Mushroom Nutrition and Vitamin D

It always was a bit of amystery why I bought mushrooms all the time. Now I know.  The surprise is thatmushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin C of all things and theadditional item makes clear it includes some other elements of greatvalue.  It may well contain a number ofother complex organics that are also beneficial.

We also learn about a fifthbasic taste that is sufficiently not part of our lexicon that we must importJapanese word for it.

It says something whenevolution saw fit to make us sensitive o that special taste in particular.

The good news is that wenow can eat a variety of mushrooms today and know that they provide a lot ofuseful minerals and other ingredients.

I wonder what umami doesfor us?

Released: 12/2/2010 

Newswise — TheInstitute of Medicine (IOM) recently released the results of its 24-monthreview on dietary reference intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D and calcium, whichvalidated the importance of vitamin D as an essential nutrient for promotingbone health. The committee set the recommended intake level at 600 IU, which istriple the previously recommended amount from 1997. 1,2 Mushrooms are unique for being the onlysource of vitamin D in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified foodsources. In fact, the IOM recognizes them as the exception to the rule thatplant foods don’t naturally contain vitamin D.

Leading vitamin Dexpert Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, of Boston University Medical Center,is encouraged by the committee’s increased recommendations because they’re astep in the right direction. “The report acknowledges that everyone should begetting vitamin D every day – 600 IUs is achievable through diet and sunexposure, and people can work with their medical professionals to fulfilladditional needs through supplements.”

Chef and registereddietitian Jackie Newgent, RD, CDN, suggests easy ways to eat foods with vitaminD, like mushrooms, salmon and select dairy foods, more often.

 “Topping your favorite foods with mushroomscan increase the vitamin D content of nearly any savory dish,” says Newgent. “Ican find a way to enjoy mushrooms every day by simply adding them to soups,pastas, stir-fries, omelets or sandwiches; they work with nearly everycuisine,” she adds. Try some of Newgent’s favorite mushroom recipes:

Tip O’ the Mornin’, asparagus tip and mushroomomelet with shaved parmesan 

Wild Winter Mushroom Pâté, cumin-accented wildmushroom spread

Homemade Veggie Burgers, vegetarian soyburgers

Mushrooms and Vitamin D

• Similar to humans, mushrooms naturally produce vitamin D following exposureto sunlight or a sunlamp: mushrooms’ plant sterol – ergosterol – converts tovitamin D when exposed to light.

• All mushrooms contain vitamin D, but growers also have the ability toincrease D levels in mushrooms to a controlled amount by exposing them toultraviolet light.

• Currently there are mushrooms available at retail, like portabellas exposedto light, for which approximately one mushroom can provide close to 400 IU ofvitamin D (as listed in the USDA nutrient database, per an 84 gram serving).

1 IOM (Institute of Medicine).2010. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington,DC, National Academies Press.
2 IOM (Institute of Medicine). 1997. Dietary ReferenceIntakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC, National Academy Press.

Media Contact:
Michelle Green

About The Mushroom Council:

The Mushroom Council is composed of fresh market producers or importers whoaverage more than 500,000 pounds of mushrooms produced or imported annually.The mushroom program is authorized by the Mushroom Promotion, Research andConsumer Information Act of 1990 and is administered by the Mushroom Councilunder the supervision of the Agricultural Marketing Service. Research andpromotion programs help to expand, maintain and develop markets for individualagricultural commodities in the United States and abroad. These industry self-helpprograms are requested and funded by the industry groups that they serve. Formore information on the Mushroom Council, visit


For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ healthbenefits1. Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many ofthe nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonlyfound in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free,cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide several nutrients,including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Read onto discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms.

Nutrient Composition

The focus on the nutritional value of brightly colored fruits andvegetables has unintentionally left mushrooms in the dark. Mushrooms provide anumber of nutrients:

·                     Mushroomsare a good source of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, andpantothenic acid, which help to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fatsand carbohydrates2. B vitamins also play an important role in thenervous system.
o                              Pantothenic acid helps with the production of hormonesand also plays an important role in the nervous system2.
o                              Riboflavin helps maintain healthy red blood cells2.
o                              Niacin promotes healthy skin and makes sure thedigestive and nervous systems function properly2.
·                     Mushroomsare also a source of important minerals:
o                              Selenium is a mineral that works as anantioxidant to protect body cells from damage that might lead to heart disease,some cancers and other diseases of aging2. It also has been found tobe important for the immune system and fertility in men3. Many foodsof animal origin and grains are good sources of selenium, but mushrooms areamong the richest sources of selenium in the produce aisle and provide 8-22 mcgper serving4. This is good news for vegetarians, whose sources ofselenium are limited.
o                              Ergothioneine is a naturally occurring antioxidantthat also may help protect the body’s cells. Mushrooms provide 2.8-4.9 mg ofergothioneine per serving of white, portabella or crimini mushrooms5.
o                              Copper helps make red blood cells, which carryoxygen throughout the body. Copper also helps keep bones and nerves healthy2.
o                              Potassium is an important mineral many people donot get enough of. It aids in the maintenance of normal fluid and mineralbalance, which helps control blood pressure. It also plays a role in makingsure nerves and muscles, including the heart, function properly2.Mushrooms have 98-376 mg of potassium per 84 gram serving, which is 3-11percent of the Daily Value4.
·                     Beta-glucans, found in numerous mushroom species, haveshown marked immunity-stimulating effects, contribute to resistance againstallergies and may also participate in physiological processes related to themetabolism of fats and sugars in the human body. The beta-glucans contained inoyster, shiitake and split gill mushrooms are considered to be the mosteffective6.
Read research about the nutrient composition of mushrooms here.


