Improving vitamin D intake in aged care

Monday, 22 January, 2024

Improving vitamin D intake in aged care

FOODiQ Global and Australian Mushrooms have partnered with The Shoreline Luxury Retirement Living in Coffs Harbour to embark on a research study focused on enhancing vitamin D and overall nutrient intake among aged care residents. The study, titled Mushrooms on the Menu, explores the impact of incorporating a specially crafted chef and dietitian-designed mushroom-based menu in the Shoreline residential aged care centre. The study will investigate the feasibility of adding vitamin D-rich mushrooms to the menu and their impact on nutritional intakes of the aged care facility residents.

Vitamin D deficiency is prominent in Australia and seniors are at greater risk. Mushrooms could be a solution to this as they are claimed to be the only natural and non-animal source of vitamin D.

Dr Flávia Fayet-Moore, FOODiQ Global CEO, said mushrooms have a unique set of nutrients found across different food groups, including vegetables, grains, nuts and meats, as well as their own unique bioactive compounds.

“Research shows that many residents in aged care facilities have insufficient vitamin D. By simply including UV-exposed mushrooms in aged care menus, it could boost their vitamin D intake and potentially solve a serious nutritional issue in aged care facilities with a ‘Food as Medicine’ approach.”

Tammie Breneger, Director of Care at The Shoreline, said, “We’re glad we can offer our 150 residents helpful nutrition solutions to optimise health and wellbeing. 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.”

Shoreline residents will be provided with chef and dietitian-crafted meals and meal plans containing at least 75 g of vitamin D-enriched mushrooms per person each day for 28 days, with nutritional analysis done before, during and after the phase of increase mushroom consumption. 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.

Participating residents are aged 65+. According to the research, 80% of women and 70% of men in this group have been found to be vitamin D deficient, which is associated with higher risk of falls.

The mushrooms used in the study are the Agaricus bisporus variety, or cup mushrooms. The cup mushrooms will already be exposed with sunlight to maximise vitamin D content before they are provided to residents.

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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