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Mushrooms deemed solution for vitamin D-eficient Vegans


  • Health expert warns vegan community that one in four are vitamin D deficient

  • Plant-based eaters face daily challenge to consume vitamin D

  • Many supplements and foods highest in vitamin D are not vegan-friendly

  • Nutritionist, Rob Hobsons, explains how MUSHROOMS are as effective at boosting and maintaining vitamin D levels as supplements are

  • Known for maintaining a healthy immune system, the sunshine vitamin as moved a step closer to being used as a potential way to prevent and treat Coronavirus

A health expert believes that MUSHROOMS could be the vitamin d superfood solution for deficient vegans. The news follows Matt Hancock’s plea this week to government health advisers to produce new guidelines on its use, after reviewing how the sunshine vitamin could have the ability to reduce the risk of Coronavirus. For those that adopt a plant-based diet, getting enough vitamin D each day can be challenging. Many of the foods highest in vitamin D, such as salmon, egg yolks, and shellfish, are not vegan-friendly.

According to fresh data, Brits opting for plant-based meals has grown by a whopping 50 per cent1 in recent months, with further data showing the sales of meat alternatives are up 31 per cent.

With the nation in lockdown and spending an additional EIGHT hours indoors each day, health experts warn that Brits vitamin D levels are at risk of falling.

With lack of sunlight a cause for concern, 13 per cent of Brits have admitted they worry that they will develop a vitamin D deficiency.

Research commissioned by the UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers, a partnership between British and Irish mushroom farmers and producers, has revealed that 22 per cent of people agreed to being worried about developing a weak immune system during the winter months2.

With many vegans contemplating how they can achieve their daily dose of the essential vitamin, Nutritionist, Rob Hobson, says mushrooms exposed to the sun can provide as much vitamin D as a health supplement.

Hobson said on the subject, “Mushrooms are easily overlooked in the fruit and veg rainbow we’re advised to eat. They are commonly overlooked as a significant source of the sunshine vitamin D. A key vitamin essential to support a normal immune system, vitamin D plays a vital role in keeping our bones healthy, as it works to regulate our intake of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.”

“Mushrooms are the only vegetarian food that can make vitamin D as they contain a specific compound called ergosterol.”

“Ergosterol is converted into vitamin D when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, similarly to how human skin synthesises the vitamin in response to sun exposure. The form of vitamin D produced in mushrooms is D2, unlike the D3 found in the few animal foods that naturally contain the vitamin.”

Much like our skin, mushrooms transform ultraviolet light from the sun into the vitamin and continue to do so even after they have been harvested.

Research commissioned by the partnership has revealed that one in four of us are not getting our daily recommended vitamin intake, with a further quarter having “no clue” on what the recommended daily amount even is.

The latest NHS3 advice urges the public to consider increasing their vitamin D intake from 5 micrograms to 10 micrograms.

“As we spend less time in the daylight throughout lockdown and the winter months, we need to explore different ways of finding how to best get what our bodies need. A readily available and easily overlooked source are mushrooms, that can be bought specially enriched with vitamin D.”

Rob explains that eating just eight vitamin D enriched mushrooms a day would give you your daily recommended amount.

A staggering 84 per cent of those surveyed said they were unaware that they could achieve their RDA by simply incorporating the enriched mushroom into their everyday meals. 

A tip from Rob, “Mushrooms absorb vitamin D much in the same way as humans do - directly through their skin. If you can’t get your hands-on vitamin D enriched mushrooms and can only find regular mushrooms, simply place them outside on a windowsill in direct sunlight for around 30 minutes and they will enrich with vitamin D.”

Mushrooms naturally contain provitamin D and when they come into direct contact with UV rays, that converts into Vitamin D.

Rob Hobson recommends taking the fungi out of their wrapping and leave them outside for half an hour before eating.

“Any variety will work and it doesn’t matter which way up they are. It is best to do it between the hours of 10am and 3pm for up to 60 minutes.”

And cooking does not affect vitamin levels, says Rob. “Many experts believe that cooking will not damage the vitamin levels, and it is perfectly stable with heat. If anything, it makes it far easier to absorb the nutrient.”

Mushrooms are embracing their superfood status, with 37 per cent of the population agreeing that mushrooms are the most versatile vegetable when used as a meat free alternative, highlighting their popularity amongst plant-based eaters. 

Data suggests millennials are moving away from plant-based products containing soy and are now more attracted to ‘meaty’ ingredients such as mushrooms.

Sales of mushrooms are reportedly on the rise by up 16 per cent, with a spike in purchases believed to be linked to their health benefits4.

According to the UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers, this equates to 2.5 BILLION mushrooms (25K tonnes) sold in the UK alone these past 12 months.

Supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, has seen a significant rise, with total sales this year up by 20 per cent, sales of flat mushrooms soaring by 16 per cent, and sales of closed mushrooms up by 44 per cent5.

Tesco has also seen an increase in sales with a total growth of 9 per cent, sales of its closed mushrooms rising by 8 per cent, and sales of button mushrooms soaring by 37 per cent6.

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