Vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium and helps to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body, ensuring strong and healthy bones. The body creates vitamin D when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight, and dietary sources include oils fish, red meats, fortified cereals, liver and eggs.

During the spring and summer months a balanced diet and plenty of time outdoors will provide ample vitamin D for the average person, however in the winter supplements may be needed. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults and put people at risk of bone fractures.

Mushrooms contain a pro-vitamin called ergosterol which is converted into vitamin D when exposed to UV radiation either before or after harvesting. Mushrooms retain at least 90% of their vitamins after storage and cooking, making them a useful source of vitamin D for vegans who won’t eat eggs, meat or liver.

There is a slight issue in relying on mushrooms as a source of dietary vitamin D. Commercially-grown mushrooms are almost always grown indoors in the dark to force rapid growth. This means there isn’t an opportunity to expose the mushrooms to the UV rays in sunlight and they will contain lower levels of vitamin D.

With this in mind some commercial mushroom growers have started producing vitamin D-enhanced mushrooms by exposing them to medium-pressure UV lamps after harvesting. These usually are labelled “UV-Treated” or “high in vitamin-D” and contain boosted levels of vitamin D.

Alpha-Purify is a market-leading manufacturer of medium-pressure UV lamps used in a wide range of commercial applications, including food production. We can provide commercial mushroom growers with UV lamps to boost vitamin D levels in their product as well as supply surface disinfection systems themselves. If you would like to find out more please contact Alpha-Purify’s Head of Global Sales Berenika Bond by emailing Berenika.bond@alpha-purify.com or calling +44 (0)1327 368 205.