It’s no secret that vitamins are important for good health. Now, new research has found that Vitamin D in particular may help in fighting COVID-19.
As reported recently in the Boston Herald, Dr. Hollick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, found that “a sufficient amount of vitamin D can cut the risk of catching coronavirus by 54%.” His study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, compared blood samples from 19,000 people in the U.S. Those with deficient levels of Vitamin D in their blood were 54% more likely to have COVID-positive tests than those who have enough Vitamin D.
So, how do you get enough of this important vitamin into your system? It’s not easy. Dr. Hollick says most foods contain little or no Vitamin D. One source of Vitamin D is from sunlight, but that’s in short supply over the long winter months. As a result, many people are deficient in Vitamin D and don’t know it.
Which brings us to mushrooms and Pulsed Light. Mushrooms are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D, but at best they provide only a small percentage of what our bodies need. Further, what we buy in the grocery store usually comes from a commercial indoor grower. Since indoor mushrooms are grown without natural sunlight, they have almost zero vitamin D content.
That all changes when you add Pulsed Light to the process. When exposed to a brief burst of high-energy Pulsed Light, mushrooms generate greatly increased vitamin D content: just 100g of mushrooms can have up to 100% or more of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). By comparison, even outdoor-grown mushrooms usually only contain about 10% RDA or less in every 100g.
On top of that, Pulsed Light has been shown to increase the shelf-life of mushrooms and other foods by up to 50%, because it deactivates or kills pathogens that lead to early spoilage.
Use of Pulsed Light for food enhancement is FDA-approved, and food processing companies are taking note. Many have installed Pulsed Light systems right on their conveyor lines, resulting in enhanced nutritional value without slowing down production. And in the UK, a company called JenAct has collaborated with XENON to develop a specialized Pulsed Light system for just this purpose.
The public is taking note, too. Consumption of mushrooms has been increasing steadily over the years, including in fresh produce, canned mushrooms, powdered mushroom, and even vitamin supplements. For example, mushrooms are the second most popular pizza topping, next to pepperoni. Who knew pizza could be so healthy?
Vitamin D is not a cure for COVID-19 of course, but the research on its benefits is promising. Brigham & Women’s Hospital has announced a study of its own to investigate whether Vitamin D can lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
Mushrooms have long been known to improve bone health and reduce the risk of various cancers and diabetes, among other benefits. Now, with a boost from Pulsed Light, we can add the ability to fight COVID-19 to the benefits of the mighty mushroom.
To learn more about processing mushrooms with Pulsed Light, you can read our application sheet here or check out this 2020 article in Fresh Produce magazine.