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Why You Don't Need to Take a Vitamin D Supplement Ever Again

Tim Boyer's picture
Vitamin D Sumpplement

Research presented this week at the American Society for Biochemistry and Microbiology annual meeting in Boston, and to be published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology, reveals that taking manufactured vitamin D supplements from a pill bottle is not really necessary for good health. Rather, their data shows that getting your vitamin D from mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light provides just as much bioactive vitamin D as a pill and costs mush less.

Vitamin D is perhaps one of the most controversial supplements discussed online and in health magazines with a focus on not only what ailments vitamin D protects the body from, but how you get your vitamin and what doses are effective.

Needed to ensure good bone and muscle health―particularly in post-menopausal women at risk for osteoporosis―vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients advertised on TV, health websites and in magazines. Aside from bone health, vitamin D is recommended for fighting coronary and heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, infection and even belly fat! Recommended sources of vitamin D include supplements, sunlight and certain foods.

In the vitamin D study presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Microbiology annual meeting, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine focused on comparing vitamin D levels in the blood of study participants who took a natural mushroom powder to those who took a commercial vitamin D supplement that is typically sold on grocery and pharmacy shelves.

Thirty healthy adults were randomly selected to receive capsules once a day for 12 weeks during the winter containing either 2,000 IU of vitamin D2, 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 or 2,000 IU of a mushroom powder isolated from mushrooms that had been exposed to UV light before processing into its powdered form. Earlier studies have shown that when picked mushrooms are exposed to UV light for only a few minutes that a biochemical compound called “ergosterol” found in the mushrooms is converted into Vitamin D―as much as 164 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams of mushrooms according to one study.

What the researchers found was that the blood levels of vitamin D in all 3 groups gradually increased and reached a plateau at 7 weeks that remained for the following 5 weeks. Furthermore, the vitamin D2 levels were statistically no different whether a study participant took a vitamin D supplement or the powdered mushroom form.

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"These results provide evidence that ingesting mushrooms which have been exposed to ultraviolet light and contain vitamin D2, are a good source of vitamin D that can improve the vitamin D status of healthy adults,” says Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, the principal investigator of the study. “Furthermore we found 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 3 months, and up to 6 years.”

Additional research performed by the authors showed that the process in how mushrooms produce vitamin D2 is similar to what occurs in human skin during sun exposure. Plus, they also revealed data that showed that mushrooms not only produce vitamin D2, but can also produce vitamins D3 and D4.

"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," said Holick.

The results of their research demonstrate that amount of vitamin D from a natural source such as UV light-treated mushrooms can be just as high as that from a commercial supplement. Other studies have shown that eating mushrooms offers other health benefits as well such as in providing selenium and anti-oxidants, boosting the immune system, and in promoting weight loss and reducing belly fat.

For more information about replacing supplements with natural foods, click on this Dr. Oz reported article titled "Skip Your Supplements If You Eat Your Vitamins Instead Recommends Dr. Oz."

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference:"Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans"Dermato-Endocrinology Volume 5 Issue 1; Raphael-John H. Keegan, Zhiren Lu, Jaimee M. Bogusz, Jennifer E. Williams, and Michael F. Holick.

This page is updated on May 13, 2013.