The Major Benefits of Mushroom Supplements, According to a Dietitian

There are many benefits from taking mushroom supplements, and this article explains everything you need to know before considering one.

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Functional mushrooms are fungi that contain high levels of nutrients that are great for the body in a number of ways. You can use functional mushrooms to boost your immune system, balance your nervous system, regulate your gut and so much more. You’re probably not eating a lot of functional mushrooms as part of your daily diet, but there are mushroom supplements that contain these nutrients and compounds.

Different varieties of mushroom supplements are on the market right now and they include different species of fungi. We’ve talked about functional mushrooms as a coffee substitute, but you can also purchase them in capsule or powder form. Figuring out what you need from a mushroom supplement can be difficult which is why I’ve put together this guide for you.

What Are Functional Mushrooms?

functional mushrooms

There are more than 10,000 different species of mushrooms growing on our Earth right now, with approximately 2,000 of them being edible or medicinal in nature. There are fifteen species that are considered functional mushrooms. They have excellent nutritional benefits but can also boost your health and wellbeing in a number of ways. Functional mushrooms can improve your mental health, help you focus better, increase energy levels and much more.

The Major Benefits of Mushroom Supplements

functional mushroom supplements benefits

It has been thousands of years that mushrooms have been used medicinally to heal, balance and nourish. Each mushroom is very unique and has its own benefits, which is what we’re going to take a look at here.

Reishi for Stress Relief

Reishi mushrooms are often used for mental health issues like anxiety and depression thanks to its calming ability. Reishi contains triterpene which is an excellent friend to the nervous system. You can reduce your risk of an inappropriate fight or flight response, wind down easier at night so you sleep better and clear your mind of those ruminating thoughts. It can also be used to help you lose weight more efficiently and boost your immune system.

Lion’s Mane for Improved Brain Function

If you’re someone that experiences brain fog at certain points of the day, you can achieve better clarity and concentration with the use of lion’s mane mushrooms. Lion’s mane mushrooms are quite large in nature, and they have very long tendrils that grow out of the top of their structure. It makes it look as though they have a lion’s mane. They are very high in antioxidants which help to boost the immune system. They also boost the production of bioprotein, which aids in nerve function. If you have a deficiency in bioprotein, this can cause an increased risk of multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Lion’s mane mushrooms can be eaten raw, but they can also be dried to protect their nutritional makeup. They are then put into capsules or in a powdered functional mushroom supplement that can be added to things like smoothies or teas.

Chaga for Antioxidants for Fighting Free Radicals and Inflammation

Turn to chaga mushrooms if you’re looking for a huge antioxidant boost that will help your body fight against free radicals, oxidative stress and inflammation. Chaga has shown promising results for slowing the spread of cancer and lowering cholesterol levels naturally. Inflammation occurs in the body due to the presence of cytokines. The healthy components in chaga mushrooms that reduce this inflammation and prevent the formation of cytokines include initial, ergosterol peroxide and betulinic acid.

Shiitake for a Healthier Heart

You may have cooked with shiitake mushrooms a few times but it’s also an excellent functional mushroom that’s in a lot of supplements. Shiitake mushrooms boost heart health, can lower cholesterol levels and promote healthy circulation throughout your body which equates to a healthier heart. If our LDL cholesterol levels are too high, this can make it hard for your heart to function optimally. Shiitake mushrooms contain phytonutrients that help prevent cholesterol from building up on the walls of our blood vessels and arteries.

Turkey Tail for Improved Immune System Function

Turkey tail has a high antioxidant profile but it also contains the compound polysaccharide-K. This compound has the potential to stimulate the immune system so well that it has increased the survival rate of cancer patients in a few different studies. It’s been used as a compliment to chemotherapy.

Cordyceps for Increased Energy

Cordyceps are the mushroom you want to turn to if you’re experiencing a big drop in energy at some point during the day. It’s beneficial as a pre-workout agent as it boosts circulation throughout the body. It can also be used post workout to speed up your recovery.

It’s possible that our cells can become resistant to insulin. When this happens, we’re not absorbing enough glucose to keep us feeling energized. Cordyceps can improve this insulin resistance. Cordyceps can also boost ATP production. Adenosine triphosphate captures energy from food and then releases it into the body.

Types of Mushroom Supplements You Can Benefit From

types of mushroom supplements for benefits

Functional mushroom products come in many different forms. You can use multiple options to achieve the state of health that you’re looking for. Just make sure you’re careful with the dosing.

Mushroom Coffees

Mushroom coffee (see our top-rated mushroom coffees) is a much healthier alternative to the traditional cup of Joe that so many of us drink. Functional mushrooms provide a natural and safe form of energy that allows you to reduce your caffeine intake. You’ll experience less jitters and no huge energy crash later in the afternoon.

Recommended Brands / Products

One of our favorite products is RYZE Superfoods mushroom coffee – they're an excellent brand that makes a product. MUD\WTR also makes a great mushroom coffee, as well as Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee which is an all-in-one mushroom supplement online store.