Mushrooms provide a powerhouse of nutrients that may help protectagainst some cancers. Scientists at City of Hope were some of the first to find apotential link between mushrooms and a decreased likelihood of tumor growth anddevelopment in cells and animals. City of Hoperesearchers now plan to apply this research to human clinical trials toestablish whether mushrooms act as aromatase inhibitors in women. It is far tooearly to conclusively say whether humans will experience decreased tumor growthas a result of eating mushrooms. However, City of Hope and the Mushroom Council one day hope tobe able to share credible science-based information that ties mushroom intakewith decreased cancer risk, along with other important health benefits.

Read more about research that investigates mushrooms and cancer here.

Antioxidants andImmunity

Mushrooms are the leading source of the essential antioxidant seleniumin the produce aisle. Antioxidants, like selenium, protect body cells fromdamage that might lead to chronic diseases. They help to strengthen the immunesystem, as well2. In addition, mushrooms provide ergothioneine, anaturally occurring antioxidant that may help protect the body’s cells.
Learn more about research that ties mushrooms to supporting a healthyimmune system here.


Mushrooms are hearty and filling. Preliminary research suggestsincreasing intake of low-energy-density foods (meaning few calories given thevolume of food), specifically mushrooms, in place of high-energy-density foods,like lean ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing daily energy andfat intake while still feeling full and satiated after the meal7.

Read about weight management/satiety research here.

Umami and Sodium

Umami is the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour.Derived from the Japanese word umai, meaning “delicious,” umami (pronouncedoo-MAH-mee) is described as a savory, brothy, rich or meaty taste sensation.It’s a satisfying sense of deep, complete flavor, balancing savory flavors andfull-bodied taste with distinctive qualities of aroma and mouthfeel8.The more umami present in food, the more flavorful it will be. All mushroomsare a rich source of umami and the darker the mushroom the more umami itcontains. Therefore, mushrooms are a perfect way to add great taste to everydayfoods. Umami also counterbalances saltiness and allows up to a 50 percent saltreduction without compromising flavor.

Learn more about umami and sodium research here.

Vitamin D

Mushrooms are the only fresh vegetable or fruit with vitamin D.Similar to the way that humans absorb sunlight and convert it to vitamin D,mushrooms contain a plant sterol—ergosterol—that converts to vitamin D whenexposed to sunlight. The top three selling mushroom varieties (button, criminiand portabella) have vitamin D ranging from 1 to 97 percent of the Daily Value(400 IU) per raw 84 gram serving4.

Read on to learn about vitamin D research here.

Other Benefits

Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of thenutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found inmeat, beans or grains4. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free,cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide several nutrientsthat are typically found in animal foods or grains4,9.

Learn more about the functional properties of mushrooms and theirpotential role in lipid management through various research studies linked here.
1Change R. Functional Properties of EdibleMushrooms. NutritionReviews. 1996; 54:91-93
2Duyff, R. American Dietetic Association’s CompleteFood and Nutrition Guide. Third Addition. Wiley & Sons. NJ. 2006.
3National Institutes of Health. Medline Plus.
4U.S. Department of Agriculture, AgriculturalResearch Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2009. USDA National NutrientDatabase for Standard Reference, Release
5Dubost, N.J., et al. (2006). Identification andquantification of ergothioneine in cultivated mushrooms by liquidchromatography-mass spectroscopy. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms,8, 215-22.
6Rop, O., Mlcek, J., & Jurikova, T. (2009). Beta-glucans in higher fungiand their health effects.Nutrition Reviews, 67, 624-631.
7Cheskin LJ, Davis LM, Lipsky LM, Mitola AH, LycanT, Mitchell V, Mickle B, Adkins E. Lack of energy compensation over 4 days whenwhite button mushrooms are substituted for beef. Appetite. 2008:51;50-57.
8Kasabian, D., & Kasabian, A. (2005). The Fifth Taste:Cooking with Umami. New York: UniversePublishing.
9U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Center for FoodSafety & Applied Nutrition. A Food Labeling Guide. September, 1994(Editorial revisions, June, 1999)

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