Vitamin D is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium from food. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Vitamin D is important to the body in many other ways as well. Muscles need it to move, for example, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body.1
The current recommended intake level of vitamin D is triple the value from 1997:
|Life Stage||Recommended Amount|
|Birth to 12 months||400 IU|
|Children 1–13 years||600 IU|
|Teens 14–18 years||600 IU|
|Adults 19–70 years||600 IU|
|Adults 71 years and older||800 IU|
|Pregnant and breastfeeding women||600 IU|
Many people living in the northern hemisphere suffer from lower levels of vitamin D during the fall, winter and spring. Fortunately, you can get your vitamin D by eating mushrooms. When mushrooms are exposed to sunlight, their levels of vitamin D increase exponentially. You can sun dry store-bought shiitake, button, portabella, and many other mushroom species.
Here is my own supply of boletus mushrooms that I picked and dried last summer. For the higher vitamin D content, I dried my mushrooms outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing upwards for full sun exposure. Now I enjoy adding them to my salads, smoothies and soups.
According to Professor Hanne L. Kristensen, of Aarhus University, mushrooms contain higher vitamin D concentration than salmon. Kristensen and her colleagues have managed to produce 164 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams of mushrooms, and that’s a lot:
“In comparison, salmon, which is often mentioned as one of the main sources of vitamin D, contains only around 30 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams.”2
In the following 7-minute video Sergei, takes you on a fun mushroom hunt with Mycologist Cameron Meeks:
If you live in the Southern hemisphere, this may be a good time for picking fresh mushrooms. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you may buy and add more mushrooms to your daily meals.