Field Notes

Mushrooms Provide as Much Vitamin D as Supplements

Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine have discovered that eating mushrooms containing vitamin D2 can be as effective at increasing and maintaining vitamin D levels as taking supplemental vitamin D2 or D3. The findings recently were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and will appear in Dermato-Endocrinology.

Vitamin D is crucial for good bone health and muscle strength; adequate amounts help the body maintain bone density, reducing the risk of fracture, osteomalacia, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. The nutrient also plays an integral role in modulating the immune system to help fight infections such as the flu and reduces the risk of many common diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and diabetes.

For the randomized study, 30 healthy adults took capsules containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D2, 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, or 2,000 IU of mushroom powder containing vitamin D2 once per day for 12 weeks during the winter.

Baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], a measure to determine a person’s vitamin D status, weren’t significantly different among the groups. The levels among the three groups gradually increased and plateaued at seven weeks and were maintained for the next five weeks. After 12 weeks of the vitamin D supplements, the levels weren’t statistically significantly different than those who ingested the mushroom powder.

“These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet [UV] light and contain vitamin D2 are a good source of vitamin D that can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults,” said Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, principal investigator. “Furthermore, we found that ingesting mushrooms containing vitamin D2 was as effective in raising and maintaining a healthy adult’s vitamin D status as ingesting a supplement that contained either vitamin D2 or vitamin D3.

 “These results confirm other studies that have demonstrated that ingesting vitamin D2 either from fortified orange juice, a supplement, or a pharmaceutical formulation were all capable of increasing total circulating 25(OH)D concentrations for at least three months and up to six years,” he added.

According to Holick and his coauthors, ingesting mushrooms containing vitamin D2 can be an effective strategy to enhance vitamin D status. “The observation that some mushrooms, when exposed to UVB light, also produce vitamin D3 and vitamin D4 can also provide the consumer with at least two additional vitamin Ds,” Holick said.

In a second poster presentation at the same meeting, the researchers reported how mushrooms make vitamin D2 using a process similar to what occurs in human skin after sun exposure.

“Although it has been previously reported that mushrooms have the ability to produce both vitamin D2 and vitamin D4, through our own research, we were able to detect several types of vitamin Ds and provitamin Ds in mushroom samples, including vitamin D3, which is also made in human skin,” Holick noted.

According to the researchers, the meeting presentations as well as the published study demonstrate that mushrooms are another good natural food source for vitamin D that can easily be found in one’s local grocery store.

Funding for this research was provided in part by the Mushroom Council.

— Source: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Dietitian Says, for Many, Juicing Trend Is ‘Pulp Fiction’

Fueled by a $5 billion dollar industry that continues to grow 5% to 8% annually, juicing is being promoted by many as a useful strategy for weight loss. But the trend of extracting the liquid from produce isn’t widely recommended within the medical and surgical weight-loss community.

“Juicing in general reduces the fiber content and therefore decreases the feeling of fullness gained by eating fresh, crisp fruits and vegetables,” says Ashley Barrient, MEd, LPC, RD, LDN, a dietitian at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care who specializes in working with weight-loss patients. “Patients who consume whole fruit and vegetables report greater fullness and overall satisfaction with their diet.”

For those who have undergone surgical weight loss, juicing can pose many risks. “The concentrated sugar and caloric content of juice can result in dumping syndrome, which includes diarrhea, rapid pulse, cold sweats, nausea, and uncomfortable abdominal fullness,” Barrient says.

The sugar and calorie content of juice is much greater than the sugar content of whole fruit and vegetables, and it takes several pieces of produce to make an average-sized portion. “Most of the patients in the Loyola program incorporate whole fruit back into their diet one to two months following surgery,” she reports. “Appropriately portioned fruit, meaning a half-banana or 1/2 cup of berries, is digested well by surgical weight-loss patients.”

The concentrated sugar and caloric content of juicing also discourages weight loss postsurgery and increases the risk of future weight regain.

“Aim for a diet rich in lean protein and dairy, fruits and vegetables, and ensure adequate water intake,” Barrient says. She also emphasizes the importance of supplementing the diet with the required vitamins and minerals for a lifetime following weight-loss surgery.

“The most successful diets are those that can be sustained,” she says. “For most people, juicing is a trend, and trends do not last.”

— Source: Loyola University Health System