Research of Vitamin D

We aim to develop a mushroom growing technology that will multiply vitamin D levels in grown mushrooms. These mushrooms and the resulting finished and semi-finished products are unique and could be vital in terms of health promotion in the food market. The focus of the project will be on developing mushroom products with a high level of biologically active vitamin D. According to previous research, under ultraviolet light with a defined wavelength and energy, a number of grown mushrooms are capable of synthesizing 3-5 times higher levels of vitamin D2 due to the high level of ergosterol present in fungal cell membranes.

We aim to:
–  Define which grown mushroom species contain the highest levels of vitamin D2.
–  Examine the wavelength (UV-A, UV-B, UV-C) and the required duration of ultraviolet radiation that will result in the highest level of vitamin D, and at the same time will not detrimentally affect the quality and storage life of the product. Under the modified growing
conditions, we plan to determine the required dose (J/cm2) and intensity (mW/cm2) of ultraviolet light that results in the highest possible vitamin D concentration.
–  Determine the most effective distance and irradiation method of the UV treatment.
–  Develop a device that executes the task of irradiation automatically, without endangering its operator(s).
–  Examine the effect of UV radiation on the harmful activities of pathogen microorganisms, in order to improve chemical-free mushroom growing technologies.
–  Conduct experiments on the assessment of the post-harvest application of irradiation.
–  Conduct analytical research into the post-harvest period to determine the modification of vitamin D concentration during storage and refrigeration. We will examine if any harmful products are generated by the treatment or if it affects the mushroom?s gastronomic and dietetic value (e.g. the structure of proteins, amino acid compounds etc.)

We propose the following business utilization of the project results:
–  Acquire patent rights to the project results.
–  Launch the production of champignons enriched with vitamin D in our facility in Ócsa.
–  Develop a branded product family (both fresh-market and processed) of the mushrooms.

We are confident in stating that the continuing growth of a health-conscious lifestyle and diet creates a stable market for our product not only in welfare societies but in Hungary, too. We predict the long-term stability and annual expansion of production as more and more people become vegetarian and avoiddirect sunlight. These two factors will mean that consumers will have to supplement vitamin D. Health-conscious consumers will prefer food as a natural vitamin D source to synthetic pills. The gastronomic and biological values of these products will help to cut back cancer morbidity in society. Recent clinical studies have shown that the likelihood of the appearance of the most common cancer types in Hungary is increased by vitamin D deficiency, while the same decreases survival chances by patients. Cedric F. Garland, a professor at the University of California, has demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in the development of breast cancer, colonic cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.

As far as we know there are no growing experiments in Hungary or in other countries of the Union. However, one can frequently find publications by Norwegian researchers on the subject. Experiments are being conducted in the USA, where the research team of the renowned PennState University issues results of their laboratory experiments.
Our enterprise may well be competitive on the mushroom market following the end of the project. Sooner or later the great mushroom growing countries will have their own technology and start to produce mushrooms enriched with vitamin D. A successful R&D project could support the mushroom sector in becoming a market leader in the CEE region.