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Functional Mushroom Benefits: Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body

Article at a Glance:

  • Not all functional mushroom supplements are derived from the same parts of a mushroom, which can impact the concentration of bioactive components.
  • Mycelium is a branching, root-like structure of a fungus, while a fruiting body is a mushroom that develops from the mycelium.
  • Fruiting bodies may have greater concentrations of bioactive components, including beta-glucans.

Functional mushrooms are types of mushrooms known to have certain bioactive compounds and health benefits beyond their nutrient content. Because these superfood mushrooms can be hard to get regularly from food, a dietary supplement can be a convenient solution.

Unfortunately, not all functional mushroom supplements are the same. Instead of being made with the most potent ingredients, some are made with fillers and ingredients that may not be as effective for the benefits you seek.

When looking for a functional mushroom dietary supplement, knowing which parts of the fungus are included is essential to get the most bioactive ingredients.

What are the differences between mycelium and fruiting bodies? How do those differences impact the benefits of functional mushroom supplements?

What is the Mycelium?

The mycelium of a fungus is a root-like structure made of multiple small, branching filaments called hyphae. Mycelium is germinated from mushroom spores dispersed by water, wind, rain, or animals. 

Unlike the roots of most traditional plants, mycelium can be part of a communication network connecting fungi to various plants of different species. These connections allow plants to share nutrients throughout the network. [1]

Mycelium can produce fruiting bodies, but this process depends on the fungi's surrounding environmental factors.

    What is a Fruiting Body?

    The fruiting body of a fungus is what we generally consider a mushroom. A fruiting body is the reproductive structure of fungi and produces spores that can spread and create new mycelium.

    Mushroom development from a mycelium depends on several environmental conditions, including changes in nutrient availability, weather, or even the density of plants and fungi in an area.

      What Are The Differences in Bioactive Components?

      When getting functional mushroom supplements, check the Supplement Facts label to see if your supplement is made from the mycelium or fruiting body.

      Both mycelium and fungal fruiting bodies provide amino acids, polysaccharides, micronutrients, and antioxidants such as carotenoids, ergosterol, tocopherols, and phenolic compounds.[2]

      However, the fruiting bodies of fungi typically have a greater concentration of nutrients, beta-glucans, and antioxidants when compared to mycelium.  

      Beta-glucan is a type of polysaccharide that naturally occurs in plants and fungi. It not only functions as a prebiotic that supports the gut microbiota but is also a dietary fiber with antioxidant activity.[3]

      Research finds that beta-glucans can help support immune function, enhance cognition and mood, support energy levels, and possibly increase memory. [3,4,5] 

      That being said, mushroom varieties differ in how their nutrients are concentrated. Many mushroom varieties have more nutrients in their fruiting body, while some contain unique nutrients in both mycelium and fruiting bodies.

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      Now that you know the differences between mycelium and fruiting bodies consider choosing functional mushroom supplements made with the most bioactive ingredients. Fungies® makes it easy with a line of functional mushroom dietary supplements for peak performance.



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      1. Fricker MD, Heaton LLM, Jones NS, Boddy L. Microbiol Spectr. 2017;5(3):10.1128/microbiolspec.FUNK-0033-2017.
      2. Dimopoulou M, Kolonas A, Mourtakos S, Androutsos O, Gortzi O. (2022). Applied Sciences. 2022; 12. 8074.
      3. Ciecierska A, Drywień ME, Hamulka J, Sadkowski T. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2019;70(4):315-324.
      4. Vlassopoulou M, Yannakoulia M, Pletsa V, Zervakis GI, Kyriacou A. Food Funct. 2021;12(8):3366-3380.
      5. Vetvicka V, Vannucci L, Sima P, Richter J. Molecules. 2019;24(7):1251.