Learn To Be A Mushroom Hunter...
In The Supplements Aisle
Mushroom Hunting or Mushroom Foraging can be a fun, challenging, and rewarding experience. You get to spend time outdoors and eventually learn the difference between these two mushrooms…
Today we are going to teach you a different type of mushroom hunting… mushroom supplement hunting!
Okay, not as fun as mushroom foraging in the woods, but arguably, even more challenging.
Can you identify these two mushrooms in supplement form?
Yeah, this type of supplement mushroom hunting involves lab work, an understanding of what makes a mushroom a mushroom, and some basic biology.
Don’t click the X on your browser yet. We promise, you don’t need a degree in biology to understand the world of mushroom supplements, we will keep it entertaining, informative, and include photos of puppies.
If you really like the idea of mushroom hunting in the woods, well, just take whatever device you are reading this on with you as you go for a walk in the woods :)
First — Why Would You Want To Hunt For The Best Mushroom Supplement?
Are you the type of person who likes to read the last page of a book first? Great, me too!
So before we dive into the specifics of supplement mushroom hunting, let’s briefly review why you might want to take a high quality mushroom supplement. There are many different types of mushrooms with varying nutritional properties depending on species.
In general, mushrooms are a low calories source of:
- B vitamins (riboflavin [B2], folate [B9], thiamine [B1], pantothenic acid [B5] and niacin [B3]),
- minerals (selenium, potassium, copper, iron, and phosphorus)
- and other polyphenols and micro-nutrients.
In short, mushrooms are packed with nutrients and have been shown to provide health benefits such as:
- Helps immune system functions
- Enhance mood
- Boost Memory
- Maintain a Healthy Heart
- Increase energy
- Support gut health and digestion
- Help maintain healthy bone and joint function
Given the impressive list of health benefits coupled with the fact that some species of mushrooms can be hard to find, it becomes clear why a mushroom supplement, which could provide all the nutrients of mushrooms in a convenient format, would be appealing.
Great! Now that we understand the payoff of finding a high quality mushroom supplement,
let’s get to the task at hand – give you the tools and education to be a Master Mushroom Supplement Hunter!
Mushrooms — What Are They?
Are mushrooms an animal?
Nope… unless you named your dog mushroom, but that’s just weird. Okay, that was an easy one, how about this…
Are mushrooms a plant?
Nope! Mushrooms lack chlorophyll, so they are not plants. Mushrooms are their own kingdom – Fungi.
So next time you are at a pizza place and they list mushrooms under the vegetable toppings you can explain that is incorrect and they should be listed under fungus.
Come on, how great would it be to hear them yell in the order…
The Parts of a Mushroom — Are Fungi and Mushrooms The Same?
Many people believe this is a mushroom.
That certainly is a mushroom. We are seeing the cap, gills, and stalk – which is called the fruiting body.
Why fruiting body? Because that is actually the reproductive part of a mushroom. This is what grows after fungi mate.
So what is a mushroom before it mates? Technically, it is a mycelium fungi.
Don’t worry, this biology lesson is almost done.
Here is a graphic that might help…
The mycelium is similar to the root system in a plant. So, while we may think the mushroom we see (the fruiting body) is all there is, there is actually much more going on underground in this complex organism.
In fact, the fruiting body makes up less than 5% of the fungi organism. (2)
The part of the fungus you see above ground, is the fruiting body and often called the mushroom. Connected to that mushroom is the mycelium, the larger part of the fungus that acts like a root system and supplies nutrients to the entire fungus.
Forget Magic Mushrooms, Let’s Talk Marvelous Mycelium
At this point I should point out, the focus of this article is medicinal mushrooms. We will not be talking about magic mushrooms or psychedelic mushrooms. Our interest here is teaching you to be a mushroom supplement hunter for medicinal mushrooms that are packed with nutrients... and 100% legal.
While a little off topic, I do want to point out that the mycelium has some pretty amazing properties of it’s own. It seems the fruiting body gets all the press, but here are just a few amazing facts about the marvelous mycelium…
- Mushrooms Use Mycelium to Communicate With a 50 word vocabulary
- More than 80% of the earth under your feet is mycelium (2)
- One cubic inch of soil can contain enough mycelia to stretch 8 miles. (1)
- Nearly four square miles in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest is covered in one network of mycelium…it’s name… The Humongous Fungus! (1)
- Mycelium don’t just provide nutrients for mushrooms, they also provide nutrients for plants. Mycelium stretch further than plant roots and therefore can provide nutrients the plant roots could never reach
- It’s not just about nutrients! Mycelium actually provide a network for plants to share nutrients and even communicate with each other!
We could keep going, but it is clear there is a lot more to mushrooms and fungi than just the fruiting body.
I thought this article was about hunting for the best mushroom supplements?
It is, Wise Grasshopper! Now that we have established some fundamentals, we can get to this issue at hand…
Ready for the big reveal? The top secret wisdom?
The best mushroom supplement is the one with the most mushroom nutrients.
