Are you looking for ways to boost your health and well-being in 2024? If you haven’t yet, incorporating functional mushrooms into your life is an easy and effective way to get proactive about your health – and best of all, it doesn’t take much effort to get started.
But how does functional mushrooms work, and how can you be sure your chosen mushroom supplement is as effective as the marketing promises? In this article, we’ll give you a crash course in how functional mushrooms work, what to look for in an effective supplement, and a quick checklist for getting the most out of your functional mushrooms.
Why Should Functional Mushrooms Be Part of Your Healthy Habits?
We live in a stressful, polluted world, and while you might be used to it, your body still feels the effects. Stress, as well as things like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and various medications release compounds called free radicals in your body.
Free radicals are compounds that attack molecules in various parts of your body, causing oxidative stress – and over time, this may lead to cell damage and a range of degenerative health conditions. In short, free radicals and oxidative stress has a negative impact on your general health and well-being, and may lead to larger health issues down the line if left unchecked.
However, antioxidants and adaptogens can help the body to fight free radicals and thus improve your general well-being. Antioxidants are found in many fruits and vegetables, and those with the most concentration of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants are often referred to as superfoods.
Functional mushrooms are considered superfoods – in fact, they’re some of the best. Also known as adaptogenic mushrooms, functional mushrooms are jam-packed full of powerful antioxidants and nutrients that boost your immune system, help fight free radicals, and improve your overall well-being.
If you want to dig into the research behind functional mushrooms and their proven effects, check out this comprehensive guide to research studies on the effects of mushrooms like Reishi, Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Chaga and Maitake.
Now that we’re clear on why you should make functional mushrooms part of your healthy habits in 2024, let’s dig into how to find quality mushroom supplements that actually work.
How to Find Effective Mushroom Supplements
The fact is, not all mushroom supplements are created equal. But when wading through the range of brands and products online, all claiming to be the best, it’s difficult to know which supplements actually work and why. So, what makes a mushroom supplement effective? Here’s what to look for before buying.
Mycelium vs Fruiting Body
When we speak about mushrooms, we often talk about the mycelium and the fruiting body. The fruiting body is the part of the mushroom that you can see – the traditional cap and stem, if you will. The mycelium is the connected network of spores that grow underground, as a type of root system.
To get the most out of your functional mushrooms, you want a supplement packed with as many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants as possible, which is why it’s important to check if a supplement is made only from the mycelium, the fruiting body, or both. In most adaptogenic mushrooms, you’ll find majority of the beneficial compounds in the fruiting body, and any quality mushroom supplement will contain at least some of the fruiting body.
However, it’s a common misconception that mycelium is entirely useless and only included as filler. There are actually many beneficial compounds in the mycelium too, and these adaptogens may differ from the adaptogens in the fruiting body. In other words, if your supplement contains only the fruiting body, you may miss out on some of the benefits found in the mycelium. The best supplements will contain both, to give you as wide a range of antioxidants and adaptogens as possible.
There are also some sustainability considerations for supplements that only use the fruiting body – learn more about ethical and sustainable mushroom sourcing here.
The beneficial compounds you want from your adaptogenic mushrooms are locked away tight inside their cell walls, which are made from chitin – it’s an organic polymer that is stronger than cellulose, and impossible for your body to break down on its own.
This is important, because a supplement that simply grinds a mushroom into a powder may contain all of the beneficial compounds you’re looking for, but they’re still a waste – your body won’t be able to absorb them. Instead, you should opt for mushroom supplements that have extracted the adaptogens from inside the mushrooms to make them bioavailable.
Some of the nutrients in functional mushrooms are water-soluble, while others are alcohol-soluble. This is why you should always opt for supplements using a double-extraction method, meaning they extract nutrients using both alcohol and water. Otherwise, you may not get the full effect of your mushroom of choice.
Mug on bedside table with mushroom-infused hot drink.
Third-party tested for Beta-Glucans
Saying your supplements are effective is one thing – proving it is another. Any mushroom supplier worth their salt will third-party test their final product’s nutrient density, to ensure that the quality remains high and consistent, and that they can actually deliver the benefits they promise.
Most commonly, companies will (and should) test their supplements for beta-glucans, a highly beneficial compound found in the cell walls of mushrooms. Beta-glucans boost the immune system, improve heart health, and a variety of other important functions in your body.
If you ask your supplier, the test results should be available for you to see, so be wary of a company that doesn’t test their products' nutrient density or hesitate to share the results.
Mg per serving
How much are you getting per serving? It should be clearly listed on any supplement how many mg of extract it contains per serving, so that you know you’re eating enough per day to get the desired effect.
Most studies testing the efficiency of functional mushrooms have test subjects consuming between 1000-4000mg of extract per day, and it’s generally agreed that less than 500mg of extract per day won’t give any real results.
Organic & Clean Supplements
Apart from the nutrient efficiency of your mushroom supplements, it’s important to look for organic and clean products that have been produced and harvested sustainably. Mushrooms easily absorb toxins in their surroundings, and if grown in poorly controlled environments they may contain heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants that you don’t want anywhere near your body.
Want to learn how to find non-toxic, sustainable, and ethical mushroom supplements? Check out this article that deep-dives on mushroom production and clean sourcing.
The 3 Keys to Effective Mushroom Consumption
If you’re ready to start incorporating functional mushrooms into your healthy habits, there are a couple of things to bear in mind so you actually reap the benefits from your efforts.
1. High-quality, clean, effective mushroom supplement
As you can tell from above, not all mushroom supplements are created equal, so do your research and choose one that is truly effective, clean of any toxins, and that supports your personal health goals and needs.
Different mushrooms contain different adaptogens, and are typically used for different health-boosting effects – for instance, Lion’s mane is best known for focus and brain health, while Reishi is best known for its calming effects. If you’re unsure about which mushrooms are best suited for the effects you’re looking for, check out this guide to functional mushrooms and their proven effects.
2. Enough mg of mushroom extract per day
It’s simple math – if you don’t consume enough adaptogens, you’re not going to get the effect you’re hoping for. So make sure to pick a supplement that is rigorously tested for its nutrient efficiency, and that it contains enough mg of extract per serving.
Most studies measuring the effects of adaptogenic mushrooms look at subjects consuming between 1000mg and 4000mg of extract per day – to see real results, you should try to consume at least 1000mg of extract per day, but anything below 500mg is unlikely to get you results.
3. Daily Consumption
Consistent consumption is an important key to see results from adaptogenic mushrooms. Just like with vitamins, if you stop eating them, their effects wane. Free radicals are consistently released in the body, and so adaptogens must also be consistently consumed – they’re not stored up for life, but used up as fuel for your body.
Research finds that it usually takes about two weeks of consistent consumption before you start to feel the effects of functional mushrooms. It also finds that if you stop eating them for a longer period of time, their effects cease.
Make Morning Coffee The Healthiest Part of Your Day
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate functional mushrooms into your daily life, coffee is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to go about it. Coffee is already a natural part of your life, so you don’t need to add on yet another thing to your routine to enjoy the benefits of functional mushrooms – all you need to do is switch up your beans.
Even better, coffee infused with functional mushrooms is kinder on sensitive stomachs, and can relieve the jitters and caffeine crashes that so many of us struggle with. This is because the antioxidants in functional mushrooms can balance out the effects of caffeine and acidity in your body – in other words, switching to mushroom coffee is healthier and makes you feel better.
If you’re looking for a quality mushroom coffee to try, look no further than Peak State Coffee. Our coffees are 100% organic, Fair trade certified, and shade-grown for maximum sustainability and nutrient efficiency.
It’s also the world’s first whole bean coffee infused with functional mushrooms, through our unique, patented infusion process. We use both mycelium and fruiting body from U.S. grown mushrooms, a double-extraction method, and third-party test all our products for beta glucans. Each 8oz cup of Peak State coffee contains 500mg of mushroom extract, to ensure you get enough throughout the day to get the desired effects.
Bottomline: How to Find Effective Mushroom Supplements
When looking for effective mushroom supplements, there are a few key things to put on your checklist. A quality mushroom supplement should consist of at least part of the mushroom’s fruiting body, but preferably both fruiting body and mycelium. The mushrooms should be double-extracted to ensure the beneficial adaptogens can be absorbed by your body, and the supplier should third-party test their final products for beta-glucans as well as toxins.
For more considerations about ethical and clean mushroom sourcing, check out this article that deep-dives into mushroom sourcing and its pitfalls.
To get the most out of functional mushrooms, make sure you’re getting about 1000mg of mushroom extract per day or more – anything less than 500mg won’t yield any real results.
Consistent, daily consumption is also key – like with vitamins, if you stop consuming them, the effect wanes.
If you’re looking to incorporate functional mushrooms into your healthy habits in 2024, coffee infused with functional mushroom extract is one of the best ways to do it. Most likely, coffee is already part of your daily routine, so you won’t have to change much to get the added benefits. Besides, the adaptogens actually balance out the jittery effects of caffeine and makes the acidity kinder on sensitive stomachs.
Psst! Want to learn more about mushroom sourcing and finding clean, ethically produced mushroom supplements? Check out this article next.