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AHCC®: The Ultimate Guide


Medically reviewed by Jimmy Salas Rushford
Written by Quality of Life – Updated on March 3, 2021


 At Quality of Life®, we view health and accessibility as a priority. We consistently tackle finding ways to support the ever-complex immune system by curating natural health solutions for others.

To understand the powerful components behind our leading supplements, let’s take a comprehensive look into one of our extracts, AHCC®.

Read on to learn more about:

  • The history of AHCC®
  • AHCC® Benefits

AHCC® Supplementation

What is AHCC?
Brief History of AHCC
What are the benefits of AHCC?
What are these components of the immune system?
What is the Highest Quality Type of AHCC?
Our AHCC Supplements
So should I take AHCC supplements?
What makes AHCC unique?
Is AHCC safe to ingest?
How is AHCC Studied?
How do I take AHCC safely?
Can children and elderly patients take AHCC?
What if I am allergic to mushrooms?
Can I give my animals AHCC, such as dogs and cats?
Can I take AHCC on a general basis to boost my immune system even if I am not sick?

What is AHCC®?

brown and white mushrooms on brown wooden surface

AHCC® is a natural substance derived from the mycelia of the basidiomycetes family, specifically from the shiitake mushrooms. The alpha-glucans of the mushrooms serve as the driving force behind its immune-boosting capabilities by moderating the production of immune cells*. In its supplement form, AHCC® is commonly used for its antioxidative and immunoprotective properties.* 

The AHCC® benefits are supported by over 30 human studies and by more than 100 pre-clinical in vivo and in vitro studies, and it is utilized by over 1,000 healthcare facilities globally to provide immune supporting benefits at a cellular level.*

Premier AHCC Supplements

Brief History of AHCC®

Where do medicinal mushrooms come from?

Historically, the usage of medicinal mushrooms has been rooted in the Eastern tradition. This philosophy is based on upholding overall good health to preventatively protect one’s immune health. 

Our immune system is our best and the first line of defense against infections such as colds and flus and chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. It has only been relatively recently that Western civilizations have adopted such practices. 

Where was AHCC® created?

In 1989, AHCC® was created by Japanese biotechnology company Amino Up Chemical Co., LTD. with the efforts of Dr. Toshihiko Okamoto

Since then, AHCC® has been used as a supplement for patients all over the world to boost their immune health. AHCC® has been integrated into the Western market, namely the United States, as we continue to search for effective remedies to maintain our health and well-being. 

How is AHCC® made?

As mentioned, all AHCC® is sourced from Japan by Amino Up Chemical Co. Ltd and is available as fine, soft granules in capsules and as a liquid. The manufacturing process involves a patented series of steps and ingredients under the highest HAACP-9000 quality control standards. 

Here is how AHCC® is developed: 

  1. Shiitake mushrooms are deliberately grown and harvested.
  2. Several hybrids from the Basidiomycota phylum of fungi are carefully selected. 
  3. The mycelia, or hair-like subterranean root structures of the mushrooms, are cultured in a rice bran extract in order to form a colony.
  4. The colony is cultured for an additional 45 to 60 days. 
  5. The colony processes through cultivation, decomposition by enzymes, sterilization, concentration, and freeze-drying in order to get ready for consumption and distribution.

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What are the benefits of AHCC®?

A healthy immune system is fundamental in keeping us well. AHCC® turns up the dial on our natural immune response in the following ways:* 

  • Increases cytokine production*
  • Increases the activity & number of dendritic cells: Dendritic cells mediate the cellular immune response and support the body’s cytokine production*
  • Maintains optimal NK cell activity: NK or “natural killer” cells are the soldiers of the immune system. They are a specialized group of cells that play a critical role in attacking foreign invaders and helping to keep your body healthy.*
  • Promotes optimal macrophage activity: Macrophages are cells involved in the destruction of bacteria and play an essential role in healing.*
  • Promotes optimal T-cell activity*
  • Has strong calming properties in the digestive system and other parts of the body*
  • Promotes white blood cell production*

As researchers conduct more studies on the potential AHCC® benefits and it becomes more popular in Western society, scientists are optimistic to discover more applications. 

