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Choosing A Mushroom Supplement? Here's 4 Things To Know

When we started FreshCap, there was almost no one selling mushroom supplements. It just wasn't a thing. Now, there are a bewildering number of choices for consumers, with new ones popping up everyday. So... how are you to know the what to pick? Here are the top 4 things that you need to look out for when buying mushroom supplements.

1. Fruiting Body VS. MOG

MOG stands for "Mycelium on Grain", but I prefer to call it MGWAHOM (Mostly Grain With A Hint Of Mycelium). This is a cheap and easy way to "grow" mushrooms- by letting the mycelium grow out on a sterile grain, and then grinding that into a powder. This results in something that is mostly grain starch. The other option is to use the fruiting body- which involves growing the mushrooms to completion. The so-called "fruiting body" is just a fancy word for mushroom. Mushrooms contain high levels of beneficial compounds, so even though it is harder to do, it's so totally worth it. The caveat here is that mycelium itself can actually be beneficial, and is perfectly reasonable to use in a supplement. Using "MOG" however, it is impossible to separate the mycelium from the grain in the final product. The way this can be done effectively is through liquid fermentation. Growing mycelium in large vats where the pure mycelium can easily be isolated. This process is going to keep getting better over time, with more and more emphasis placed on isolating or optimizing for specific beneficial compounds. Bottom Line: The best thing to do right now in my opinion is, as a starting point, look for mushroom supplements that are made from whole fruiting body.

2. Extraction

With a few exceptions, most of the functional mushrooms are not "edible" in the way gourmet mushrooms are. They are hard, woody, and bitter. Traditionally, the way to get the benefits out of the mushroom and use it as a medicine was done by making a tea. This can be thought of as a hot water extraction. Our bodies weren't designed to break down mushroom cell walls. Extraction makes the beneficial compounds in the mushroom bio-available, so it can be utilized. You can perform hot water extraction (for beta-glucans), alcohol extraction (for fat soluble compounds, like triterpenes), or both. Some mushrooms like Turkey Tail are perfectly fine (and maybe even better) as a hot water extraction, while others like Chaga and Reishi are most beneficial if they have undergone a dual extraction. That is because they contain high levels of triterpenes where a large portion of the benefits come from. Bottom Line: Look for mushrooms that are thoroughly extracted.

3. Extraction Ratios and Equivalent Weight

One other thing that you should look for is whether or not the product uses something called "equivalent weight" for the mushrooms found in the product. This can be super deceiving. First you need to understand extraction ratios. Basically, it is a ratio of how much dried weight of mushrooms was used to make how much dried weight of extract. So for example, if you used 4 lbs of Lion's Mane to make 1 lb of extract, that would be a 4:1 ratio. Different mushrooms have different levels of extraction, and that make sense depending on the density of the mushroom. Some products that claim the mushrooms were extracted at a 10:1 ratio, will exaggerate the amount of mushrooms in the product by a factor of 10. In other words, there may be only a dusting of mushrooms in the product, but it will be reported as having an effective dose. Mushrooms don't really work that way, and high extraction ratios are not necessarily a marker for a quality product. As an extreme example, say you had a really poor yield on the extraction and ended up with a 100:1 extract (ie it took 100 lbs of dried mushroom to make 1 lb extract) would that mean you could put 1 gram in capsule and call it a 100 gram dose? No, that would be ridiculous. The amount that is on the label should reflect the actual amount of extract in the product. This is usually easy to spot once you know what to look for, and its more common in gummies or other products where flavour is key- because mushrooms are bitter and it can be hard to mask the flavour.

4. Testing For Active Compounds

Of course, the reason that mushrooms are beneficial is because of the compounds inside. But even if the product is "extracted" it's hard to know exactly what's in there. That is unless it's printed right on the label! Beta-glucans and triterpenes are easy to test for, so for pure mushroom products, there really is no reason not to have the amount printed right on the label. Different mushrooms will have different levels of active compounds. What you want to be able to do is compare different versions of the same species to see what product might be most effective for you. You should also make sure that the beta-glucan comes from mushrooms, and not from something else. For example, oats also contain beta-glucan, which is not the same as fungal beta-glucan, but might show up on the label either way. But as long as the product is just pure mushrooms, you can be sure that beta-glucan listed on the label is actually from mushrooms.

Quality Mushrooms, Made For You

Looking for high quality mushroom supplements? FreshCap products are made from whole organic fruiting body, thoroughly extracted to make the beneficial compounds available, and of course thoroughly tested with the level of active compounds right on the label!
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