Edible mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrients. Some of these nutrients contribute to the ability of mushrooms to stimulate the immune system. The first way that this occurs is through the presence of polysaccharides within certain mushrooms that may directly stimulate components of the immune system. The type of polysaccharides and their effects may vary between varieties of mushrooms, and certainly some mushrooms may be more immunostimulatory than others. Two varieties that have been researched for their immune stimulating effects include maitake and shiitake mushrooms. Another way that mushrooms can stimulate the immune system is through the presence of vitamin D. Mushrooms produce vitamin D, and when consumed, this vitamin D is absorbed and can contribute significantly to the upregulation of the immune system. Exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light can increase the vitamin D content and this may make such mushrooms more immunostimulatory.
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