Food For Healthy Bones

Irma Jennings - INHC - Holistic Bone Coach

5 Reasons Your Bones Love Mushrooms

February 27, 2014
Irma Jennings

Here are 5 reasons your bones love mushrooms.  Did you know there are more than 38,000 varieties of mushrooms in the world?  It’s pretty astounding.  Some are superfoods, some are medicinal, and some are deadly poisons.

But no matter what kind of mushrooms you eat (except the poison ones!) your bones will thank you.


Irma and Bone Building Mushrooms

My personal favorite is the shiitake.  In Asia, shiitakes are a symbol of longevity because of all their health benefits.  The Chinese have used them as medicine for more than 6,000 years.


1. Balance Your Acid

 Mushrooms are a great alkaline food.  And as you know, alkaline foods are what we need to balance our acid-heavy modern diets of processed foods and not enough vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables.  Acidic foods leach minerals like calcium from your bones.  So adding some mushrooms to a meal can help bring down the acid.

2. Copper

You don’t need much copper but it’s essential to healthy bones.  Copper helps produce collagen, a key fiber in building connective tissues, bones and joints.  And although a copper deficiency is rare, it can reduce your bone density.

All mushrooms are a good source of copper but shiitakes have the highest levels. One cup of cooked shiitakes contains about 65% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 900 mcg.

3. Zinc

Zinc is a superstar when it comes to building healthy bones.  It works two ways.  First, it stimulates production of osteoblasts that build new bone.  But it also slows down the action of osteoclasts that break down old bone.

The RDA for zinc is only 8 mg.  One cup of cooked shiitakes will give you almost 25% of that.  But as we get older our zinc levels decline.  This is especially true for women after menopause.

You might want to boost your zinc levels even more.  In a two-year study of postmenopausal women, those who got between 8 and 20 mg per day had healthier bones than women who got more than 8 or less than 20 mg.[i]

That goes for men, too.  A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found zinc levels were lowest in men with osteoporosis.[ii]

4. Selenium

Selenium deficiency may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.  It’s already been associated with osteopenia in animals.  In humans, it’s linked to osteoarthropathy (diseases of the bones and joints).[iii]

Many of us are deficient in selenium because this trace mineral is lacking in most US soils. Just one cup of shiitake mushrooms will give you a whopping 65% of your 55 mcg RDA.

5. Vitamin D

Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of ergosterol, a precursor to vitamin D.  And as you know, vitamin D is essential to steering calcium into your bones.

Ergosterols are especially abundant in shiitake mushrooms.  In fact, according to Annemarie Colbin, just one ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms contains 46% of the RDA of vitamin D for a 55 year old woman.

Put Mushrooms To Work For Your Bones

Next time you go to the store pick up some shiitake mushrooms.  Store them in the refrigerator in a loosely closed paper bag. They will keep fresh for about one week. Dried mushrooms will keep six months to a year in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

But don’t keep them that long.  Put them to work for your bones ASAP.  Try this great bone-building mushroom soup from my friend Vicki whose cooking talents are award winning.  It has a yummy smooth velvety texture but it’s completely dairy-free.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you enjoy it.  I think you’re going to love it!

Velvety Mushroom Soup

4 Servings


  • 4-5 cups of a variety of mushrooms (such as maitaki, shiitake, crimini, royal trumpets)
  • 4 tbsp organic olive oil or organic coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth – (I use organic bouillon cubes)
  • Juice of ½ to 1 lemon to taste
  • 1/4 cup sherry – I use Harvey’s Bristol Cream
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Clean and cut the mushrooms into smaller pieces (not too small)
  2. Sauté mushrooms and onions in the oil until nicely browned and mushrooms are cooked
  3. Place half the mushroom mixture in Vitamix or other heavy-duty blender.
  4. Add 1.5 cups of the vegetable broth and blend until creamy
  5. Return the blended mushroom mixture to the remaining unblended sautéed mushrooms and heat on the range top.
  6. Add the lemon juice and sherry.
  7. Add more vegetable broth to reach desired consistency
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Recipe from Vicki Sarnoff’s Intuitive Kitchen.

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For more information:


[i] Nielsen FH et al, Reported zinc, but not copper, intakes influence whole-body bone density, mineral content and T score responses to zinc and copper supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women. British Journal of Nutrition, 2011, Dec; Vol. 106, No. 12, 1872-9 Pubmed 21733304

[ii] Hyun TH et al, Zinc intakes and plasma concentrations in men with osteoporosis: the Rancho Bernardo Study.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):715-21. Pubmed 15321813

[iii] Regina Ebert, Franz Jakob, Selenium deficiency as a putative risk factor for osteoporosis.



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30 Essential Foods for Bone Health

From my bones to yours,
Irma Jennings, INHC
Your Holistic Bone Coach
[email protected]

30 Essential Foods for Bone Health
30 Essential Foods for Bone Health
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