Research commissioned by the UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers has found that mushrooms are often overlooked as a source of vitamin D. The vitamin helps to strengthen the immune system, making it particularly important during the flu season and the current pandemic.
Vitamin D is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and is also present in some animal foods. But it can be challenging for plant-based eaters to get enough during the winter.
Plant-based eating has risen significantly in the UK since the pandemic began, and the new research found that 13 percent of British people are concerned about getting enough vitamin D over the colder months.
Mushrooms are the only non-fortified vegan food that contains vitamin D, as they contain a compound called ergosterol that is converted into the vitamin when exposed to the sun’s rays. They can even continue to produce vitamin D after being harvested, and eating eight mushrooms a day may be enough to meet the recommended daily intake for the vitamin.
A miracle ingredient
Mushrooms are rapidly gaining a reputation as a miracle ingredient, being used to produce everything from vegan leather and bacon to functional ingredients. They have also been voted one of the most popular meat substitutes, with many consumers seeking out more natural alternatives to mock meats made with isolated soy protein.
“Mushrooms are easily overlooked in the fruit and veg rainbow we’re advised to eat,” nutritionist Rob Hobson told The Voice. “They are commonly overlooked as a significant source of the sunshine Vitamin D.”