Jan 29, 2024

There’s “mush-room” for aged care menus to up vitamin D intake through Funghi

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Up to 80% of female and 70% of male aged care residents in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia are vitamin D deficient. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

  • Vitamin D is crucial for immunity and bone health, especially for those living in aged care who may not be outdoors enough to get adequate vitamin D through the sun and other sources
  • Three UV-exposed cup mushrooms can fulfil an older person’s entire daily vitamin D requirements
  • One in four Australian adults are vitamin D deficient and older people are at even greater risk of deficiency, making UV-exposed mushrooms a problem-solving ingredient to incorporate into aged care menus
  • Mushrooms are part of the Fungi kingdom and have a unique set of nutrients and unique bioactive compounds that are beneficial for health

Did you know mushrooms are the only natural non-animal source of vitamin D?

As a quarter of Aussies battle vitamin D deficiency – with up to 80% of female and 70% of male aged care residents in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia found to be deficient – the Shoreline Luxury Retirement Living in Coffs Harbour is trialling a new mushroom-packed menu to improve these numbers.

Partnering with FOODiQ Global and Australian Mushrooms, the trio of organisations have begun a first-time research study called “Mushrooms on the Menu”  to improve vitamin D levels for residents by making simple alterations to their menu. 

How will they do it?

The study will explore the impact and feasibility of incorporating a specially crafted chef and dietitian-designed mushroom-based menu in the Shoreline residential aged care centre.

It will monitor the menu’s impact on the nutritional intake of residents and their overall enjoyment of the menu. Nutritional analysis will be done before, during and after the phase of increased mushroom consumption. 

Participants will be provided with chef and dietitian-crafted meals and meal plans containing at least 75g of vitamin D-enriched mushrooms per person each day for 28 days. 

Independent living residents will also be supplied with a punnet of mushrooms each week and a recipe booklet so they can consume the recommended daily mushroom servings throughout the program.

The mushrooms being used in the study are the Agaricus Bisporus variety, also known as cup mushrooms, the same ones found in supermarkets across Australia. The cup mushrooms will already be exposed to sunlight to maximise vitamin D content before they are provided to residents.

Food as medicine

Chief Executive Officer of FOODiQ Global, Doctor Flávia Fayet-Moore, explains that boosting aged care residents’ mushroom intake could potentially solve a serious nutritional issue in aged care facilities with a ‘Food as Medicine’ approach. 

“Mushrooms have a unique umami and meaty taste profile, making it an excellent ingredient to ‘blend’ with minced meat to boost nutrient intake in a population at high risk of nutrient inadequacies,” she explained.

Tammie Breneger, Director of Care at The Shoreline, said they were thrilled to be part of this partnership and study. 

She said, “We’re glad we can offer our 150 residents helpful nutrition solutions to optimise health and well-being.”

“Eating well is so important and vitamin D deficiency is an issue amongst adults that needs to be addressed, so we’re looking forward to seeing the results of increased vitamin D intake.” 

Last week, residents were treated to a fun information and tasting session where the first taste of the menu was said to have been well received.

The Shoreline Mushrooms on the Menu study is part of a three-year research project with FOODiQ Global managed by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association and funded by Hort Innovation using the mushroom research and development levy funds from the Australian Government.

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