Mushroom supplements are becoming some of the most popular and beneficial supplements on the market today. While most people try to avoid mushrooms in their daily diet, these supplements make consuming mushrooms easy — and delicious!
Before you get freaked out, mushroom supplements — the good ones — find a way around that mushroom taste and texture most people can’t stand. This is good news because mushrooms are extremely nutritious and come with a wide range of other benefits.
If you’re someone who can’t be near mushrooms, listen up because you’re about to have your mind blown. Not only are most people unaware of how powerful mushrooms are for the body, but they have no idea these supplements exist.
We’re going to break down everything you need to know about mushroom supplements, including what they are, why they’re so special, which types of mushrooms are most powerful, and which are the best mushroom supplements.
What Are Mushroom Supplements?
We all know what mushrooms are. They can be found all over the world and grow on top of soil, trees, logs, and other wood sources. Despite their benefits, many people give mushrooms a bad rep due to the fact that they’re a type of fungi.
Much like any other plant or animal, there is a wide range of species of mushrooms — over 2,000 to be exact. While some species will be poisonous to eat, they only make up about 70-80 of the species. With that being said, a strong majority of the mushrooms you see every day are completely safe.
Most people in the United States are familiar with portobello mushrooms and button mushrooms, but there’s a new type of mushroom making its way into the US — functional mushrooms. There are about 15 species of mushrooms that fall into this category, and they are known as some of the most special mushrooms on the planet.
A majority of the mushroom supplements you see today will make use of one or more of these functional mushrooms. Let’s learn a little bit more about these types of mushrooms.
Why Are Functional Mushrooms So Special?
Functional mushrooms come with a variety of — you guessed it — functional benefits in the body. Functional foods are those that contain benefits beyond the nutrients they provide — whether it be protein, vitamins, or minerals.
Typically found in China, Japan, and throughout Europe, functional mushrooms are known to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — effectively strengthening the immune system. It’s one of the major differences between functional mushrooms and the everyday mushrooms we’re used to.
In addition to that, functional mushrooms are known to increase energy levels, improve digestion, and boost skin health with the variety of polysaccharides, polyphenols, beta-glucens, probiotics, and prebiotics they provide the body with.
Lastly, each functional mushroom — whether it be Chaga, Shiitake, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, or any of the other species — will come with its own specific benefits. Some help to relieve stress, while others boost your cognitive performance.
How Can You Incorporate “Magic Mushrooms” Into Your Diet?
Before you get excited or freaked out, functional mushrooms aren’t that type of “magic mushroom.” They won’t make you hallucinate or damage the body.
The good news is they are extremely easy to add to your diet. If you’re someone who loves the taste and texture, they make great companions to your cooking dishes. On the other hand, functional mushroom supplements are starting to take over the market.
One of the biggest misconceptions about functional mushroom supplements is that they taste like your typical mushroom. While this might turn some supplement-lovers off, most of these supplements will hide the taste and mask it with something more neutral — like a chocolate flavor.
In fact, some supplements today combine functional mushrooms with a hot chocolate formula, while others add it to their coffee blend. Powdered formulas allow you to virtually add functional mushrooms to any beverage, while capsules make it even easier to utilize.
What Should You Look For In Mushroom Supplements?
There are several things consumers should know about mushroom supplements before purchasing one. First and foremost, you should speak with your doctor if you’re currently being treated for a health concern, are pregnant, or are lactating.
Outside of that, functional mushrooms can be used by pretty much anyone — unless allergic. If you’re interested in looking for a quality mushroom supplement, you should be aware of the source.
Many companies make their supplements with mycelium, otherwise known as the vegetative growth of the mushroom. It will generally consist of long branches found underneath the soil and look a lot like roots. Unfortunately, this source of functional mushrooms is unreliable and won’t contain all the benefits described above.
Instead, you’ll want a supplement that utilizes the fruiting body of the mushroom — the part of the mushroom we use in cooking.
Outside of that, it’s important functional mushroom supplements are extracted. If the entire mushroom is used whole, it will be less effective. You should also be wary of a supplement that doesn’t give information about where the mushrooms were grown, how they were grown, and what types of testing it went through. This information is important and could affect how well the supplement works.
Do Any Ingredients Mix Well With Functional Mushrooms?
