What to Look for When Buying Mushroom Supplements
Fifteen years ago, mushrooms for me were tough and earthy fungi that appeared during the rainy season. In recent years, functional mushrooms gained popularity due to their health benefits, leading to the emergence of a niche industry.
Now, mushroom-infused products can be found everywhere, and they have become the latest trend in the tech industry, akin to nootropics. However, the rapid growth of the mushroom startup space may not be entirely beneficial for consumers.
Unlike medications, the supplement industry lacks strict monitoring and regulation. Many mushroom entrepreneurs have emerged abruptly, driven not by the well-being of consumers, but by the desire to capitalize on the mushroom craze and make quick profits.
Some are willing to compromise quality to maximize their earnings. Therefore, it is up to consumers to distinguish reliable products from inferior ones.
Fortunately, consumers are not left without assistance. Allow us to help you by providing a brief buying guide for mushroom supplements. These tips will enable you to discover high-quality mushroom supplements that yield optimal results!
Determine if the Supplement Is Derived from Mushroom Fruiting Body or Mycelium
We don’t usually care about the type of plastic or components used in our iPhones and iPads or most of our electronics and furniture at home. However, when it comes to our supplements, it’s crucial to consider the ingredients, how they are grown, and how they are processed. If you haven’t given this much thought, it’s time to take it seriously.
Without delving too deeply into mushroom anatomy, let me highlight two important parts of fungi. The mycelium serves as the root that anchors the fungi to the ground, growing extensively and spreading wide. Above the ground, we have the fruiting body, which contains the majority of the mushroom’s nutrients.
Why is this knowledge important? Mycelium is relatively less nutritious and easier and cheaper to cultivate. Some supplement manufacturers use mushroom mycelium to cut costs and maximize profits.
On the other hand, the fruiting body of fungi contains higher levels of beneficial compounds such as beta-glucans.1 The fruiting body requires more time to fully mature and is more challenging to process, but the resulting product offers maximum benefits to the body.
Therefore, when searching for mushroom supplements, ensure that the ingredients are derived from the fruiting bodies. All Mush More Co products use 100% whole fruiting bodies!
Ensure Wood Is the Primary Substrate for Mushroom Cultivation
With a few exceptions, functional fungi are influenced by their environment as they absorb nutrients from the substrate and surroundings. Therefore, the nutritional content of functional mushrooms is dependent on their environment.
Affordable supplements derived from wild mushrooms are nearly impossible to produce. Commercial mushroom cultivators utilize various substrates to cultivate functional mushrooms. When choosing supplements, opt for those that use mushrooms grown on wood, as this closely resembles their natural growth.
Wood-grown mushrooms are believed to contain more beneficial compounds. Some individuals cultivate functional mushrooms on grain, resulting in less potent and effective ingredients.
Certain supplement brands use grain-grown mushrooms due to convenience and cost-effectiveness, seeking larger profits. This is especially true if this brand uses mycelium!
Therefore, it is important to select mushroom supplements that clearly indicate their growing method. However, this rule does not apply to all medicinal mushrooms.
For instance, wild cordyceps is a parasitic fungus that grows on caterpillars or other insects. If you prefer vegan cordyceps, look for those grown on a nutritious barley substrate.
Research the Extraction Process of the Ingredients
People turn to supplements because not all functional mushrooms are edible, and consuming healthy gourmet mushrooms daily is not always feasible. Moreover, our digestive system is not designed to effectively break down and process the mushroom cell walls, which contain glycoprotein, triterpenes, glucans, and other valuable compounds.
Fortunately, it is unnecessary to consume large quantities of mushrooms to obtain some of these compounds. Taking mushroom supplements provides an easier and more affordable means of benefiting from these bioactive compounds. These supplements contain only the beneficial elements extracted from medicinal fungi.
However, the extraction process is complex, labor-intensive, and costly. Some brands opt for partial extraction to reduce expenses, but this compromises the quality and quantity of the beneficial compounds in the supplement. Thus, it is essential to scrutinize the extraction method and extraction ratio before purchasing a supplement.
A higher extraction ratio signifies greater potency. For instance, a Chaga mushroom supplement with a 15:1 extraction ratio (i.e., 15 kilograms of raw chaga mushroom used to produce 1 kilogram of extract) is superior to a 1:1 ratio. The latter extract is cheaper due to its lower potency.
Additionally, it is advisable to choose supplements that undergo a double extraction process. Most bioactive compounds in mushrooms are either water-soluble (extracted using hot water; used mainly to extract polysaccharides) or alcohol-soluble (utilizing alcohol to extract fat-soluble compounds).
Brands that employ both water and alcohol methods ensure thorough extraction of all beneficial compounds from the mushrooms.
Seek the USDA Organic Label
The public is gradually recognizing the importance of our diet. Nowadays, people are not only mindful of what they eat but also of where and how their food is cultivated and processed. This level of scrutiny should extend to supplements, particularly mushrooms.
Why? As mentioned earlier, mushrooms are heavily influenced by their environment. The composition and potency of their bioactive compounds depend on the nutrients present in their surroundings. Due to their extensive mycelial network and permeable structure, mushrooms are highly responsive to their environment.
Consumers are increasingly shifting towards organic foods. This is because the excessive use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers is diminishing the potential health benefits of our food.
Commercial mushroom growers have started using fertilizers and pesticides to enhance production. Consequently, if you’re not cautious, the mushroom supplement you take may contain both beneficial bioactive compounds and harmful toxins. Mushrooms are sponges!
It is advisable to switch to organically grown mushrooms to fully reap the benefits of these functional fungi. How can you identify organic mushroom supplements? Look for the USDA Organic Label on the package or official website. All Mush More Co products are USDA Certified Organic.
