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Vitamin D-fortified mushrooms available in Australia next year

December 6, 2010

Australia is on the brink of introducing Vitamin D fortified mushrooms to the local market. Growers who intend participating are meeting today. The mushrooms will probably go on shelves here early next year, an industry spokesperson told me today.

This is timely as The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has just released the results of its 24-month review on dietary reference intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D and calcium, which validates the importance of vitamin D as an essential nutrient for promoting bone health. The committee set the recommended intake level at 600 IU, which is triple the previously recommended amount from 1997. (1,2)

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From Cooking Down Under

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Leading vitamin D expert Michael F Holick, PhD, MD, of Boston University Medical Center, is encouraged by the committee’s increased recommendations because they’re a step in the right direction.

“The report acknowledges that everyone should be getting vitamin D every day – 600 IUs is achievable through diet and sun exposure, and people can work with their medical professionals to fulfill additional needs through supplements.”

Another easy option is to include more mushrooms in your diet. They are unique for being the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle and the exception to the rule that plant foods don’t naturally contain vitamin D.

Similar to humans, mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D following exposure to sunlight or a sunlamp: mushrooms’ plant sterol – ergosterol – converts to vitamin D when exposed to light.

All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability to increase D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them to flashes of ultraviolet light and this procedure has been practised in the United States for several years.

The Australian Mushroom Growers Association announced earlier this year that the local industry was preparing to adopt the new fortification technology. When the Vitamin D mushrooms are available they will offer an easy path to upping our Vitamin D levels. They can be added to soups, pastas, stir-fry dishes, omelets, salads and many other dishes and work across numerous styles of cuisine.

Mushrooms are Australia’s second-biggest vegetable crop and Australian annual per capita mushroom consumption is more than 3kg compared with only 0.6kg in 1974. This is higher than most other western countries.

References:

  1. IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2010. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC, National Academies Press.
  2. IOM (Institute of Medicine). 1997. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC, National Academy Press.

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