What are these components of the immune system? 

As the benefits listed, AHCC® can support your immune system response. Within our immune system, cytokines, T cells, and NK cells are vital to protect you against invasive attacks from foreign agents.

Cytokines: Signaling Immune Cells

Cytokines are proteins that play an important role in cell signaling within the human immune system, and AHCC® increases the function and activity of cytokine molecules. 

These particular signaler molecules latch onto cell receptors throughout the body and direct them to where they need to go or what to do. By coordinating other helper cells, cytokines avert malicious microorganisms that may pose a threat to your immune system. Cytokines form a coordinated detection of dangerous cells and attack such cells. They band together to form a defense against harmful threats to the body. 

Thus, since AHCC® promotes cytokine production, a healthy immune system response is supported as a result.*

T Cells: Invade and Kill Bad Cells

T Cells are the first line of defense that identifies and exterminates compromised cells in our body, producing surplus cytokines. AHCC’s positive correlation with T-cell activity corresponds to why the supplement is becoming increasingly popular.*

Increasing the production of T cells allows our immune systems to respond and eliminate harmful bodily cell invaders. AHCC® is correlated to enhanced body creation of a subset of T cells known as regulatory T cells.* Regulatory T cells support long-term immunity by replicating within the body. 

Consequently, it is essential to examine a holistic approach to strengthening healthy immune function, which is where AHCC® supplements come in through regular intake. 

NK Cells: The Natural Killer Cells

NK cells are able to infiltrate the membrane of malicious cells to eliminate them from within and serve as a vital part of our immune system that keeps us healthy on an everyday basis. 

AHCC® supports these NK cells by increasing NK cell production and efficacy.* In this way, we are able to maintain yet another line of defense in our immune response!

What is the Highest Quality Type of AHCC®? 

You may encounter various varieties of AHCC®. That’s why it’s essential to read the labels and determine if an AHCC® product is right for you. 

So, what makes up a premium AHCC® supplement?

  1. Proprietary, all-natural ingredients: Proprietary means that the company has rights to the main ingredients in the AHCC® supplements. Proprietary supplements typically contain premium ingredients, and the manufacturer is sourcing from limited, if not one, supplier to ensure consistency and quality.
  2. Easy-to-take and diet considerations: The best products are all-natural, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and magnesium-stearate-free to accommodate those who may have celiac disease, sensitivity, or other allergies. Getting an AHCC® product that adheres to these line items is ideal to ensure consistent quality and thoughtful production.
  3. Optimal dosage: A typical daily dose of AHCC® is around three grams. Most AHCC® are sold in capsule form, so it is vital to note the amount of milligrams per pill to ensure the correct dosage. Stay away from manufacturers who try to put the full three grams into one capsule because that will prevent the effects of AHCC® from being spread out. 

Luckily, Quality of Life® checks off the above guidelines. Quality of Life® products are composed of the same raw ingredients, with the capability of delivering quality AHCC® by vegicap to the body. QOL’s products all contain clearly labeled appropriate dosages spread out among the pills. Aligned with QOL’s mission and vision to provide consumers with accessible natural dietary supplements, both products are dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, magnesium stearate free, vegetarian, and are packaged and shipped in the United States. 

Our AHCC® Supplements 

Quality of Life® distributes only quality, premier AHCC® products:

Our Premier AHCC Products

So should I take AHCC® supplements?

To sum up all of our key points, yes! For those looking for an extra bit of immune system support, AHCC® is a fantastic way to go! 

As the common saying goes, “If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” A healthier immune system often means a happier, healthier livelihood. 

Now more than ever, maintaining a healthy immune system is crucial in protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Because AHCC® has soothing, immune system enhancing, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties, it is widely acknowledged as providing you the extra immune system boost you may need to thrive and live well in today’s busy and unpredictable world.* 

As Eastern medicine continues to influence Western medicine, it’s important to consult with your primary care provider before starting any supplement. 

