Commercial mushroom production can expose mushrooms post-harvest to UV light for purposes of vitamin D2 enrichment by converting the naturally occurring provitamin D2 (ergosterol). The objectives of the present study were to artificially simulate solar UV-B doses occurring naturally in Central Europe and to investigate vitamin D2 and vitamin D4 production in sliced Agaricus bisporus (button mushrooms) and to analyse and compare the agaritine content of naturally and artificially UV-irradiated mushrooms. Agaritine was measured for safety aspects even though there is no rationale for a link between UV light exposure and agaritine content. The artificial UV-B dose of 0.53 J/cm(2) raised the vitamin D2 content to significantly (P < 0.001) higher levels of 67.1 ± 9.9 μg/g dry weight (DW) than sun exposure (3.9 ± 0.8 μg/g dry DW). We observed a positive correlation between vitamin D4 and vitamin D2 production (r(2) = 0.96, P < 0.001) after artificial UV irradiation, with vitamin D4 levels ranging from 0 to 20.9 μg/g DW. The agaritine content varied widely but remained within normal ranges in all samples. Irrespective of the irradiation source, agaritine dropped dramatically in conjunction with all UV-B doses both artificial and natural solar, probably due to its known instability. The biological action of vitamin D from UV-exposed mushrooms reflects the activity of these two major vitamin D analogues (D2, D4). Vitamin D4 should be analysed and agaritine disregarded in future studies of UV-exposed mushrooms.
Keywords: Agaricus bisporus; Agaritine; Mushroom; Sunlight; UV-B; Vitamin D2; Vitamin D4.