In this article, we compare two well-regarded mushroom supplement brands, Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements and Real Mushrooms Supplements, to help you make an informed purchase decision.
Americans spent more than $32.2 billion on dietary supplements in 2022. In the past 25 years, mushroom supplements have become a huge industry, and between 1999 and 2014, the worldwide market for medicinal mushrooms rose from $6 billion to $18 billion. And yet supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA and other government bodies.
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Consequently, many types of mushroom supplements exist on the market of varying quality and usefulness. Understanding what makes a potent mushroom supplement helps consumers to pick the most effective product for the right price. Looking at two high-quality supplements, Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements and Real Mushrooms Supplements, we assess what makes the best mushroom supplement in terms of health benefits, quality, and price.
The history and science behind mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms are so versatile they are used in health foods, nutritional supplements like Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics. Traditional Chinese Medicine has utilized mushrooms for 1000s of years, and China is still producing a majority of the world’s mushroom population.
Mushrooms are commonly classified as basidiomycetes and contain four distinct groups: mushrooms, mycelium, sclerotium, and spores. When the spores germinate, they produce a hypha-thread-like tube that spreads and branches in every direction. As multiple spores germinate and hyphae grow, they create a root-like network called mycelium. The mycelium embeds itself in its food source, which is also known as the substrate.
Different parts of mushrooms contain varying levels of active compounds that endow them with vital health benefits. However, the significant active compounds in mushrooms are triterpenoids, ergosterol, and beta-glucans. These compounds may potentially be found in supplements like Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements and Real Mushrooms Supplements.
Beta-d-glucans are compounds that grow in the cell walls of mushrooms or mycelium. They can help strengthen the immune system and increase the production of macrophages (a type of white blood cell that helps to fight infections), natural killer cells, and subsets of T cells, all of which help strengthen the immune system.
Because they pass directly to the intestinal tract, beta-d-glucans in mushrooms are not affected by digestive enzymes. They can also form part of a traditional remedy for cancer therapy that increases protection against viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. They are antibiotic and anti-viral.
Triterpenoids are natural bioactive substances commonly found in plants. They help protect the liver, reduce the growth of tumors, and lower cholesterol. They also inhibit histamine release and play a complementary role with beta-d-glucans in immune activation. Ergosterols are present in all fungi and possess anti-tumor and antioxidant properties.
Mycelium v. fruiting body
In 2017, the American Herbal Products Association released labeling guidelines for mushrooms in supplements. “There’s FDA guidance policy around mushrooms and mycelium and how they should be properly labeled,” reports Skye Chilton, the founder of Real Mushrooms.
These suggest that supplements should clearly label whether their products use the fruiting body or mycelium. Because it is not a requirement, not all products comply and may be misleading. Mushroom supplements that use the fruiting bodies of mushrooms instead of mycelium are considered higher quality and contain more potent health benefits.
Mycelium typically grows in a grain substrate that melds with it and is hard to separate. Consequently, it can dilute the product. Mycelium also has fewer beta-glucans than the fruiting body, and the presence of mycelium can reduce the beneficial compounds found in the supplement.
Real Mushroom Supplements v. Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements
“One of the things that differentiate Real Mushrooms is the quality side of things,” Chilton says. Real Mushrooms believes in product testing to ensure active ingredients in mushrooms are optimal in their supplements. Their mushrooms are grown and extracted in China.
Although the company launched in 2016, there are over 40 years of experience with mushrooms behind their products. Real Mushrooms products use organically and sustainably grown mushrooms that are third-party verified for beta-d-glucans to ensure potency and effectiveness. Their products include zero fillers.
They also list the compounds and ingredients in their products to ensure transparency. They only extract from the mushroom fruiting body and list the percentage of beta-glucans in the product. Furthermore, their mushrooms are dual-hot water extracted, ensuring the most health benefits are acquired. They are gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, and priced at $34.95.
Fungi Perfecti, which produces Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements, was started by Paul Stamets, and his company has used cutting-edge research and solutions since the 1980s. They use USDA organic mushrooms, and their products are non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free.
Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements contain a combination of mycelium embedded in an organic brown rice substrate. The company harnesses scientific data to ensure the quality and effectiveness of its products, and independent authorities verify the supplements for purity, quality, and strength. They sell a wide variety of single mushroom-based products and mushroom blends starting at $19.95.
The mycelium and brown rice substrate are extracted and tested individually. Once the rice ferments, it becomes a new active substance that complements the mycelium’s health-supporting properties.
Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements employs scientists, including mycologists, botanists, biologists, chemists, and medical professionals, to test their products for safety, quality, and benefits.
Paul Stamets Mushroom Supplements v. Real Mushroom Supplements:
Real Mushrooms stands out because of their commitment to using only the mushroom fruiting body. Current evidence backs the idea that while mycelium has health-boosting compounds, the fruiting body is more potent for active compounds, especially beta-glucans, which are beneficial to multiple body systems.
Therefore, Real Mushrooms offers the most health-optimized supplement. Add in the fact that their products are quality tested, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free, and it’s clear that they are some of the most effective mushroom supplements for healthy living.
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Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet, fitness regimen, or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.
Regarding Nutritional Supplements Or Other Non-Prescription Health Products: If any nutritional supplements or other non-prescription health products are mentioned in the foregoing article, any claims or statements made about them have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and such nutritional supplements or other health products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.