Boom. All done. You’re welcome.
Okay, let's explain...
We have gone over the different parts of a mushroom (or technically the fungal organism) – the fruiting body and the mycelium. But if we want to find the best mushroom supplement, the one with the most nutrient dense mushroom parts in it, we first need to determine the nutrients that make a mushroom a mushroom.
We Don't Have A Pony In This Race
Spend any time online hunting for mushroom supplements and you will see lots of conflicting claims…
- Only the Fruiting Body Has Nutrients
- The Mycelium Has the Nutrients You Want
- Mushrooms Supplements Grown on Grain Are Just Starch
More Conflicting Claims
- Beta-Glucans Only Come From the Fruiting Body
- All Medicines Made From Mushrooms Use the Mycelium
- If it’s not Double Extracted, You Don’t Get the Nutrients
And the crazy conflicting claims go on and on.
How do we know all this? Because we were told all these claims and more by suppliers when looking to put together our Perfect Mushroom Immunity supplement.
We had identified three species of mushrooms that had impressive health benefits and clinical studies when it came to immune health – Chaga, Reishi, and Turkey Tail. That was the easy part.
Now we needed to find powdered versions of these three mushrooms that actually contained the key nutrients that gave them their health benefits.
We really didn’t have a pony in this race. We were not Fruiting Body Fanatics. Also, not part of the Mycelium Mania.
We simply wanted to make a mushroom supplement that could be lab tested and proven to contain the key nutrients of the three species of mushrooms.
The Elusive Mushroom Fingerprint
While suppliers like to have lively debates on fruiting body vs mycelium, we decided we needed a much more scientific approach.
If we could find a Mushroom Fingerprint or signature – something unique to mushrooms, then we could do lab testing and see which mushroom powder had the correct signature.
After all, when shopping for a mushroom supplement, you are looking for one that is nutrient dense and provides health benefits and care less about exactly how it is grown or processed.
This mushroom fingerprint is really the key to being a successful supplement mushroom hunter, so bear with us while go into a little more biology…
Beta-Glucans and Polysaccharides – Oh Boy!
I put that “Oh Boy!” at the end to try to stop your head from hitting the keyboard as you fell asleep reading the above heading.
Don’t worry, it’s not as boring as it sounds…
and I promise… the puppies are coming soon…
Polysaccharides are long chain carbohydrates. They are present in mushrooms and you can pretty easily test for polysaccharides.
Have we found our elusive Mushroom fingerprint?
If a product is high in polysaccharides, it must be a mushroom?
The problem is that starches and grains are also high in polysaccharides, so a lab test showing high polysaccharide levels could mean you have mushrooms… or you have grains… or you have starch.
We need something more unique to mushrooms for our signature…
Beta-Glucans are a type of polysaccharide and more specifically Beta-D-Glucans are found in high concentrations in medicinal mushrooms (15% or greater) and not in grains or starch.
As this study explains Beta-D-Glucans are the primary component in mushrooms that provide its medicinal properties, more on this later, but for now we are more interested in using it for our Mushroom fingerprint.
A Possible Mushroom Fingerprint:
Lab test a powder that claims to be mushrooms. If it has 15% Beta-D-Glucans or more, it is a mushroom.
Bring On The Puppies To Test Our Mushroom Fingerprint
I promised you puppies, and you will get puppies, but you need to work for it a little bit.
First, let’s go back to our mounds of powder…
Yeah, still can’t tell which is mushroom until we apply our mushroom fingerprint lab testing.
Similarly, can you tell which of these houses contains a cute puppy…
Nope. But if we had, let’s say a Puppy Fingerprint, a test that could reveal more info, things would be a lot easier.
For example, let’s say we can open some windows in the house and now see this –
Ah, by applying the same test to both houses, it is now clear which one has the cute puppy.
Let’s tie this back into mushrooms and Beta-D-Glucans and bring this analogy home…
By revealing information (lab testing), we are able to see greater than 15% puppy parts (Beta-D-Glucans) in House A (a sample of powder), while there are still very important parts of the puppy (mushroom) that our reveal (lab testing) does not show, like the heart and stomach (antioxidants and B vitamins), we can be relatively sure house A (this sample of powder) does indeed contain a puppy (mushroom).
Remember Mad-Libs? Let's treat this like a Mad-Lib.
Here is our Puppy Fingerprint presented as a Mad-Lib.
By revealing information , we are able to see
greater than 15% puppy parts in House A ,
while there are still very important parts
of the puppy that our reveal does not show,
like the heart and stomach , we can be relatively
sure House A does indeed contain a puppy .
Now let’s simply replace each phrase in red with the corresponding mushroom terms…
By lab testing , we are able to see
greater than 15% Beta-D-Glucans in this sample of powder ,
while there are still very important parts
of the mushroom that our lab testing does not show,
like the antioxidants and B vitamins , we can be relatively
sure this sample of powder does indeed contain a mushroom .
