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Originally published April 2 2009

Mushrooms Synthesize Vitamin D When Exposed to Ultraviolet Light

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Recent research suggests that like humans, some animals and certain species of algae, mushrooms may also be able to synthesize vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is synthesized by the body upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight. Synthesis of the vitamin does not appear to be possible in the absence of ultraviolet radiation. The vitamin D in the diet of fish, for example, ultimately comes from several varieties of shallow water algae that produce it from sunlight.

Mushrooms, however, contain 4 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D per serving, and early studies suggest that this can be increased to 100 percent simply by exposing the mushrooms to sunlight for just five minutes.

A further test of this phenomenon was recently conducted by researchers from Crosby House Surgery in England. In a case study, a single 30-year-old, vitamin D deficient Indian man was fed mushrooms that had been treated with ultraviolet-B radiation. After three months of eating the mushrooms daily, his blood vitamin D levels increased by 129 percent.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that functions as a hormone precursor and also plays a critical role in calcium absorption and bone health. Researchers have long known that deficiency can lead to bone deformities in children and adults, as well as increasing adults' risk of osteoporosis and fractures. New research suggests, however, the vitamin D deficiency may also increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Many studies suggest, however, that nearly 50 percent of people in the United States may be vitamin D deficient.

Doctors recommend that light-skinned people get 15 minutes of sun on the face and hands per day to ensure sufficient vitamin D levels; more exposure might be needed during the winter for those living far from the equator. People with darker skin need correspondingly more exposure.

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