Mushrooms stand out as the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recognizes them as the exception to the rule that plant foods don’t naturally contain vitamin D. Vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium, in addition to other recently identified roles of vitamin D (immune system regulator, reduce the severity & frequency of asthma symptoms & attacks, and reducing the risk for heart attacks and developing cancer). Vitamin D can be acquired from the diet, supplements and sunlight, which is why D is also referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”
Similar to humans, mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D following exposure to sunlight (UVB rays). Exposure of mushrooms to as little as five minutes of unfiltered sunlight can produce a significant quantity of vitamin D, demonstrating that this process could provide a significant, unique plant source of vitamin D for vegetarians and individuals who do not drink milk, the major fortified food source.
Enjoy mushrooms every day by simply adding them to soups, pastas, stir-fries, omelets, salads, or sandwiches; they work with nearly every cuisine.