Vitamin D is a vital vitamin for our body. We need vitamin D to keep our bones, muscle and teeth healthy. When my husband and I became vegan, we always made sure that we have sufficient intake of both vitamins D and B12. Since vitamin B12 does not occur naturally in plants and we can’t get it through a vegan diet (except fortified cereals etc) we must supplement. However, vitamin D is a different story. It is available to us via diet, supplements and sunlight.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.

It is not always easy to pinpoint if you are deficient in vitamin D as the symptoms are not always prominent. However, the body might give you a signal that it might lack vitamin D if you experienced any of these symptoms.

  • Joint Pain
  • Bone Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increase the risk of fracture

The major downside of Vitamin D deficiency causes osteoporosis in adults and bone deformities in children, such as rickets.

So it is very important that our body has an optimum level of vitamin D to keep us healthy and happy.

Most foods have very little vitamin D for the exception of mushrooms particularly shiitake and chanterelles. Mushrooms provide a substantial amount of vitamin D2 in a single-serving as an unfortified food source of vitamin D.

Keep in mind that this is not related to the mushrooms that have grown indoors for commercial purpose. Commercially grown mushrooms are often grown in the dark and contain very little D2. Unless it’s specified on the label that the mushrooms are enriched with vitamin D, which means they have been exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet B. It is also a known fact that mushrooms continue to produce vitamin D even after they are harvested as long as they are placed in direct sunlight.

How do mushrooms contain vitamin D

Mushrooms contain ergosterol. Ergosterol is a component of yeast and other fungal cells membranes and playing a similar role as cholesterol function in animal cells.

When mushrooms are exposed to ultraviolet light it causes a photochemical reaction and makes ergosterol to convert into Vitamin D2. (Vitamin D3 is derived from animal source).

Always eat mushrooms including stems, since mushrooms provide in addition to vitamin D, B group vitamins and minerals such as selenium, copper, zinc and potassium. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/

How to add vitamin D to mushrooms

The study has found that Mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as supplements however, they must be exposed to sunlight prior to eating. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422132801.htm

Boosting vitamin D in mushrooms is very simple and easy to do.

Simply place mushrooms in a jar and let it be under the sunlight exposure for a couple of hours before eating.

The level of vitamin D will depend on the strength of the sunlight. If the sun isn’t strong then supplementing would be an alternative to keep an optimum level of vitamin D.

Supplementing with vitamin D

The medical community don’t agree on the use of supplements. As some doctors warn against the use of supplements that contain vitamin D.

The recommended amount of vitamin D (RDA) for adults who live in the USA and Canada is 15–20 μg/day (600–800 IU), 15 μg/day (600 IU) as set by the European Food Safety Authority whereas 10 μg/day (400 IU) in the United Kingdom. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/

Four dried shiitake provide about 250 IU of vitamin D. Apart from getting vitamin D in mushrooms, you can also get it from fortified foods such as in soy, almond and rice milk (80-120 IU) per cup.

We’d rather add mushrooms to our diet than taking pills but we’re not doctors and we advise that you seek medical advice from someone qualified.

Is it sufficient to get vitamin D from sunlight?

Vitamin D is in fact not a vitamin, it’s a hormone synthesized with the help of sunlight. Which means that our skin actually produces a sufficient amount by using sunlight, the ultraviolet radiation.

Dr Mcdougall, recommends people who are in excellent health should not supplement and must get sunshine. There is no substitute. https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2015nl/mar/vitamind.htm

To get a healthful dose of vitamin D you need sunlight on your skin to be exposed to UVB rays and therefore requires spending more time outside. People with fair skin wearing a bikini out in the sun for 20 minutes can produce 20,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D. Compared to a large fatty piece of fish might contain only 1,000 IU. More sun exposure is needed if you have darker skin because darker skin contains more UV blocking melanin. https://nutritionstudies.org/important-vitamin-d-facts-needknow/

Our superior body is also capable of storing the vitamin in the liver and the fatty tissues during the wintertime when the sunlight is most limited.

It is good to be exposed to the sun and get vitamin D naturally making sure that you never burn and damage your skin.

If you are worried about vitamin D and not sure if you receiving a sufficient amount, please contact your doctor and check your levels.

This article was written with no intention to give you medical advice but gives you information to empower people on their health.

Sources / Reference

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergosterol