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The "mycelium vs. fruiting body" controversy is certainly something you've run across about the advantages of functional mushrooms. Let's dive in.

Mycelium Vs. Mushroom Fruiting Body

The “mycelium vs. fruiting body” controversy is certainly something you’ve run across while reading about the advantages of functional mushrooms. You’re probably wondering things like: Is one better than the other? Should I use supplements that utilize the entire mushroom?

It’s best to be as well-informed as you can be when choosing which functional mushroom products to buy.

The stem and cap that come to mind when you think of a mushroom are the fruiting body, which is the reproductive component of the organism. Under the surface, a network of mycelial fibers supports and produces the fruiting body. Over the mushroom’s entire life cycle, each of these structures serves a specific function. They also provide a few unique benefits for people looking to get the most out of a mushroom supplement.

The idea that a mushroom’s fruiting body is the only component that has any value is untrue, despite the fact that it is the part that is most easily recognized. Consider lion’s mane, which is thought to contain nutrients that support the health of the nervous system and brain activity. The fruiting body and the mycelium contain different chemicals, according to research. The health benefits of lion’s mane are greatest when both of the mushroom’s sections are consumed rather than just one.

Hericenones were separated from the fruiting body and erinacines were isolated from the mycelium for a study to investigate the effects of substances found in lion’s mane. The study’s findings are listed below:

The substances were discovered to encourage the formation of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the cultured astrocytes from the examined animals (cells in the central nervous system).
The levels of NGF released into the medium in the presence of the compounds from the mycelium were more than those from the fruiting body, but both had a discernible impact, the researchers found by isolating and examining the effects of each chemical separately.

From this study, it can be inferred that the greatest NGF support occurs when compounds from both the fruiting body and mycelium are combined.

The benefits of each growing stage are highlighted in this article, along with myths about the mycelium and the fruiting body, the quality of mushroom supplements, and how to use the entire mushroom.

Myths About the Mycelium vs. Fruiting Body: Debunking

Regarding mushroom supplements, there is a lot of contradictory information—and, to be honest, misinformation. You should feel more prepared when choosing mushroom adaptogen supplements if you are aware of the mushroom life cycle and cultivation methods.

Myth: Mycelium-containing products are simply “a bag of grains or oats.”

While some mushrooms are grown on organic rice or oats that are edible, this does not necessarily guarantee that the completed product contains these ingredients, at least not in the same form. The nutritional substrate of the oats is consumed and broken down by mushroom mycelia as they expand. The mycelia are nourished by oats as they advance to the following developmental stage.

The oats have finished breaking down by the time the entire mushroom, including the fruiting body and mycelium, is harvested. All phases of the mushroom’s life cycle may be utilized when grown on an edible substrate, including the:

  • Fruiting body
  • Mycelium
  • Extracellular compounds produced by the mycelium that diffuse into the substrate (enzymes, polysaccharides, secondary metabolites)
  • Myceliated substrate (an inseparable matrix of mycelium and remnants of the fermented, enzymatically-converted oats that the mushrooms were grown on)


The fruiting body’s thicker, supporting walls contain prebiotic fiber that promotes digestive health.

Depending on the species and growing conditions, fruiting bodies provide essential nutrients (protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals) in variable amounts.

Many mushroom species’ fruiting bodies may include bioactive substances with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as polysaccharides, indoles, polyphenols, and carotenoids.

In addition to trace elements like copper, iron, selenium, and zinc, fruiting bodies are a good source of the macrominerals potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. They contain less sodium.

Several species’ fruiting bodies contain active substances that are absent from their mycelia.

Fruiting bodies lack the mycelia’s potent extracellular components.


Mycelia have thin, porous cell walls that permit nutrients to enter and enzymes to exit. Mycelia are easier for people to stomach as a result.

The majority of the mushroom’s life cycle duties are carried out by the mycelium, including the production of enzymes needed to digest the nutrients in its surroundings, defense against invading species, and the development of fruiting bodies. Even when the fruiting body has faded, it continues.

Mycelial mass can be grown by fermentation utilizing a solid substrate since it mimics the growth of the organism in its natural habitat. This carefully managed technique makes it simpler to eliminate impurities that call for high-temperature processing that could render nutrients inactive.

Certain mycelia contain healthy nutritional substances that are absent from their fruiting bodies.

The Stages of Mushroom Growth: Special Advantages Along the Way

In the natural world, mushrooms and other fungi play an important role in maintaining the environment. The critical nutrients from decomposing and recycling dead organic waste are returned to the soil via the key enzymes they produce. The by-products of this decomposition make functional mushrooms a special superfood to consume. 

The life cycle of a mushroom contains three separate phases: spores, mycelium, and fruiting body.


When mature fruiting bodies release their tiny spores, mushrooms reproduce. Spores fall to the ground or a supporting substrate (growth environment) like plant seeds and sprout within a few days or weeks. To start consuming nutrition, the spores develop tiny mycelial threads called hyphae.

A functioning mycelial unit, on the other hand, must be formed by two compatible hyphae that were generated from different types of spores, as opposed to a seed, which already has everything needed to establish a new plant. (Consider a sperm cell and an egg, or a positive and a negative magnetic end.)

Mycelium & Fruiting Body

A functional mycelial unit is created when two hyphae that are in the same growth environment come into contact with one another. Mycelia of mushrooms need a substrate that they can consume and break down. This is most frequently dead organic matter from plants and animals in the natural world. Clean, organic substrates like oats or rice are frequently utilized in indoor growing.

Enzymes and other materials are produced by the mycelium as it develops to aid in digestion and nutrition absorption. Some of these bioactive substances seep into the environment or growth media and stay there. Because of this, eating mycelial biomass offers the advantages of both the mycelium and the substrate itself, as well as the extracellular chemicals that have diffused into the substrate from the mycelium.


Primordia, or young mushrooms, are produced by the mycelium as it develops and differentiating and will eventually mature into a fruiting body. The hyphal knot changes as it expands and matures, becoming a pinhead or primordium before maturing into a fruiting body. A fruiting body reaches maturity in a matter of days; the cap opens and spews millions of spores.

Despite being a transient stage of the mushroom life cycle, the fruiting body has strong and sturdy cell walls that can support its weight. The fruiting body is frequently processed into an extract, which may have fewer compounds than whole mushroom powders that contain all of the elements of the mushroom life cycle, in order to obtain nutrients like beta-glucans from this difficult-to-digest tissue.

Mushroom  Adaptogen Extracts vs. Whole Mushroom Supplements

Functional mushroom adaptogen products come in a variety of forms. Extracts and powders made entirely of mushrooms are two of the most widely available. These formulations vary both in terms of what they contain and how they are made. When choosing to incorporate a mushroom adaptogen supplement into your routine, both factors may have an impact on your decision because they will both affect the bioavailability of the components in the finished product.

The entire mushroom life cycle is included in whole food mushrooms.
The whole spectrum of natural nutrients, as well as the mycelium and fruiting bodies
Beta-glucans, anti-oxidants, non-soluble prebiotic fiber, digestive enzymes, proteins, vitamins, and other distinct bioactive substances
Extracts usually only from the fruiting body
The procedure involves soaking the mushrooms in a hot water or alcohol solution for a long time in order to extract and concentrate certain chemicals using solvent processing, spray drying, and/or solvent precipitation.
Other bioactive substances like non-soluble fiber, proteins, vitamins, and digestive enzymes could be wasted.
High processing temperatures have the potential to denature several bioactive chemicals.

Mycelium and/or fruit bodies from mushrooms are cooked at a high temperature to extract water-soluble chemicals, or they can be cooked in alcohol to obtain alcohol-soluble compounds. Although alcohol will be eliminated from the finished product, the mushroom components may be processed (or extracted) numerous times in water and then once more in alcohol. To obtain a powder with the necessary concentration of advantageous compounds like beta-glucans, the extract is subsequently concentrated by eliminating the solvents (water or alcohol). Alcohol extracts can be supplied as a powder or as a dry liquid with a dropper dispenser. In either scenario, the extracted heat-stable, soluble chemicals will still be present in the final product.

A totally distinct product that underwent less processing is whole mushroom powder. Both the fruiting body and the mycelial biomass are collected, cooked with steam to weaken the chitinous cell walls, and then dried using heated and filtered air. The mushroom components are then ground into a fine powder, exposing more surface area and improving the powder’s digestibility. The whole nutritional value of the macro- and micronutrients, as well as the bioactive ingredients and prebiotic fiber, are all present in whole mushroom powder and are all present in a bioavailable form.

Is Quality Relative for Mushroom Complex Supplements?

Quality varies depending on a number of variables for mushroom supplements. As bio-accumulators and decomposers, mushrooms have the potential to absorb and assimilate environmental pollutants. The cultivation and manufacturing facilities where mushrooms are cultivated and processed set the bar for quality.

We reduce toxins by using indoor farms that are environmentally regulated and have purified water and air. Mycologists with extensive experience must be closely supervised to guarantee accurate species identification and optimal cultivation techniques. Customers can be convinced that the highest quality control requirements have been upheld because the process is monitored from beginning to end in compliance with BRCGS international food safety standards.

When it comes to the components of a mushroom complex supplement, quality could be subjective. Determine the contents of a product by reading the label and comprehending what it contains.

A product that solely contains the mycelium is quite different from one that also contains an extract of the fruiting body. Think of the fruiting body as an apple and the mycelium as an orange to make a relative comparison. Both offer advantages that are frequently different and particularly significant. Yet, a product manufactured from the entire mushroom—rather than just the mycelium or the fruiting body—gives you the advantages of both; it’s comparable to receiving apples and oranges. You can choose the product based on the benefits by reading the tiny print and comprehending these distinctions to assist you make informed decisions.

Accessing the Beneficial Compounds in the Whole Mushroom

In essence, it shouldn’t be “mycelium vs. fruiting body” since both contain essential bioactive components and minerals to promote an active lifestyle. A mushroom product containing the mycelial biomass (mycelium, myceliated substrate, and extracellular substances) and the fruiting body, dried and powdered, will deliver the best that each stage has to offer for many beneficial mushroom species, including lion’s mane and reishi. A whole mushroom product gives you access to all of the polysaccharides, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, amino acids, and prebiotic fiber that are included in these special fungi. 

Whole food, organic mushrooms with game-changing health benefits are available at Simply. While our goods are produced in the United States in accordance with the strict BRCGS guidelines, they are grown indoors to guarantee that we only use the safest and most effective species. For this, bioreactor bags must be used to grow our mushrooms on a substrate. With this technique, we can produce completely mature fruiting bodies in the majority of species.


In conclusion you can obviously see there are benefits to both mycelia of the mushroom as well as the mushroom fruiting body. If force to absolutely choose ONLY one or the other, the fruiting body of the mushroom would contain more beneficial compounds. However, when choosing a mushroom complex or mushroom extract supplement it is best to find one with the correct ratio of fruiting body : mycelium, which is typically around 10:1. 

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