Mushrooms provide critical Vitamin D – Agri-View

People who eat just three special mushrooms grown in the Republic of Ireland consume 100 percent of their daily Vitamin D recommendation.

The mushrooms, produced by Monaghan Mushrooms in Tyholland, County Monaghan, and retailed by Marks & Spencer, have been enhanced with Vitamin D2 by a new process. Marks & Spencer says it is the only retailer in the United Kingdom to offer Vitamin D-boosted mushrooms, and that it has sold a whopping 500,000 packs of them. According to the retailer, almost 50 percent of growth in its mushroom category has come from Vitamin D mushrooms alone since their launch in late 2014.

Geoff Taylor, product manager at Monaghan Mushrooms, said, “We’ve known for a long time that mushrooms are a food for the future; they’re low in calories yet rich in potassium, B vitamins and folate.

“Knowing that a lack of vitamin D in the UK is a major health issue, we started working toward developing a vitamin D mushroom. New research shows that in the UK we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, meaning dietary vitamin D is absolutely needed.

“The longer mushrooms are out in the sunlight the more vitamin D they contain; however they don’t need sunlight to grow. Our mushrooms are grown inside houses where they are exposed to a high-wattage light for a few seconds. The bulb, which contains wavelengths of light including (ultraviolet), acts like the sun and through a natural process the mushrooms make vitamin D, just like wild outdoor-grown mushrooms.

“We are delighted that we have now sold half a million packs in just a year and a half. To give you an idea of how many mushrooms that is, if we laid out all the packs end-to-end they’d reach from Central London to Brighton with 15 miles left over.

“Customers have reacted very positively to Vitamin D mushrooms and we look forward to continuing this partnership with (Marks & Spencer).”

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the deficiency isn’t limited to the United Kingdom. A large part of the population in the United States also suffers from it.

“Mounting evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency could be linked to several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the institute states.

The institute conducted a study to examine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

“The overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency was 41.6 percent, with the highest rate seen in blacks at 82.1 percent, followed by Hispanics at 69.2 percent,” the study concluded. “Vitamin D deficiency was significantly more common among those who had no college education, were obese, with a poor health status, hypertension, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, or not consuming milk daily. In summary, vitamin D deficiency was common in the U.S. population, especially among blacks and Hispanics. Given that vitamin D deficiency is linked to some of the important risk factors of leading causes of death in the United States, it is important that health professionals are aware of this connection and offer dietary and other intervention strategies to correct vitamin D deficiency, especially in minority groups.”

Helen Seward, Marks & Spencer company nutritionist, said, “Vitamin D mushrooms taste just like regular brown mushrooms, but come with added benefits.

“We know from UK dietary surveys that vitamin D levels are low across most of the population – this bone-healthy vitamin has long been associated with a number of other conditions such as heart health, diabetes and cognitive function.

“Just three Vitamin D mushrooms provide your daily amount of vitamin D, which would be the same as one whole fillet of salmon or five bowls of fortified breakfast cereal.”

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