Last Updated on May 8, 2021 by James Matthews
In today’s supplement-inundated world, everyone is always looking for new substances to try. Whether it’s keto diets, light therapies, or protein stacks, there are a ton of products that can be beneficial for your health and wellness. However, some people would prefer to get away from all the synthetic and manufactured blends and get back to something natural.
Speaking of which, did you know that mushroom supplements have been quickly gaining popularity? Mushrooms have long been praised for their healthy nutritional profile and are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Incorporating mushrooms in your diet may also help reduce the risk of disease and protect your brain as you age.
Most mushroom supplements are probably made from species and strains that you haven’t heard of before, so that’s where we come in. We put together this comprehensive guide on the best mushroom supplements. We will cover some of the most potent mushroom species and pick out some of our favorite mushroom supplement blends.
Mushrooms are already very popular for their thick texture and savory flavor. They are often used as a common substitute for meat. Mushrooms also contain several beneficial nutrients. Mushrooms are a good source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, minerals and are low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Many people think that mushrooms are a type of plant, but mushrooms are actually a type of fungus and are neither plant nor animal.
Mushrooms contain a high nutritional profile relative to their total calorie content. They are also easy to grow and mushroom cultivation has a significantly lower environmental footprint than other kinds of agricultural practices. So not only are they good for you, but they are also good for the environment.
Common beneficial ingredients in mushrooms:
Antioxidants work to absorb and prevent damage from free radicals, which are highly reactive products of your body’s metabolism. Free radicals cause cell damage and are believed to be a major factor in symptoms of aging. Antioxidants can also improve your immune system functioning. Specifically, mushrooms are a potent source of selenium, an extremely important trace element that has antioxidant properties.
Mushrooms are also high sources of riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic, all of which are B vitamins. These vitamins protect the heart and improve red blood cell production. B vitamins are also good for energy and improve nervous system functioning. Several adults do not get enough B vitamins so mushroom supplements are a convenient way to incorporate them into your diet. B vitamins are a good way to get a burst of energy when you are feeling down.
Potassium is one of the most important minerals for your body and is involved in heart, muscle, and nerve function. Mushrooms are a higher source of potassium than bananas.
Beta-glucan is a type of dietary fiber that is strongly linked to improved cholesterol and improved heart health. Beta-glucan may also help regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Mushrooms and oysters are two very high sources of beta-glucan.
When you shop for mushroom supplements, see if you can find ones that are labeled “UVB.” This means that the mushrooms are grown under UVB sunlight and have high concentrations of vitamin D. Vitamin D is good for your bones and also improves muscle functioning.
Benefits & Side Effects of Mushroom Supplements
Mushroom and mushroom supplements have several therapeutic and medicinal benefits, including but not limited to:
- Low blood pressure
- Boosted immune system
- Lose weight
- Improve cognitive functioning
- Improve heart health
- Lower cholesterol
Mushrooms supplements may have some side effects though. The most commonly reported ones include nausea, heartburn, dry mouth, and upset stomach, all things that are common when you are not used to eating something like mushrooms.
How to Take Mushroom Supplements
Most of the time, mushroom supplements come in capsule form. The fungus is ground into a powder and sealed in a gelatin capsule that dissolves when you ingest it. This form makes taking mushroom supplements very convenient, though some people experience nausea when ingesting gel capsules.
Mushroom supplements also come in liquid and tea form, and you can buy mushroom powder to mix with your food and drink.
There is no official standard for mushroom supplement dosage. A general rule of thumb is that if you are taking mushroom supplements just for general health benefits, then you should take about 2-3 grams per serving and take about 1 serving per day.
Most Popular Types of Mushroom Supplements
There are several different types of mushroom supplements, some you may have heard of and some you may not have heard of. In general, the types of mushrooms used in these supplements are not the kinds that you find in the supermarket and commonly eat in food, like portobello mushrooms.
These mushrooms are very commonly used in Asia as a medicine and are used to promote sleep, reduce stress and inflammation, and relax. Reishi mushrooms have been used in Asia for centuries but they are gaining steam in the west. Reishi is sometimes called a soothing mushroom because it is primarily used for relaxation.
Most reishi supplements come in powder form. You can ingest the powder or mix it with good or drink. Reishi’s powder goes well with coffee due to its earthy flavor and it can also be a good way to get some fiber in your diet. These mushrooms contain high concentrations of important molecules such as triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans. Reishi mushrooms can also be bought and eaten fresh, but grinding them into powder form makes the nutrients more bioavailable.
Reishi mushrooms have some demonstrable benefits. They may boost the immune system and affect white blood cell functioning. Studies have shown that some kinds of reishi mushrooms may alter inflammation pathways in white blood cells and that reishi mushrooms might have anti-tumorigenic properties.
There is also a bit of evidence that reishi mushrooms can combat fatigue and depression. It is not clear whether reishi mushrooms have a direct impact on mental health or if any correlations are mediated by other mechanisms. There is also evidence that reishi mushrooms can help with blood sugar control, reduce antioxidant levels, and improve heart health by decreasing triglycerides.