Mushroom Sprays

Mushroom sprays are very convenient and they are quickly absorbed by the body. You simply spray one or two squirts into your mouth. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes before you start to feel increased energy and focus. It’s a nice product that you can keep in your purse or bag, using it as needed when you start to feel fatigued.

Recommended Brands / Products

Supermush mushroom mouth spray is a unique mushroom supplement, but gaining massive popularity because of the ease of use. The product has outstanding customer reviews and most people say that it works.

Mushroom Powders

If you purchase a functional mushroom powder, this is a collection of mushrooms that have been dried and pulverized into a very fine powder. You can use this product in your smoothies or meals for a nutritional boost.

Recommended Brands

Fresh Cap is a complete mushroom supplement brand offering excellent mushroom powders.

Mushroom Capsules

A mushroom capsule product is convenient. If you don’t like to worry about dosing your product yourself and just want to be able to take a supplement quickly each morning, then this is a great option. You can choose a combination of mushrooms that achieve what you’re looking for (energy, weight loss, focus, decreased inflammation, etc.).

Recommended Brands

Fresh Cap gets the nod once again for mushroom capsules. Visit their official website here to browse their products.

Will You Benefit From Mushroom Supplements?

benefiting from mushroom supplements

You should always check with your doctor before starting any kind of supplement, but there are a lot of people that would benefit from the regular use of functional mushrooms in one form or another.

Consider Using If You Fall Into One of These Categories

Let’s see if you fit into any of these categories. And, if you do, you could benefit from functional mushroom supplements.

People with Low Energy

Mushrooms can boost your energy in a number of ways. For example, you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels with a functional mushroom blend. This equates to more energy and less energy crashes. These mushrooms also contain high levels of B vitamins, which are a big source of bodily energy. You may also experience more balanced hormones, reducing the low energy moments that you have.

Making Your Skin and Hair Look Healthier

The antioxidant properties of functional mushrooms are good for your immune system, but they can also help to improve the quality of your skin and hair. When your whole body is healthy, you’ll see this in little changes. A bad diet can result in breakouts and skin issues. Getting enough nutrients, antioxidants and other ingredients can help you look your best.

Trouble Focusing

The adaptogenic properties of functional mushrooms can help bring your body and mind to a more balanced state. If you are having difficulty focusing, you can take a mushroom supplement to make your brain sharper and more alert throughout the day. Lion’s Mane is known for supporting the brain and nervous system, so look for a product that contains this ingredient if focus is what you’re hoping to achieve.

High Cholesterol Numbers

There are a number of components in functional mushrooms that help to lower cholesterol in the body. Beta-glucan is a form of soluble fiber that is found in many mushroom varieties. It interferes with the absorption of cholesterol. Eritadenine changes the way that lipids are formed in the liver, lowering their levels overall. Mevinolin slows the production of the enzyme HMG CoA reductase, which makes cholesterol.

When Trying to Reduce Caffeine

A lot of people consume a great deal of caffeine over the course of a day. Your doctor may have recently advised you to cut back on this amount due to health reasons, but you don’t know how you’re going to achieve that. Functional mushrooms provide you with a much healthier source of energy, which allows you to make the transition away from a traditional cup of coffee. Not only can you take functional mushrooms orally for this purpose, but you can also use a mushroom coffee blend to still get the effect of drinking coffee in the morning.

When There’s a Need for a Boosted Immune System

Functional mushrooms contain components like beta-glucans, polyphenols, polysaccharides and antioxidants. Working together, these ingredients can help support your immune system. You won’t see an immediate change in most cases, but taking them over a longer period of time will likely result in more beneficial bacteria in your gut. Our immune system is largely dependent on our gut health, so this is how we can try to be healthier as a whole.

To Calm the Mind

Who doesn’t experience some degree of stress these days? If you have trouble winding down at the end of a long day, you deal with anxiety or worry, you should look for a functional mushroom blend that contains reishi. Reishi can help you achieve inner peace that you don’t often experience. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep, which can reduce your stress levels overall.

mushroom supplements tips

Tips for Success from the RD

Functional mushrooms have the ability to boost your brain health, increase focus and provide you with mental clarity. I want to share some tips with you to maximize this potential.

Focus on the Sleep You’re Getting

It’s important that you’re getting enough sleep at night if you want to be able to focus during the day. You can achieve a more restful night of sleep by using functional mushrooms a few hours before you head to bed. They can help you unwind, fall asleep faster and stay asleep. You may also find that you’re able to fall into a deeper sleep when you use functional mushrooms.

Keep Your Brain Nourished

It’s so important that your brain is getting all of the nutrition that it needs on a cellular level. We talked earlier about the high nutritional component of functional mushrooms. While this might not be enough to fill in all of the nutritional gaps that may exist in your diet, you will definitely benefit from things like B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D, copper, potassium and pantothenic acid when it comes to brain health.

Focus on Physical Activity

Finding some way to get your heart rate up on a daily basis can help increase mental clarity, focus, reduce stress and keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Exercise gets those endorphins pumping and you’ll experience a surge of serotonin. All of these things benefit your brain. Try to work at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your day each day. Bonus points if you can get your sweat on too.

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Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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