We Are "Relatively Sure" But We Want A Better Fingerprint!
While the greater than 15% Beta-D-Glucans is a great start to our Mushroom Fingerprint, it still does not rule out something like this…
Wow, not sure what that is, and might have greater than 15% puppy parts – but those robot legs… something ain’t right here.
Now, to get the ultimate Mushroom Fingerprint we need to also test for what should NOT be in the powder.
Alpha-Glucans are another type of polysaccharide and are primarily found in starch and grain. Importantly, mushrooms will NOT have more than 5% of Alpha-Glucans.
So, just like we don’t want a puppy with more than 5% of robot legs – we don’t want a mushroom powder with more than 5% Alpha-Glucans.
Drumroll please – we finally have the elusive Mushroom Fingerprint…
The Testable Mushroom Fingerprint:
Lab test a powder that claims to be mushrooms. If it has 15% Beta-D-Glucans or more, and less than 5% Alpha-Glucans, it is a mushroom.
Now instead of esoteric debates on the merits of fruiting body, extraction methods, mycelium, and more… we can simply look at the lab work to find high quality mushroom powders.
Testing The Powder
So let’s show those mounds of powder, after applying our Mushroom fingerprint test…
Finally we know that Powder A is the mushroom powder… and no idea what B is, but it certainly does not have the fingerprint of mushrooms.
Are We Saying All That is In a Mushroom is A Certain Ratio of Polysacharides?
We are just using this ratio to determine if the powder in question is a mushroom. If so, then it stands to reason it will have all the other important nutrients that are in mushrooms.
Remember our goal here, we are not trying to find every nutrient in a mushroom – that would be near impossible since they will vary from species to species. Instead we are trying to find the key nutrients that are in every mushroom, so we can create that mushroom fingerprint – something we can lab test for to establish if a powder really contains mushroom nutrients.
That’s an ice cream sundae. It has ice cream and that is certainly a big part of the sundae. In fact couldn't have an ice cream sundae without ice cream. Still, lots of other stuff to that sundae - whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, cherry on top - and all great stuff.
The ice cream is like the Beta-D-Glucans in mushrooms. Just like you can't have an ice cream sundae without ice cream - can't have a medicinal mushroom without Beta-D-Glucans. Also reasonable to say, just as ice cream is the most important part to the sundae, Beta-D-Glucans are the most important part (from a health benefits standpoint) to a mushroom.
Still - just like the whipped cream, chocolate sauce and cherry in a sundae, lots of other parts of the mushroom, beyond Beta-D-Glucans, that are beneficial, and we certainly want in a mushroom supplement.
Hungry yet? Let's keep going...
Just as there are many different types of ice cream sundaes (hot fudge, caramel, strawberry) there are many different species of mushrooms (reishi, chaga, turkey tail, etc). While the different types of sundaes will taste different and the various species of mushrooms have different nutrients and health properties, every sundae has ice cream and every medicinal mushroom has Beta-D-Glucans.
Okay, for fear of further angering our lactose intolerant readers, I will move on from sundaes…
Say It With Us – "Show Us the Lab Work!"
Back to our quest to find the best supplier for mushroom powders when we were formulating our Perfect Mushroom Immunity.
As we mentioned earlier, suppliers kept trying to sell us on how their mushroom was grown, processed or extracted. While this is of course important, we are people of science, so we politely, kept saying, “Show Us The Lab Work!”
Talk is cheap and unfortunately, you can’t always believe what a supplier might tell you. By demanding to see lab work showing 15% Beta-D-Glucans and less than 5% Alpha-Glucans – we could let the science guide us to the best mushroom powder suppliers.
Because we are a little obsessive when it comes to quality, we then had our final Perfect Mushroom Immunity product tested again. Here are the results…
In addition to those impressive lab results, we also went above and beyond with our Perfect Mushroom Immunity product …
- Made with only USDA Organic Mushrooms
- Use Fruiting Body and Mycelium to Provide all Nutrients
- Sustainably Grown
- No Other Ingredients
- No fillers or flow agents
- Tested for Beta-D-Glucans and Alpha-Glucans
- Tested for Heavy Metals
- Tested for Microbials
- 100% Money Back Guarantee
When your company name is Perfect Supplements, you can’t make just good supplements… they need to be Perfect!
Now Wise Mushroom Hunter, You Are Ready. Go Hunt!
If you have made it this far, you did it! You have earned a black belt in supplement mushroom hunting!
Of course, we think our Perfect Mushroom Immunity is an awesome product, but maybe you are looking for a different species of mushroom.
With the information you have learned, you now have the education and knowledge to find the best mushroom supplements.
But what if a company doesn’t show their lab work? Doesn’t prove their Beta-D-Glucan and Alpha-Glucan levels? Instead just talks about fruiting bodies or shows lots of pretty pictures of mushrooms.
In this case, we would recommend not buying from that company, because in the end, you are back trying to pick the mushroom supplement with only this much scientific information – A or B…