Lion’s Mane mushrooms are small, ball-like mushrooms that have a fuzzy layer on top, that looks like a shaggy lion’s mane. This mushroom has been used in culinary applications in China, India, Korea, and Japan. Lion’s mane mushrooms can be eaten raw, cooked, or sliced and diced and eaten with anything. They are known for their earthy and savory taste.
Lion’s mane mushrooms have several potential therapeutic benefits. They may improve brain health and improve the brain’s ability to form new connections. Animal studies have demonstrated that these mushrooms contain hericenones and erinacines, both of which might stimulate the growth of brain cells.
Some animal studies have also shown that lion’s mane may improve hippocampal activity and improve memory functioning. Animal studies in mice also may speed nervous system recovery by stimulating nerve cell synthesis. Lion’s mane mushrooms may guard against ulcers in the digestive tract and can improve overall digestive activity by improving intestinal lining production. Several studies have shown that this mushroom can also prevent bacterial growth in the stomach and intestines.
Lastly, Lion‘s mane mushrooms also may boost the body’s immune system by improving the ratio of gut bacteria. Granted, most research with these mushrooms has been performed in animals so there is a need to do more research on humans to see if these beneficial properties transfer in a 1-to-1 ratio.
Chaga mushrooms are highly nutrient-dense and are commonly found in the northern hemisphere. These mushrooms are known for improving the immune system and for their juicy texture. Chaga mushrooms are soft and go down easily too. Chaga mushrooms are grown at higher altitudes so they get exposed to a lot of UV exposure. This means that Chaga mushrooms have a high concentration of vitamin D.
Chaga mushrooms have a very high nutritional content. They are a decent source of b vitamins, vitamin d, potassium, rubidium, cesium, amino acids, fiber, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, calcium, and more. This high nutrient profile is also chock full of antioxidants, which can reduce free radical damage and prevent symptoms of aging. Chaga mushrooms are also known to reduce the amount of low-density lipoproteins, the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol.
There is also some evidence that chaga mushrooms have anti-tumor properties. Studies have shown that chaga mushrooms can slow the growth of cancer tissues in vitro and that compounds in haga mushrooms can cause tumor cells to self-destruct. These properties of chaga mushrooms have not been studied extensively in human beings so more research on the subject is needed.
However, there is a decent amount of evidence that Chaga mushrooms can help fight inflammation by improving cytokine production. This may mean that chaga mushrooms may have a role in fighting autoimmune conditions.
Cordyceps mushrooms are a weird kind of parasitic fungus that actually eat bugs. These mushrooms take toot on insect larvae and then grow by sprouting long tendrils that spread through the insect’s body. In traditional Chinese medicine, these insects and fungi were collected and powered to serve as medicine. There are over 400 species of cordyceps mushrooms but 2 specific species are important for medicinal use: Sinensis and militaries.
One majorly studied beneficial effect of cordyceps is that they can improve exercise performance. Studies have demonstrated that cordyceps may increase ATP production by allowing your body to process oxygen more efficiently. Specifically, one study showed that 3 grams of cordyceps per day can improve max VO2 levels during exercise by nearly 7%. Another study showed cordyceps improve VO2 levels by nearly 11% in young adults, compared to placebo performance.
Cordyceps may also have anti-aging properties due to the presence of antioxidants that absorb free radicals and prevent cellular damage, along with its potential anti-tumor effects. They are also known for high adenosine levels which may improve heart health and liver health. Cordyceps have been shown to reduce cholesterol in mice and fight general inflammation around the body.
Like most of these studies, cordyceps have been studied extensively in animals and there is a need to study cordyceps in humans.
You have probably heard about shiitake mushrooms and have probably eaten some before. These mushrooms are popular all around the world and are a common ingredient in several dishes. These savory mushrooms are small and highly versatile, and can also be ground into powder-supplement form.
Shiitake mushrooms may have bioactive agents that fight against cancer and inflammation and may also improve immune system health. They have a very nutritionally dense profile and have a low calorie count per nutrient quality. A single serving of shiitake mushrooms contains nearly 30% of your daily copper, manganese, zinc, and niacin. Shiitake mushrooms also have a high protein and fiber content.
There is also evidence that shiitake mushrooms may improve heart health. They have eritadenine, sterols, and beta glucans, three compounds that are believed to balance cholesterol. Studies in mice have shown that shiitake mushrooms can reduce plaque levels in arteries and improve liver fat concentrations.
And like many types of mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms might have antitumor property. Shiitake mushrooms may reduce the formation of leukemia cells thanks to the presence of lentinan, a polysaccharide. Lentinan treatments are relatively common in China and Japan as supplementary anti-cancer therapies but lentinan use is not used in western countries.
Mushroom supplements are quickly becoming a popular form of health supplement. They are cheap, widely available, and mushrooms have been shown to be a generally good, low-calorie source of important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Mushroom supplements may have several benefits which is why they have become so widespread. Mushroom supplements are a quick and convenient way to get more nutrients in your diet and may improve aging symptoms, blood pressure, and other conditions.