Sleep is a luxury in the Engelbrecht household these days. With a 2-year-old toddler who doesn’t always grant us a full night’s sleep and unpredictable hormones causing havoc with insomnia, I’ve been at my whit’s end, searching for natural ways to improve my and my family’s resting time. That’s pretty much how mushrooms came into the picture. And, no, not the ‘medicinal’ kind. The fungi we so often enjoy in a sauce, with bacon and eggs or in a vegetarian dish.
Did you know that mushrooms are one of the few food items that contain vitamin D? It is also known as the sunshine vitamin, as the sun is the ultimate vitamin D producer.
According to the Mushroom Council and the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (SAMFA), it was the sun’s UV rays and the way it triggers vitamin D production that encouraged mushroom farmers to look into exposing mushrooms to UV light during the growing process. This evidently resulted in a higher vitamin D content in mushrooms, with different mushroom varieties containing different levels of the so-called sunshine vitamin.
Crimini and portabella, for instance, contain higher levels of the plant sterol, ergosterol which is converted to vitamin D when exposed to UV light. This in turn results in a higher vitamin D content for these specific types of mushrooms.
But what does this have to do with sleep?
According to an article on Business Insider, research has shown that there is a direct link between vitamin D levels and your sleeping quality and quantity. Being vitamin D deficient could cause all kinds of sleep issues, including sleep disruption, insomnia and poor sleep quality overall.
Dr Greg Burrell, the co-founder and VP of clinical product at Carbon Health told Business Insider that a deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with many changes in sleep such as fewer sleeping hours, and sleep that is less restful and restorative. “It has also been linked with increased inflammation of the nose and tonsils, which can lead to sleep apnea and disturbed sleep.”
Studies regarding the link between vitamin D and sleep disorders are ongoing and the relationship between vitamin D levels and sleep is still unclear.
Still, it can’t do any harm to add some additional vitamin D through your diet and this can easily be done through a higher intake of mushrooms.
Did you know?
Mushrooms are the ideal source of vitamin D, especially in a plant-based diet. Several speciality mushrooms pack in a full day’s recommended allowance of vitamin D in one serving.
Apart from improving sleep, vitamin D is known for its important role in building and maintaining strong bones by helping the body to absorb calcium. A deficiency in vitamin D can therefore cause rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.