitamin D to maintain a balance of calcium and phosphate, which is responsible for the health of the bones. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing rickets and osteoporosis and is also very important for the functioning of the immune system, the central nervous system and muscle development. Plus, there is growing evidence that maintaining normal vitamin D levels contributes to reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer.
Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines), beef liver, egg yolk (thus confirming the theory that the egg white omelette is the devil’s food) and whole-fat dairy products such as milk and butter. Vitamin D-enriched reduced-fat dairy products are also present on the market, but vitamin D intake remains low. Most people get barely 10% of their daily intake of vitamin D from food, relying on sunlight and dietary supplements.
Eating more fish and eggs makes sense for some people, but bad news that most people can’t eat them. And that’s why it’s worth making friends with mushrooms!
Mushroom naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight or other UV light. But most mushrooms are grown in the dark, so they are low in vitamin D. The 100 grams of mushrooms (about 3 heads) available in supermarkets contain between 1 and 5 micrograms of vitamin D, while the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is between 5 and 15 micrograms for older people.
As long as the mushrooms purchased in the store contain moderate amounts of vitamin D, mushrooms are able to produce more than 20 micrograms of it after spending a few hours in the southern sunshine. Research shows that for one hour, mushrooms exposed to the winter southern sunshine produce 10 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams, which is a large part of the recommended daily intake.
If the freshly picked mushrooms are exposed to a few flashes of ultraviolet light immediately after picking, they quickly produce vitamin D while retaining their good appearance and nutritional value (leaving them for too long generates browning and drying out).
Mushrooms can be very easily incorporated into the daily diet, when finely chopped they can be part of the Bologna sauce or roasted with garlic and butter is a great addition to scrambled eggs and toast. Toasted mushrooms are also a great alternative to burgers like meatballs, depending on what form you like!