When you bring home mushrooms from the supermarket, you probably put them straight in the fridge to keep them fresh. But now a nutritionist is urging us all to forgo cooling off in our mushrooms, at least initially, in favour of leaving them in a sunny spot on the windowsill – and it’s all in the name of vitamin D.
Lily Soutter, a nutritionist who is working with The Mushroom Bureau to educate the nation on the health benefits of the vegetable, says that vitamin D is crucial for our wellbeing at all times of year, and mushrooms are a great, easy way to boost your levels.
‘Vitamin D is a vital component to support our immune system and has a wealth of other benefits that help us care for our overall health too,’ she explains.
‘Having similar skin to that of humans, mushrooms naturally contain provitamin D and once in contact with the sun, they absorb vitamin D almost instantly, boosting their vitamin D content naturally.’
‘Whilst enriched mushrooms will naturally come with a greater vitamin D content, you can easily add a natural dose of vitamin D to the regular British or Irish mushrooms by simply placing them on a windowsill when the sun is at its strongest between 10am and 3pm for around 15-20 minutes.’
Lily adds that mushrooms are particularly good for vegan diets, as they’re one of the best meat-free options that you can source vitamin D from naturally.
Recent reports indicate that indicate that as many as 1 in 5 of us are deficient in vitamin D – a status which is associated with a higher risk of poor musculoskeletal health such as rickets, osteomalacia, falls and poor muscle strength.
Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors, and the NHS advises that from early April to the end of September, we usually get all that we need from sunlight.
However, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, with many of us spending much more time indoors than usual, changes to our diets, such as incorporating sun-soaked mushrooms, could prove particularly useful.
Vitamin D is also available from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, red meat and eggs, and is added to some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, you could also consider the option of a supplement – there’s more advice on choosing the right supplement for you here.