The USDA organic label guarantees that the ingredients in the product were cultivated and processed without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. It also ensures that no chemicals or fumigants were used, and no prohibited substances were employed within three years prior to harvest.
Verify the Beta-Glucan Level Instead of Polysaccharides
Beta-glucans, polysaccharides found in various mushroom species, have undergone extensive research and have been discovered to possess numerous health-promoting properties. These functions include boosting immune system strength and enhancing heart health.
Beta-glucans acts as a soluble fiber and a powerful regulator of biological functions. It effectively reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, while also controlling the speed of food passage through the intestines. By regulating bowel movements, it induces a feeling of fullness, curbs appetite, and reduces food cravings.
Moreover, this soluble fiber slows down the absorption of glucose and cholesterol from the intestines into the bloodstream. Beta-glucans not only serve as excellent immunomodulators but also have the ability to upregulate or downregulate various biological functions.2,3,4,5 This remarkable compound contributes to internal stability and functional equilibrium, which are crucial for optimal health.
Therefore, for a mushroom supplement to be effective, it must have high levels of beta-glucans. Although mushrooms also contain other polysaccharides, they are not as beneficial as beta-glucans.
Some brands may list the polysaccharide levels and falsely advertise them as having high beta-glucan content. Supplements that emphasize polysaccharides while concealing beta-glucan levels usually have low levels of the latter.
Brands often hide beta-glucan levels when the mushroom ingredients are cultivated on grains and extracted from mycelium. When purchasing a supplement, ensure that it contains a significant amount of beta-glucans rather than just polysaccharides. Because we believe in transparency and authenticity, we list all of our third party lab results directly on our website, which shows the beta-glucan content for each product.
Assess Each Ingredient’s Potency
Health supplements are not regulated by the United States FDA, unlike medicines. Consequently, it is crucial to exercise caution regarding the ingredients and their quantities in these supplements. Being aware of the dosage and potency of ingredients is important for several reasons.
Firstly, it enables informed purchasing decisions based on individual nutritional needs. For instance, individuals seeking heightened mental and physical energy may require a higher potency of adenosine in Cordyceps, a mushroom supplement.
Secondly, understanding ingredient potency ensures safety and effectiveness. Insufficient amounts make the supplement ineffective, while excessive amounts increase the risk of side effects.
Additionally, knowledge of potency facilitates product comparisons. With a plethora of mushroom supplement options available, a clear understanding of ingredients and their potency helps in evaluating and comparing different formulations, leading to informed decision-making.
Although health supplements lack strict regulatory oversight, it is crucial for manufacturers to disclose ingredients and their potency on labels to promote transparency. This step enhances the brand’s credibility and instills customer confidence in the product.
Moreover, consumers have the right to accurate information about the products they consume, fostering transparency and accountability within the industry.
Seek Evidence of Third-Party Lab Testing
Consumers should trust supplement claims only if they are backed by evidence. Ethical and reliable supplement brands subject their formulas and products to third-party lab testing, some even conducting double testing to enhance credibility. To ensure quality and safety, it is important to seek proof of third-party testing from manufacturers.
Third-party testing serves as an unbiased evaluation of a supplement’s quality. It guarantees that the product contains the claimed ingredients and is free from contaminants, toxins, and heavy metals. This testing validates the manufacturer’s commitment to transparency and assures consumers of the supplement’s efficacy and safety.
Moreover, third-party testing plays a crucial role in the mushroom supplement industry by combating adulteration and fraudulent practices. It empowers consumers to make informed decisions by allowing them to compare and evaluate different supplements based on the results of third-party testing.
Di Tao vs. Made in USA
In Daoist herbalism, the concept of Di Tao emphasizes the significance of sourcing herbs from their spiritual homeland. It asserts that herbs obtained from different locations vary in terms of potency, effectiveness, and flavor. According to this concept, herbs from their spiritual homeland are influenced by factors such as climate, environment, spiritual energy, and the people involved. Hence, Di Tao herbs are of the highest purity and potency.
While the Di Tao concept appears logical at first glance, it cannot always be adhered to due to various medical and ethical reasons.
Many functional mushrooms, for instance, originate from South America, China, and other Asian countries. However, most commercial mushroom cultivators in these regions do not comply with organic farming practices, minimum wage laws, or proper manufacturing guidelines.
Conversely, products labeled “Made in USA” provide evidence of their potency, effectiveness, and adherence to minimum wage regulations and environmentally sustainable practices. Therefore, it is advisable to always look for the “Made in USA” label when purchasing supplements.
Technology provides comfort but compromises our health. Our path to improvement lies in reconnecting with nature. Rather than waiting for scientists to create a health elixir, we can turn to mushrooms, which nature has already bestowed upon us.
Just like any other product, the market offers both good and bad mushroom supplements. To ensure your well-being, it is crucial to learn how to select high-quality mushroom supplements like Mushie Organic Gummies.
Rest assured, by following the aforementioned guidelines, you can easily find the perfect mushroom supplement for your needs!
- Ma, Bing-Ji, et al. “Hericenones and Erinacines: Stimulators of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) Biosynthesis inHericium Erinaceus.”Mycology, vol. 1, no. 2, 2010, pp. 92–98, https://doi.org/10.1080/21501201003735556.
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- Bashir, Khawaja Muhammad Imran, and Jae-Suk Choi. “Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present, and Future.”International journal of molecular sciences 18,9 1906. 5 Sep. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18091906
- Novak, M, and V Vetvicka. “Glucans as biological response modifiers.”Endocrine, metabolic & immune disorders drug targets 9,1 (2009): 67-75. doi:10.2174/187153009787582423
- Asma Ashraf Khan a, et al. “Biological and Pharmaceutical Activities of Mushroom β-Glucan Discussed as a Potential Functional Food Ingredient.”Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, 27 Dec. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212619817300402