Mushrooms have been used by cultures around the world for centuries, in food, medicine and mystic rituals alike.
But a new trend has emerged, far from the food and fun of fancy truffles and dubious ‘magic mushrooms’ – mushroom supplements!
These supplements are made from a wide variety of mushrooms and vary greatly in their effects and availability, leaving many searching for the best mushroom supplements.
Although most people’s knowledge of mushrooms is limited to pre-packaged portobellos in the supermarket, these fungi-based supplements may have some remarkable health benefits. Mushroom supplements are multiplying like, well, mushrooms, and the range of products is almost as big as the list of mushroom species used for medicinal purposes.
Mushrooms are widely considered a healthy food because they contain antioxidants, B vitamins and other essential nutrients, all of which can be found in the best mushroom supplements. But what are mushroom supplements good for, and are they the right supplement to help improve your health?
In this article, we’ll be looking into the uses, benefits and drawbacks of mushrooms, digging up the dirt on these fungi.
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Often eaten raw, cooked, or brewed in tea, mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, lending a lot of historical weight to the benefits of mushroom supplements. Depending on the mushroom used, these supplements are reported to offer a wide variety of benefits, from boosting your energy, reducing cell damage, and even helping prevent cancer in some cases.
Now that you know to look for trustworthy, potent supplements, that use quality mushrooms (and not just cheap mycelium), it’s time to move on to some of our recommendations. We searched high and low to find the best mushroom supplements for a variety of needs, so here are 4 natural options reviewed:
If you’re new to mushroom supplements, this blend is a great starting point: Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Blend Powder contains ten powerful mushrooms, including shiitake, reishi, and lion’s mane in a vegan, gluten-free organic mix you can stir into coffee or smoothies.
Verdict: Although our testers weren’t fans of ‘mushroom lattes’ and the blend means you lose out on specific benefits, the price point and immune-supporting benefits make this a great entry point or everyday supplement.
Wallet-friendly, no-nonsense cordyceps capsules: Packed with 750mg of cordyceps per capsule, these capsules do rely on cheaper mycelium, but there’s enough content to give you a beta-glucan boost and it’s hard to nit-pick at these prices, even though they may not be the best mushroom supplements.
Verdict: the cellulose capsules are easy to swallow, and the price is appealing, though the filler mycelium may not offer the same benefits as the fruiting body of Cordyceps.
Powdered mushrooms with added palate cleansers: This blend of 6 powerful mushrooms with added green tea extract and ginger is organic, vegan, gluten-free and begging to go into a green smoothie.
Verdict: The added green tea, ginger and flavourings are enough to convince the more mushroom-phobic tasters to try it in a smoothie, making this potent blend a good option for those who like to taste their healthy foods.
Formulated for immune support and easy to take: Although this blend by New Chapter uses mycelium as well as fruiting bodies, the organic formulation is packed full of mushroom content, and like the best mushroom supplements, boasts immune-supporting effects.
Verdict: The capsules were easy to swallow, we like that the mushrooms are US-grown (cutting down on travel, pollution, etc.) and our testers didn’t notice any side effects (such as nausea), so these are great for general immune support benefits.
One of the most widely publicised benefits attributed to mushroom supplements is their immune system support, as many supplements have strong restorative properties. In addition to immune-boosting effects mushroom supplements offer a wide variety of other health benefits, so we’ve created this short list of mushroom types to help you choose the best mushroom supplements for your needs:
Mainly found growing on the bark of birch tress in colder climates, chaga (also known as cinder conk and black mass) resembles tree bark with soft orange flesh. Chaga was traditionally grated and brewed as an herbal tea and offers a variety of health benefits, such as:
Native to hot and humid climates across Asia, reishi mushrooms have seen widespread use in Eastern Traditional Medicine, with scientific studies supporting its powerful health benefits. A strong contender for the award of best mushroom supplements, reishi’s health benefits include:
Commonly called turkey tail due to its colourful, striped appearance and curved shape, these mushrooms commonly grow on tree trunks and offer a variety of health benefits. Long revered for their immune-boosting benefits, turkey tail mushrooms are:
Widely used in cooking for their rich, savory taste, shiitake mushrooms are as delicious as they are healthy, being an essential ingredient in many Asian dishes. In terms of taste, these are easily one of the best mushroom supplements with plenty of health benefits in addition to their versatility in cooking, such as:
Lion’s mane mushrooms (also known as hou tou gu or yamabushitake) are large, shaggy mushrooms that are said to resemble a lion’s mane as they grow, hence the name. Popular for culinary and medicinal use, they are said to taste “seafood-like” and contain many beneficial substances which are believed to:
Cordyceps are one of the most unique mushroom types on this list, as many species are parasitic and use insects to spread their spores through a gruesome infection process. Thankfully, humans are immune to this parasitising process and can benefit from the many health-boosting effects of cordyceps supplements which earn this fungus a space on this list of the best mushroom supplements, such as:
Because of the wide variety of mushrooms and mushroom supplements, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement on the safety of all mushroom supplements. However, since the best mushroom supplements are made from whole mushrooms, like the ones listed above, they are generally safe to consume.