Additionally, it’s key that you ensure your supplements meet high-quality requirements by purchasing from a company like Quality of Life, who can back every ingredient through laboratory studies, delivered in dosages consistent with clinical research!

What makes AHCC® unique?

As you may know, the health and wellness industry today is saturated with all sorts of supplements available, boasting to help with one thing or another.

So what makes AHCC® different? 

While there are other medical mushroom extracts with beneficial nutrients, AHCC® is the product of special processing of carefully selected mushrooms. It has a particularly low molecular weight of around 5,000 daltons and is rich in alpha-glucans. These properties allow AHCC® to be absorbed and digested easier.* These unique components also have a powerful immune-stimulating action not found in ordinary mushrooms or other mushroom products. *

Additionally, AHCC’s effectiveness is backed by a variety of clinical research studies, and its immune system support makes it an excellent supplement to add to a daily routine.* While AHCC® may not be popular in Western cultures quite yet, Eastern cultures have recognized and benefited from its immune-boosting properties for decades.*

Is AHCC® safe to ingest? 

AHCC® has been used in more than 20 countries for more than 20 years and has undergone various clinical trials.*

The safety of AHCC® has been corroborated in three ways:

1) Through historical context of the mushroom families being ingested safely since the ancient times

2) Through observation of its use in clinical settings and clinical trials

3) Animal studies show very low toxic potential in both acute dose and long-term studies 

Note that most AHCC® products contain a disclaimer that these supplements are something to consider adding to your diet to maintain better overall health, specifically for your immune system. Also, you should always consult your medical practitioner, especially when you’re taking other medications, to prevent potential drug interactions.

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How AHCC® is Studied?

man in white shirt using white sewing machine

Scientists face challenges in researching health solutions in the realm of ethics, reliability, and practicality, and it is difficult to evaluate the immune response sometimes. However, researchers are able to perform studies examining animal models to compare the efficacy of AHCC®, as well as human clinical trials to demonstrate the ability of AHCC® to affect multiple aspects of the immune system.* 

Specifically, in biomedical research, studies have been conducted on mice for their structural similarity to humans. These studies are designed to accurately reproduce the same strains and examine identical variables because of this similarity. 

ThusAHCC® has undergone a combination of human clinical studies, animal models, and human case reports in backing findings for AHCC®. Most recently, AHCC® was discovered to enhance protective immune response.

How do I take AHCC® safely? 

When taken by mouth appropriately in recommended amounts, doses of AHCC® ranging from 4.5 to 6 grams daily have been used safely for up to 6 months. However, a typical lower dose (3 grams daily) appears to be safe for long-term use.

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Can children and elderly patients take AHCC®?

Children are able to take AHCC®, but the dosage should be reduced up to 50 percent as it corresponds to lower body weight. As for elderly patients, the dose should similarly correspond with their physical condition and be implemented into their daily routines gradually to account for sensitive digestive systems. AHCC® can be safely mixed with honey or yogurt for easier ingestion. 

What if I am allergic to mushrooms? 

Mushroom allergies result from exposure to spores which sit at the top of the mushroom, but AHCC® derives from the mycelia, which are located at the roots. Consequently, you should not experience any allergy issues. However, it is always important to consult your primary care provider before adding anything new to your diet.

Can I give my animals AHCC®, such as dogs and cats?

Our companion animals are often considered family, and when they develop health conditions, some may turn to alternative medicine. 

For a large pet (75 lbs), it is safe to administer a daily maintenance dosage of between 500mgs-1gram and a therapeutic dosage of 1.5 grams to 3 grams. For a small pet (32lbs), administer a daily maintenance dosage of 250-500 mgs, or a therapeutic dosage of 750 mgs-1.5 grams. 

Can I take AHCC® on a general basis to boost my immune system even if I am not sick?

Yes. Because of AHCC®’s antioxidative properties, it provides extra holistic support to your immune system for even those in good health. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.


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