If you’re looking to get the most out of your functional mushroom supplement, there is a wide range of ingredients you can combine with them to increase the effectiveness.
Nootropics are going to be some of the go-to ingredients here. Lion’s Mane Mushroom, one type of functional mushroom, is actually considered a nootropic ingredient. Ingredients that work well are ones that improve focus, memory, mood, and brain health.
Adaptogens are another hot ingredient here. These are simple ingredients that help the body adapt, manage, and move past stress and anxiety. Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Bacopa Monnieri are some to watch out for in mushroom supplements.
Outside of that, anything with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, probiotics, or prebiotics makes a good addition. These will help your immune and digestive system.
Most Popular Functional Mushrooms
To summarize what we’ve learned from above, functional mushrooms are much different than the mushrooms we typically use or see in the United States. They provide the body with a wide range of benefits outside the nutrients, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and adaptogenic properties.
Of the over 2,000 species of mushrooms, 15 of them fall into the functional category. Below, we’ll discuss the most popular functional mushrooms found in supplements today — including Reishi, Chaga, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Enokitake, Oyster, Tremella, and Agaricus Blazei.
Let’s get started!
The reishi mushroom thrives in warmer climates throughout Asia, Southern Europe, the South Pacific, and the Southeastern US. They’re typically found on hardwoods, such as oak trees and hemlock trees.
In addition to providing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, the reishi mushroom is most-known for fighting fatigue and depression. This was especially seen in those suffering from neurasthenia or cancer. Reishi mushrooms can also promote a healthy heart and maintain blood sugar levels.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Fatigue, Depression
While mushrooms are typically found in soil or on trees/logs, the cordyceps mushroom is grown on the backs of larvae — yes, you heard that right. There are hundreds of cordyceps species, but the Cordyceps sinensis and Cordyceps militaris have become the most popular.
Generally found in dense forests and Asia, cordyceps mushrooms are most known for helping the body increase ATP levels — the energy molecule. It can also prevent cancer, slow the aging process, support the immune system, and promote a healthy heart.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Energy
Lion’s mane mushrooms have easily become one of the most popular species of functional mushrooms. They resemble a balled-up icicle and can be found on trees that are decaying. You’ll typically find Lion’s Mane mushrooms in the Northern US and Canada.
Outside of the nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidants, Lion’s Mane mushrooms are one of the best cognitive-boosting mushrooms available. It’ll improve memory, recall, and information processing, while also relieving anxiety and depression.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Brain Power, Mood
The chaga mushroom is generally found in the northern hemisphere, thriving in colder climates like Russia, North China, and Canada. As far as appearance goes, they are mostly brown with orange tissue. At first glance, it might look like a pile of dirt.
Chaga mushrooms are known to be nutrient-dense (vitamins, minerals, amino acids), but they can also help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, slow the aging process, and provide your immune system with a boost.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System
Although turkey tail mushrooms are mostly found on tree stumps and fallen down logs, they can also be seen on living trees. For this reason, they are popular in dense forests and can even be found throughout North America.
With powerful antioxidants and a large amount of polysaccharopeptides, turkey tail mushrooms are great for the immune system. In addition to that, they contain prebiotics that support your gut bacteria and provide fuel for the probiotics found throughout the digestive tract.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Digestion
Mostly found in China on hackberry trees, enoki mushrooms can also grow on ash trees, mulberry trees, and persimmon trees. They have very unique features that look more like a flower, but with a small mushroom at the tip instead of petals.
Enoki mushrooms do a lot for your immune system and digestive tract. They are packed with antioxidants, contain lineolic acid (depletes gut fat), increase the production of insulin, and amino acids that can help your cognitive performance.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Digestion
Maitake mushrooms love to grow in dense, old forests. You’ll typically find them at the base of oak trees, but they are also found on elm trees and maple trees. Some people throughout Europe and North America call it the “hen of the woods” due to its feathery appearance. It also goes by the nickname “Dancing Mushroom” in Asia.
The maitake mushroom is packed with powerful antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial to the immune system. Many people in Asia would eat the mushroom in-between meals to decrease stomach sensitivity.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Digestion
A majority of the mushrooms on this list are uncommon in the Western diet, but the Shiitake mushroom is one most people will recognize. It’s even been adopted as a phrase to avoid cursing when saying, “Holy shiitake!”