However, some users report minor side effects from mushroom supplements, so you should consult your doctor to see if these supplements are right for you and seek medical attention if you notice:
You can’t go wrong with mushrooms, whether you fry them up, boil them for tea or take them as supplements – they are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals which offer diverse health benefits. Although nutritional benefits may vary depending on the type of mushroom, the best mushroom supplements are packed full of beneficial compounds including:
Just like any other supplement, the main benefits of mushroom supplements come from the bioactive compounds the fungi contain, such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vitamins, to name a few. The best mushroom supplements are rich in these bioactive compounds which support your body’s natural processes and provide a wide variety of health benefits.
Mushroom supplements are available in powder, liquid, and capsule forms, which means that there’s a convenient way to take these supplements no matter how hectic your lifestyle. Because all the commercially-available mushroom supplements are designed to be taken orally, they work by releasing their active ingredients – such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – in your stomach and gut.
Because mushroom supplements generally have high levels of bioavailability (compared to other types of supplements), they can technically be taken at any time of the day. However, you should consider the effects of each type of mushroom when choosing the best mushroom supplements, as some mushrooms are better to take at certain times than others – for example:
People with sensitive stomachs may want to take their mushroom supplements with food to prevent nausea.
Mycelium refers to the sterile, vegetative part of a fungus which lack the nutrients and active ingredients you want from a mushroom supplement. Typically used to imitate or ‘pad out’ the mushroom content of supplements, mycelium can be quickly and cheaply grown in lab conditions but won’t give you the boost you need, so avoid any supplements that contain mycelium.
Concentrated mushroom extracts are generally superior to mushroom powders, containing greater amounts of active ingredients which provide more powerful benefits. Whether the mushrooms are treated with a water or alcohol solution, these extracts are some of the best mushroom supplements, as they are more potent and more bioavailable than whole mushrooms.
The medicinal compounds of mushrooms are what provide their extraordinary health benefits, so you should look out for supplements that list and quantify their active ingredients. The main active compounds in mushrooms are antioxidants, beta glucan, B vitamins, copper and potassium, so keep an eye out for supplements with lots of those and you should find an effective supplement in no time.
While there are plenty of quality products on the market, having so many manufacturers vying to make the best mushroom supplements is bound to create some imitators. Because there are plenty of supermarkets and independent companies trying to get those fungi funds, we recommend you pass over Whole Foods Mushroom Supplements or make sure to read the label closely for the quality ingredients listed above.
We’ve come a long way since the days of brewing mushroom tea for medicine, so why not treat yourself to a convenient and potent mushroom supplement in capsule form? Capsule or pill-based supplements are much more convenient than fresh, dried or powdered shrooms and offer all the same benefits, so unless you’re really passionate about your trendy mushroom coffee, we suggest you leave the extracting to the scientists.
All in all, mushroom supplements are safe to use and offer serious health benefits, making them highly desirable for people looking to boost their overall health or address specific issues like mental decline or immune-compromising conditions. But as with any supplement, you should consult your doctor to make sure these supplements won’t interfere with any other medication or cause side effects, as well as buying from trustworthy suppliers, preferably ones that are NSF or USP certified.
We hope this article has helped dig up the dirt on these fungi as well as giving you the guidance you need to find the best mushroom supplements for your needs.
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