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< class="article__title title mushrooms-and-vitamin-d-do-mushrooms-contain-vitamin-d"> Mushrooms and Vitamin D: Do Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D?>
Mushrooms and Vitamin D: Do Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D?
Dec 20, 22
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Author: Sony Sherpa

Mushrooms and Vitamin D: Do Mushrooms Contain Vitamin D?

  • by Sony Sherpa
  • |
  • 8 min read

For a good reason, vitamin D has long been referred to as "the sunshine vitamin." This is because UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun cause the synthesis of vitamin D when they hit our skin. But what about people who reside in the northern hemisphere and are pining for sunshine? This is when you'll want to figure out how to supplement your vitamin D intake.

Although foods like fatty fish (sardines, salmon, herring, cod liver oil, and tuna), egg yolks, and hard cheese naturally contain vitamin D, this could present a problem if you consume a plant-based diet. So, can you find vegan, plant-based alternatives that are both healthy and delicious and help you achieve adequate vitamin D levels?

Around the world, 1 billion people struggle to consume the recommended amount of vitamin D. Because we recognize the urgency the population needs to restore their bodies to healthy levels, we have some excellent news: vitamin D in mushrooms!

Naturally, your next question would be, do mushrooms have vitamin D? What are the mushrooms high in vitamin D?

Maitake, Shitake, Portabella, and Cremini are mushrooms that contain vitamin D. Likewise, other medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Lion’s mane, Chaga, Cordyceps, and Turkey tail are also known to have a considerable amount of the sunshine vitamin. Some of these mushrooms contain high levels of ergosterol, the plant sterol that converts to Vitamin D when exposed to UV rays.

So, let’s uncover how much vitamin D in mushrooms and mushrooms vitamin D benefits! But first, we understand why Vitamin D is essential to our nutrition.

Vitamin D: Overview, Sources, And Significance

Vitamin D: Overview, Sources, And Significance

Every day, the human body needs various nutrients to function at its best; while some of these nutrients are non-essential and can be produced by the body on their own, others must be consumed through diet (essential).

Vitamin D(1), a fat-soluble vitamin, is essential for the body. It increases magnesium, calcium, and phosphate absorption, which is necessary for healthy bone development and maintenance. 

According to recent research, vitamin D also aids in the following:

  • Preventing bone fractures.
  • Amplify lung capacity.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Decrease the likelihood of multiple sclerosis.
  • Lower young people's risk of developing diabetes.

A concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D higher than 30 ng/mL is necessary to maintain a healthy vitamin D level in the blood.  When exposed to sunlight, our bodies make vitamin D. It's challenging to get enough vitamin D in this way for a few reasons.

You cover up, use sunscreen, and stay indoors during the sun's peak hours to lower your risk of developing skin cancer. Additionally, getting enough year-round sun exposure might not be possible, depending on where you live and the job you do.

Therefore, it is best to obtain vitamin D from food or supplements. But some people prefer to get their vitamin D "naturally" through their diet rather than taking supplements. The only vegetable with naturally occurring Vitamin D is mushrooms. All other natural sources of vitamin D are found in foods that come from animals, poultry, or seafood.

Mushrooms And Vitamin D

Mushrooms And Vitamin D

The consumption of mushrooms has increased significantly over the past 40 years. As a result, they may soon become the only non-animal, unfortified food source of vitamin D that can deliver a significant amount of vitamin D2 in a single serving.

But how does mushrooms have vitamin D? Ergosterol, a type of plant sterol (similar to cholesterol in humans) found in cultivated mushrooms, is a precursor to vitamin D2. Exposure of fresh mushrooms to ultraviolet light, which can come from both natural and artificial sources, stimulates the conversation of ergosterol to vitamin D2.

D3 is more abundant in animal sources, while D2 is found in mushrooms. D3's longevity is the only benefit to taking one kind over the other (it stays in the bloodstream for several weeks instead of just days like D2).

However, mushrooms also require sun exposure time to UVB radiation to maximize the amount of vitamin D they contain. Because they have high levels of provitamin D2, a vitamin D precursor, sunlight- or UV-exposed mushrooms are a great source of dietary vitamin D2.

Provitamin D2 is transformed into previtamin D2 in mushrooms when they are exposed to UV light. Previtamin D2 forms quickly and isomerizes to vitamin D2 in the same way that previtamin D3 does in human skin.

According to one study(2), any type of mushroom can raise its vitamin D2 levels by being exposed to pulsed UV light. The amount of ultraviolet radiation that the mushrooms were exposed to increased with each additional pulse, providing more energy for the synthesis of vitamin D2. After being exposed to pulsed UV light, the oyster and shiitake mushrooms had higher Vitamin D2 content than the other tested mushrooms..

White button mushrooms are frequently grown in the dark, unlike mushrooms that grow in the wild, where they have access to sunlight. This explains why the vitamin D levels in the two mushrooms were different.

This study suggests that foraging mushrooms might be the best approach, but what if you are unwilling to venture into the woods? The good news is that mushrooms used in dietary supplements are grown and produced the same way as those used in cooking and contain the same beneficial properties, if not more! 

Studies(3) have examined mushrooms' potential to support bone health by providing adequate vitamin D to animals, and this research has been replicated five times with similar success.

In a European study(4), the experimental group was given 200 grams of irradiated mushrooms in a soup as their vitamin D source. Non-irradiated mushrooms were used as a placebo, and a group that received equal doses of a D2 supplement was also tested. The outcomes once more demonstrated mushrooms' capacity to steadily increase serum vitamin D levels in the body in line with vitamin D2 supplementation.

Mushrooms supplements that contain considerable amounts of vitamin D are:

  • Lion's mane (Hericium erinaceus)
  • Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
  • Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum
  • Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
  • Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)
  • Cordyceps(5)

The great thing about medicinal mushrooms is that they help increase vitamin D and are also great allies for immune health. They promote a healthy inflammatory response, support immunity, and enhance host immune defense.


Do Fresh Mushrooms Have Vitamin D?

Mushroom vitamin D levels are highest in fresh fungi exposed to UV rays. Maitake, white button, portabella, and cremini are fresh mushrooms with high vitamin D levels.

>Which Mushrooms Has The Most Vitamin D?

Morels and chanterelles, which are grown and harvested in the wild, have been found to have higher levels of vitamin D2. Other mushrooms like Maitake, Cremini, Reishi, Chaga, Lion's mane, and Cordyceps are also rich in Vitamin D.

Are Mushrooms High In D3?

Mushrooms produce vitamin D2 when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, these are the only good non-animal source of vitamin D, other than fortified foods.

Final Thoughts

You might seriously consider using mushrooms to get your vitamin D if you follow a plant-based diet. And even for those who don’t, the high amounts of vitamin D in mushrooms step in to save the day!

Taking Maitake, Reishi, Lion’s mane, Turkey tail, and Cordyceps mushroom supplements will help sustain vitamin D2 levels. Pick mushroom supplements with 100% fruiting bodies so that no filler or grains interfere with your vitamin D intake.

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  1. Vitamin D Deficiency, (1) 
  2. Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans, (2) 
  3. A Review of Mushrooms as a Potential Source of Dietary Vitamin D, (3) 
  4. Bioavailability of vitamin D2 from UV-B-irradiated button mushrooms in healthy adults deficient in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D: a randomized controlled trial, (4) 
  5. Comparison of Ergosterol and Vitamin D2 in Mushrooms Agaricus bisporus and Cordyceps militaris Using Ultraviolet Irradiation Directly on Dry Powder or in Ethanol Suspension, (5)

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