You can find shiitake mushrooms worldwide, usually grown on decaying trees, but Japan is where a majority of these mushrooms are found. In addition to the boost they provide your immune system, they are known to contain all nine essential amino acids — making it a complete protein source.
Shiitake mushrooms are also the only natural plant source that contains Vitamin D, can improve blood circulation throughout the body, and help your skin.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Skin
Oyster mushrooms grow best in sub-tropical climates and are mostly found on decaying trees and logs — especially beech trees and aspen trees. They come in a variety of types, including King Oyster, Pink Oyster, Phoenix Oyster, Golden Oyster, Pearl Oyster, and Blue Oyster.
Packed with antioxidants and beta-glucens, oyster mushrooms are great for a healthy immune system. They also help to regulate cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, build strong bones, hold anti-inflammatory properties, and can help prevent oxidative stress.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Brain Health
If you’re looking for a beautiful mushroom that looks nothing like a mushroom you’ve ever seen before, enter the tremella mushroom. It looks more like a balled-up jellyfish with its glowing essence and is largely found in tropical climates — like the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
The tremella mushroom is another species that’s great for the skin, due to the large amount of polysachharides. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and holds anti-inflammatory properties, effectively boosting the immune system. In addition to that, it contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Skin
Largely found throughout China, Japan, and Brazil, the agaricus blazei mushroom have more of a knob-like top to them. They provide a wide range of benefits to your blood, which including preventing hardening of the arteries, preventing bloodstream disorders, and lowering cholesterol.
Of course, you’ll also get all the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that functional mushrooms provide.
Uses: Nutrients, Immune System, Healthy Blood
Best Mushroom Supplements
By now, we know enough about functional mushrooms that it should be a no-brainer finding a way to add them to your daily diet. As these supplements become more popular, we are seeing a variety of brands and companies try their luck in the industry.
If you’re interested in functional mushroom supplements, we’ve detailed below a list of our favorites that utilize the functional mushrooms from above.
Four Sigmatic Blends
Four Sigmatic is one of the leaders in functional mushroom supplements. They are led by Tero Isokaupilla, a mushroom-lover that learned the art of foraging functional mushrooms in his homeland of Finland. Created in 2012, Four Sigmatic has made it extremely easy for Westerners to add these powerful mushrooms to their daily diet.
In fact, we love this company so much that we can’t select just one of their products. If you’re interested in adding mushrooms to your diet without the taste, texture, or sight of them, check out their entire product line.
Their products include Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix, and Four Sigmatic 10 Mushroom Blend, as well as others. They have powdered formulas that you add to your beverage, coffee blends for your morning cup of joe, hot chocolate brews, protein powders, skincare products, coffee pods, face masks, and energy shots. Seriously, they have it all and utilize virtually all the mushrooms described above.
Naturealm Sacred 7
Naturealm Sacred 7 utilizes all the right parts of the functional mushroom. Not only do they contain 100% fruit bodies, but they’re organic and use highly-purified water in their breakdown process.
It’s called Sacred 7 because they utilize 7 of the most powerful functional mushrooms on the planet — Reishi, Maitake, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail, and Chaga. You won’t find any ingredients outside of those seven, making this a mushroom-only supplement.
It comes in a powder but won’t have any added flavors. This means it’ll come with an earthy taste that might be difficult for some to consume. Luckily they also provide a capsule-version, allowing customers to purchase it in a pill.
For the capsules, a two-month supply will cost you just $30. For the powder, an 80-serving container will cost just $23. It’s definitely the best budget deal you’ll find with mushroom supplements.
Another mushroom supplement that utilizes fruit body mushrooms over mycelium mushrooms, MycoMune, is a blend of some of the most popular functional mushrooms. It contains high amounts of Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, and Shiitake mushrooms, as well as a small amount of Chaga.
A one month’s supply will only cost around $20 and will come in a vegi-capsule for easy consumption.
If you wanted to kick it up a notch, they provide the same blend at 4x the strength — now, that’s a powerful supplement. They also have individual products for Maitake, Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane, and Reishi in case you didn’t want the full blend. These will also come in 4x versions as well.