What are “mushroom supplements”?
Mushroom supplements are available in powder, liquid and capsule form. Our mushroom supplements are available in capsule form. They are extracts of specific mushrooms that contain a high concentration of certain types of polysaccharides - beta-glucans.
Mushrooms also contain minerals, folate, niacin, and vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, and E. Mushrooms are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D. All mushroom supplements contain beta-glucans. They all have an enzyme called aromatase and also contain a lectin compound.
What is the difference between powders and extracts?
Powder: Powders can consist of just the fruiting body of the mushroom cut off at the base or the entire mushroom stripped of its substrate (although with certain mushroom species that have small fruiting bodies, the entire substrate may be included). All ingredients of the mushroom, as well as the fibers of the mushroom, remain relatively unchanged, as the drying process takes place at moderate temperatures (below 40°C). Because more components of the mushroom survive in this processing, the powders have a broader spectrum of activity which is not as useful when taken to achieve a specific effect. However, they do retain almost all of their nutrients – this makes powders more useful for people who want to ingest mushrooms for nutritional reasons, such as vegans who want a good source of protein and B vitamins in their diet. However, caution should be exercised when consuming powders of certain mushrooms, as the drying process may leave higher levels of certain toxins that would not be harmful in low doses, but may become harmful or potentially accumulating in larger amounts. However, this only applies to a few subgroups of mushrooms, usually the rarer and the more expensive, such as the Cordyceps Sinensis (not to be confused with the fully edible Cordyceps Militaris) and powders made from more common and edible varieties, but that should not be a cause for concern are.
Extract: The main appeal and benefits of extracts are two, namely: better control over which elements remain in the final product and very high yields of Beta-Glucans. Beta-Glucans can be up to 15 times more concentrated, depending on the mushroom species, in extracts compared to powders. This is due to the prolonged heating of extracts, which, depending on the heating method and the mushroom, elutes certain substances (particularly beta-glucans) from the cellular matrix, making them much more readily available and absorbable through digestion. Although specific ingredients (including many vitamins and minerals) are lost through this varied processing procedure, the main goal is for others, such as fungal polysaccharides, to become highly concentrated instead, along with any other constituents of the mushroom that may have potential benefits. This also means that extracts are usually dosed lower than powders because their elements are so highly concentrated by comparison. Extracts can also be safer to take (as long as the extract is done properly, so make sure the extracts you take are from a reputable/trustworthy source) than powders, as many cytotoxic compounds, along with other mild toxins that certain mushrooms can usually be eliminated and/or destroyed during processing.
Another important reason you may prefer an extract over a powder is that extracts contain fewer impurities, which is important if you choose to take mushroom supplements for a particular effect, adaptogenic or not.
In general, extracts are better than powders when it comes to taking mushroom supplements for certain desired effects because powders often contain too little of the compound readily available for your metabolism to absorb easily. This is especially true if you want to take mushroom supplements for the express purpose of getting as much fungal beta-glucans as possible. Powders are best used if you follow a mainly plant-based diet, as they add nutrients that are harder to get from other fruits and vegetables. Of course, you can get the benefits of both by taking supplements that contain both a blend of extracts and powders, which is actually something done by a large number of manufacturers.
Extracts also contain many new antioxidants compared to powders, which help counteract the negative effects of oxidative stress (the main cause of increasing cell aging).
What are “beta-glucans”?
Beta-glucans are complex sugars (polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of various unicellular and multicellular organisms, such as fungi, yeasts, algae and cereal grains. Although beta-glucans are found in all of these sources, their physicochemical properties vary widely depending on the source. Normally, beta-glucans, such as those found in grains, help lower cholesterol by binding to them in the digestive tract. However, beta-glucans found in fungi cause a different effect when ingested due to the aberrant short branching structure in chemistry. They are insoluble in water, unlike the kind obtained from grains, and are therefore mostly metabolized by the body. This is an important difference, as there is some evidence that when metabolized by the body, they boost the immune system by increasing the reaction time of macrophages and their alertness.
Beta-glucans themselves do not fight disease. Instead, these compounds are able to stimulate or activate the other cells responsible for immunity.
When beta-glucans enter the body, they mimic an invader and are taken in hand by "macrophages", innate immune cells that swallow the beta-glucans and carry them to the lymph nodes. There they are broken down into smaller pieces. The fragments are then released and bind to “natural killer cells” (and other immune cells), essentially “preparing” them to reach and respond to pathogens much more quickly.
A kind of Trojan Horse, but good for you!
If you want to maximize the amount of beta-glucans you take in, then you definitely want an extract. As previously described, extracts contain up to 15 times more beta-glucans than powders and are much more absorbable because they are no longer bound to the rest of the mushroom.