Mushrooms for vegan vitamin D
Work days during peak sun hours, living in the northern hemisphere, regular sunscreen application and lack of routine sun exposure all contribute to poor vitamin D stores, which could lead to vitamin D deficiency.1,2,3 Vegans are much more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency than those who eat animal products.1,2
If you don’t eat animal products and you can’t quit your 9-5 to start a new life on a sunny, tropical island selling hookah shell necklaces to tourists, how does one beat their vitamin D deficiency?
the secret behind vitamin d absorption
Vitamin D most commonly exists in two forms; D2 and D3. D2 can be found in many plants and D3 is found in animals and animal products IE eggs, meat, fish oils etc. D3 is the more common form found in most standard North American diets.4
Animals are able to convert D2 to D3. They eat plants that contain D2, and as their skin is exposed to sunlight, their body converts the D2 into D3. This is why animal products contain the form of vitamin D that can easily be utilized.4
Most people can’t absorb vitamin D2 very well in it’s common provitamin state, nor is there a large amount of it present in most bioavailable plant foods.4 However, we too, like animals can use the sun’s ultraviolet rays to synthesize vitamin D2, making it more absorbable. This conversion process of course leaves us with D3, which our body can use right away or it can be stored in our body to be used later, because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin!3
Unfortunately, vitamin D synthesizing abilities are extremely limited to those living in the northern hemisphere, during November to March.1 This is why even those who eat meat, are not immune to vitamin D deficiency.
This poses a major problem for those who have a plant-centric diet. Fortunately, there’s a solution! If you don’t eat animal products, can’t get enough sunlight to synthesize D2 and you’re looking for a considerable amount of bioavailable vitamin D, you should look at eating mushrooms.
mushrooms for vegan vitamin D
Due to the D2 absorption issues, there’s a common myth that usable vegan sources of vitamin D simply don’t exist. Well guess what science!?!? You’re wrong (sort of). It’s true that vitamin D2 can’t be used in the body without adequate sun exposure, but animals and humans aren’t the only ones that posses the ability to convert D2 into D3. Shiitake mushrooms have this power too!7 One study suggests that shiitake mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D2 and D3 in large amounts, when exposed to sunlight.7
When the shiitake gills are exposed to UV rays from the sun, they’re able to make the same vitamin D conversion as humans and animals.7 However this requires human intervention as the mushroom’s natural form ensure the gills are tucked away from the sun, because nature dislikes us and doesn’t want us to have these magical vitamins. Just kidding! Or maybe it’s true? Either way, for optimum results, shiitake mushrooms must be manually flipped upside down to ensure their gills are facing the the sun.1
So, plant-centric folks and mushroom lovers rejoice! Because there is a bioavailable, natural, plant-based source of vitamin D3.
More mushroom magic
Although research suggests shiitake mushrooms are the only variation capable of vitamin D synthesis, other ‘shrooms can’t convert their unabsorbable provitamin D2 to previtamin D2. The previtamin form allows humans to absorb, use and store the D vitamins with ease.7 It takes as little as 10-15 seconds of sun exposure on mushrooms to considerably multiply the amount of vitamin D2 present, as well as synthesize the provitamin form to previtamin.6,7 In one study, Portobello mushrooms had almost a 40% increase in vitamin D2 quantity after being exposed to UV light for as little as 10-15 seconds.6
Whether you’re vegan or not, dietary vitamin D is very important for bone strength because vitamin D controls calcium absorption and supports bone formation.1,3 It also promotes cell growth and some studies suggest it can even lower the risk of prostate cancer in men.3
Unless you’re eating tons of fresh, organic shiitake mushrooms that have been turned upside down to expose their gills to sunlight, it’s safe to say you need a quality, whole food vitamin D supplement that does the hard work for you, so you can gain the absorbable for of vitamin D2.
Our PureFood A to Z has 120% of your daily recommendation of vitamin D in a highly absorbable form, in every serving. Guess where we get our vitamin D from? Portobello mushrooms that have been flipped upside down to expose their gills to sunlight, so you get the previtamin form of D2 which is way more absorbable!
Our A to Z is a multivitamin blend, made up of 25 organic fruits, vegetables and superfoods. It contains various essential and nonessential vitamins and minerals that are needed daily to help keep your microbiome healthy, thus further enabling your stomach’s ability to absorb and use vitamins like, but not limited to, good ol’ vitamin D.6
Pro Tip: Whole food ingredient synergy is also super important when supplementing your diet. If you don’t know much about synergy, check out this blogpost to learn more.
Happy ‘shroom eating everyone!
For a quick way to get tons of whole food vitamin D in your diet, make our Wild Nutrition Elixir.
1 Mariotti, F. (2017) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention, page 319 paragraph 3. London, UK: Elsevier.
2 Mariotti, F. (2017) Vegetarian and plant based diets in health and disease prevention, page 542 paragraph 3. London, UK: Elsevier.
5 Jasinghe, V.J., Perera, C.O., Barlow, P.J., 2005. Bioavilabilty in irradiated mushrooms: an in vivo study. Br. J. Nutr. 93, 951-955