Sunday, September 12, 2010

Much like humans, mushrooms generate vitamin D when exposed to sunlight

Food companies are beginning to capitalize on a little known capability of mushrooms: like humans, they synthesize vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet radiation like that in sunlight.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the body form and maintain healthy bones and teeth. More recent research has shown that it helps regulate the immune system, lowering the risk of infection, cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases. Yet as fear of skin cancer has grown and populations have become more sedentary, exposure to sunlight has dropped dramatically and vitamin D deficiency has surged.

"There's a better understanding of importance of vitamin D in human health," said Tara McHugh, a mushroom researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read more...

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