Not all mushroom products are made equal, so here's a quick guide for exactly what to look out for when purchasing a quality mushroom product.
Ever heard the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’?
Yes - well due to the lack of regulation around functional mushrooms currently within the EU, this statement definitely rings true. There is absolutely no reason that any mushroom product should ever contain any fillers or unnecessary bulking agents. The only reason it would, is to make the product cheaper to produce. Fillers can dilute the concentration of active compounds, diminishing their purity and effectiveness.
Additionally, some fillers may interfere with the bioavailability of these active compounds, affecting how well the body can absorb and utilise them. Eliminating fillers helps maintain optimal bioavailability, ensuring that users can derive maximum benefits from the mushroom supplement. Without fillers, the supplement can deliver a higher concentration of the beneficial compounds that contribute to the desired health effects, users can also better understand and control their intake of the active mushroom compounds, ensuring they meet their specific health goals without unnecessary additives.
If there is one aspect that will ensure that you get the most benefit from a mushroom product, it is the potency. Let’s explain the three things to look out for when analysing whether or not a product has sufficient potency.
Only using 100% Fruiting Body
The term ‘fruiting body’ refers to the part of the mushroom thatactually grows out of the ground, the rest of the mushroom, the part that grows underneath the ground,is called mycelium. As you can imagine, it is hard to source many of these mushrooms growing in thewild in their natural habitats. Many manufacturers will instead choose to cultivate the mushrooms on astarchy substrate, typically. There is nothing from with this method, as long as the fruiting body isseparated upon harvesting. However, a common practice is to grind down the entire product uponcompletion, mycelium and grain included. This significantly reduces the potency of the product as thevast majority of active compounds are only found in the fruiting body. If a mushroom product mentioned‘mycelium’ sir ‘myceliated grain’ it is probably best to steer clear.
Percentage of beta-Glucans
Beta-glucans are polysaccharides found in the cell walls of mushroomsit is these compounds that play a crucial role in the health-promoting properties of these fungi. Inmushroom products, the presence of sufficient beta-glucans is the key marker of quality. Whenselecting a mushroom product, consumers should look for those with a standardised beta-glucancontent, to ensure that they are receiving a sufficient dose of these beneficial compounds. All of ourmushroom products contain a standardised beta-glucan percentage of 30.
Milligrams of Mushroom
Of course, it is always better to focus on quality over quantity when it comesto the milligram quantity of mushroom per serving. However, some manufacturers just simply providetoo little. The active beta-glucan percentage will only ever be so high, and this is typically always below50%. So products offering 300-500mg of total mushroom per serving are just simply providing asub-standard product. Dependent on the contents of beta-glucans, always look for those mushroomproducts containing over 1000mg, but ideally 1500+. Each single Headstrong capsule contains a total2000mg, with 30% active beta-glucans, requiring you to only consume one individual capsule per day.
A good extraction method aims to provide a comprehensive profile of the mushroom's active compounds. Water extraction captures water-soluble polysaccharides, while alcohol extraction captures fat-soluble terpenes and triterpenoids. A combination of both methods, known as dual extraction, ensures a broader range of bioactive compounds. For any mushroom product to achieve its maximum bioavailability, a dual extraction method should be used, without this, you are getting much less value for money.
Many products sitting on the cheaper end of the spectrum won’t actually use any extraction method at all, with the product just consisting of dried mushroom ground into a fine powder and capsulated. For these products, the percentage of beneficial compounds that will reach the stomach in an active state is next to none, so any perceived ‘effect’ is most likely just a placebo.
Third party testing
Lack of product regulation has led to a bit of a grey area when it comes to what and what isn't the accepted standards for mushroom products. The downside of this is that new products can enter the market at free will without the legal obligation to run their products through external facilities. This can lead to poor quality alternatives within the market containing raw product grown in polluted air, or containing heavy metals.
Third-party testing is crucial for mushroom products, as it provides an independent assessment of the product's quality, safety, and adherence to specific standards. Third-party testing involves independent laboratories or organisations that are not affiliated with the manufacturer. This impartiality ensures that the testing facilities can verify whether or not the product meets established quality standards without the presence of bias or a conflict of interest. This verification process includes confirming the potency of active compounds, ensuring proper extraction methods, and checking for the absence of contaminants.
Additionally, manufacturers may make claims about the contents and benefits of their mushroom products without much scrutiny from the wider public. Third-party testing verifies whether these claims are accurate by analysing the actual composition of the supplement. This process helps prevent misrepresentation and ensures that consumers receive what is promised on the product label.
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