Mushroom extracts can also contain nutrients from the fruit body and mycelium. After harvesting, the desired species is dried, ground
Powder Vs Extract
If you’re seeking to maximize the amount of beta-glucans you are taking, without a doubt what you’ll want is an extract. As covered previously, extracts contain up to 15 times more beta-glucans than powders, and are much more easily absorbable due to no longer being bound to the rest of the mushroom. Extracts also typically contain a very high amount of novel antioxidants in comparison to powders, which help combat the negative effects of oxidative stressors (the primary cause of increased ageing in cells
Extract: The main appeal and benefits of extracts are two: better control over which elements remain in the final product, and very high yields of Beta-Glucans. Beta-Glucans can be up to 15 times more concentrated depending on the kind of mushroom in extracts when compared to powders. This is due to the long-term cooking extracts go through, which depending on the cooking method and mushroom, cause certain substances (and especially beta-glucans) to become eluted from the cellular matrix and therefore much more readily available and easier to absorb through digestion. Although this varied processing procedure causes specific contents (including many vitamins and minerals) to be lost, the main purpose is to have others, such as fungal polysaccharides, to become extremely concentrated instead, along with any other compounds of the mushroom which may have possible benefits. This does also mean that extracts are usually dosed lower than powders, since their elements are so highly concentrated by comparison. Extracts can also be safer to take (as long as the extract is done properly, so ensure any extracts you take come from a reputable/reliable source) than powders usually, since many cytotoxic compounds, along with other mild toxins certain mushrooms can have, are typically eliminated and/or destroyed during processing.
Differences in Mushroom Processing
While they may start with similar raw materials, the difference between whole mushroom powders and extracts begins with the processing of the mushrooms.
Whole mushroom powders involve the harvest of both the fruit body, the reproductive structure, and its mycelium, the vegetative stage of the mushroom life cycle. Once harvested, these components are heated to dehydrate them completely. The dried mushrooms are then milled or ground into a fine powder. This powder can contain both the fruit body and mycelium along with the myceliated growth medium that has been digested and become one with the mycelium. Depending on the brand and species, all or most of these components from the whole mushroom can be contained in the final product for increased mushroom powder benefits.
Mushroom extracts can also contain nutrients from the fruit body and mycelium. After harvesting, the desired species is dried, ground, and placed in a solvent. Hot water is used if water-soluble compounds are to be extracted; alcohol is used for alcohol-soluble compounds. After a period of time steeping in the liquid solvent, the mushrooms may be drained and the solvent retained. This process may be repeated several times, and the same mushrooms may be extracted in water and alcohol. Afterward, the mushroom solids are discarded. If alcohol was used, it is allowed to evaporate. The liquid containing the extracted compounds is cooked down to condense them to a standardized concentration. The extract may be sold in this liquid form or it may undergo further processing.
In some cases, a liquid extract containing mushroom compounds may be sprayed in a fine mist and dried to create a powder. Though the mushrooms were originally extracted in a liquid, the final product is now a powder. Oftentimes, this extracted powder won’t contain all or most of the mushroom’s components, however, since the solids were discarded earlier in the process. It contains only the extracted components.
Differences in Product Benefits
While their post-processing consistency may be similar, the differentiator between whole mushroom powder and extract powder is mainly their benefits. Consider these differences:
Whole Mushroom Powders Contain:
- Macronutrients: protein and complex carbohydrates
- Micronutrients: B vitamins and minerals like selenium, copper, iron, and potassium
- Antioxidants such as ergothioneine, glutathione, polyphenols, and superoxide dismutase
- Prebiotic fiber to support the immune system by contributing to a beneficial gut flora‡
- Beta-glucans, alpha-glucans, and other polysaccharides that support the immune system‡
- Additional bioactive compounds according to the species contained in the powder, including triterpenes, sterols, and peptides
Some species contain different bioactive compounds in their fruit bodies and mycelium. A whole mushroom powder that includes both components of the mushroom life cycle will provide the benefits of all of these compounds.
Mushroom Extract Powders Contain:
- Beta-glucans polysaccharides standardized to support immune function
- Other polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, triterpenoids or other myco-nutrients depending on the species and the specific extraction process
While there may be some active compounds like beta-glucans in high concentration in an extract powder, other benefits are often lost. The final contents will also depend on whether the extract was prepared from the fruit body, mycelium, or both.
Exploring the Uses of the Top Medicinal Mushrooms
The medicinal use of mushrooms dates back thousands of years because of their varied and uniquely adaptive benefits for health. Now, in recent times with functional medicine and holistic nutrition going mainstream, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in these marvelous superfoods. But, there are a few things you should know before running to your local supplement shop…
This article will encapsulate the top health benefits of 7 medicinal mushrooms, while also revealing why some mushroom supplements sold in today’s marketplace don’t contain mushrooms at all. And finally, it will explain how Real Mushrooms produces medicinal mushroom extracts for our supplements and what to shop for when you’re looking to get true high-quality mushroom supplement benefits.