Now that medicinal mushrooms are a huge part of the supplement industry, there are more brands than ever. It can be challenging to choose the best brands. One thing that sets brands apart is the quality of ingredients, which can come down to bioavailability.
Most people who buy supplements assume that they will have some benefit. However, many supplements on the market have minimal bioavailability, which means they don't have much benefit at all.
Since brands do not tend to publish information about bioavailability on the label, this guide will explain everything you need to know about mushroom capsules and supplements.
What Does Bioavailability Mean and Why Is It Important?
Bioavailability means the amount of a substance/compound that the human body can actually use. This is important for all types of supplements as it determines how much the body can absorb. With mushroom supplements, bioavailability is vital.
A lot of supplements have a surprisingly low bioavailability. This can be very disappointing to consumers, who will not reap the benefits of the accessories in the way they want. In particular, it can be frustrating to feel that you have wasted money on something that doesn't work.
Unfortunately, not a lot of brands disclose information about the bioavailability of their supplements. While many consumers are clamoring for more transparency in the industry, the sad fact remains that most customers are in the dark right now.
So, what is the truth about mushroom supplements?
The Bioavailability of Mushroom Supplements
Medicinal mushroom supplements have become extremely popular recently. Users can consume various species of functional mushrooms in the form of powder or even mushroom capsules.
Humans have consumed raw mushrooms for millennia for their therapeutic properties, but contemporary science has made it possible to consume them in the form of tasteless pills.
When it comes to bioavailability, mushrooms rank pretty low. In fact, mushroom supplements are relatively useless unless they contain mushroom extract.
Mushroom cells are made of a rigid material called chitin, which is extremely hard and challenging to digest. The beneficial compounds found within mushrooms, such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans, are locked within these solid cell walls.
Human stomach acid contains extremely low levels of chitinase, the enzyme required to break down chitin. As a result, most people cannot process powdered mushrooms. Some studies have revealed that individuals have varying levels of chitinase, which makes mushroom supplements a total gamble.
However, not all is lost.
Mushroom extracts can be much more bioavailable. It's vital to double-check the ingredients of any given mushroom supplement to find out what's inside. If the manufacturer describes an extract loaded with beta-glucans and antioxidants, then you're on the right track.
That said, many brands use the term 'extract' in a misleading way. Therefore, it's necessary to know how to select the best supplements.
Choosing the Best Mushroom Supplements
The only way to know for certain what mushroom supplements are worthwhile is via lab reports. Some brands publish these on the site, but you may request to see them from the brands that don't.
Certificates of analysis (COA) from the lab do not only reveal whether the supplement contains toxins and heavy metals, but they can also indicate the beneficial compounds found within. If the lab tests detect numerous healthy ingredients, this probably means that the supplement contains an extract.
However, consumers are not out of the fire yet. You may need to do some digging to find out if the lab that did the testing is reputable. Some laboratories are 'dry labs,' which means they calculate ingredients using mathematics and statistics rather than actually testing the products. This is not ideal for this kind of testing.
Secondly, some COAs note that, prior to analysis, the labs use enzyme treatments on the supplements. In other words, the testers apply chitinase to break down the chitin before testing the product. The results of such tests are unreliable because it does not indicate what the product was like prior to the enzyme treatment.
Sadly, the supplement industry, in general, is riddled with deception. If you are seeking a high-quality mushroom extract, make sure you do your research on brands and find a company that is transparent.
Summary on the Bioavailability of Mushroom Supplements
In general, raw mushrooms have a very low bioavailability. This means that they are not helpful when made into powdered mushroom supplements. In order to make them more bioavailable, some brands use mushroom extracts.
When purchasing mushroom supplements, customers should always look for extracts made from the fruiting bodies of the fungus. This information should be noted on the brand's website. Furthermore, brands that publish certificates of analysis (or provide them on request) are generally much more reliable.
As a last resort, remember to read online third-party reviews to see how other customers found the company. With the correct information, you can make an informed decision and get a mushroom supplement that works for you.