What Mushroom is AHCC Made From?
AHCC is a nutritional supplement produced from the mycelia of shiitake mushrooms or Lentinula edodes. These mushrooms are native to East Asia and have been popular in the cuisines of many Eastern countries for hundreds of years. Thanks to modern cultivation techniques, it can now also be commonly found in North American supermarkets and restaurants.
Recently, the chemicals found in shiitake mushrooms have been researched and analyzed for their various potential medicinal properties.
What is a Shiitake Mushroom?
The shiitake mushroom itself has often been said to look like a “burnt vampire marshmallow,” as with its brown convex-shaped cap. Typically, the outside of the cap may be speckled with white spots or cracks. The inner part of the mushroom, along with the stem and the gills, are white. They grow to be around 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters) in size.
In the Japanese language, the word “shiitake” is composed of two parts: “shii,” which is Japanese for the Castanopsis cuspidata tree that often provides the dead logs or tree stumps that these mushrooms are often found growing on, and “take,” which is Japanese for the word “mushroom.”
The shiitake mushroom is also known in China as “hsaing ku,” or “fragrant mushroom,” thanks to their strong, earthy flavor. It is also known as the Black Forest Mushroom.
Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Considered Nutritious?
Shiitake mushrooms are low in calories. They also contain a healthy amount of fiber, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds.
The nutrients in 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (approximately 15 grams), are:
- Calories: 44
- Carbohydrates: 11 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Riboflavin: 11% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDV)
- Niacin: 11% of the RDV
- Copper: 39% of the RDV
- Vitamin B5: 33% of the RDV
- Selenium: 10% of the RDV
- Manganese: 9% of the RDV
- Zinc: 8% of the RDV
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
- Folate: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin D: 6% of the DV
Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Considered Healthy?
It has been suggested that shiitake mushrooms contain certain molecules that can boost heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, such as eritadenine, sterols, and beta-glucans.* One study using lab rats fed a high-fat diet demonstrated that rats given shiitake powder developed lower cholesterol levels, less plaque on their artery walls, and less fat in their lives, in comparison to rats that didn’t eat any mushrooms.
It is also possible for shiitake mushrooms to help strengthen the immune system.* In one study, people were given two dried shiitake mushrooms daily. After 30 days, their immune markers had improved, and their inflammation levels dropped. One proposed hypothesis gives this credit to one of the polysaccharides present in shiitake mushrooms, heteropolysaccharide L2, which significantly enhances immune response by differentially affecting the expression of immune system-related genes.*
It is important to note that the extents of all of these studies are limited, as most relevant studies have been done in animals and test tubes rather than people, or have not been fully clinically proven. Though the proposed benefits are promising, more research is needed.
What’s the Best Way to Consume Shiitake Mushrooms?
When cooking shiitake mushrooms, it is best to separate the caps from the stems, since the stems are tougher and can take a little longer to cook. Both can still be used together in the same dish, so long as the stems receive more cooking time.
Two simple ways to prepare shiitake mushrooms are by sautéing them or adding them to a stir-fry.
In the United States, dried shiitake mushrooms are also available at most supermarkets and Asian grocery stores, though they typically have a more intense flavor, and can last for months or years in the pantry. They are prepared by soaking in hot water to rehydrate, and then cooked as one would with fresh shiitake mushrooms.
These methods of cooking ensure that the health-promoting properties of shiitake mushrooms remain intact and ready to consume.
However, as delicious as it may be to try and include shiitake in more of your recipes, you won’t receive nearly as much of the benefits that shiitake has to offer in cooking it versus regularly consuming it in supplement form.
What is AHCC?
AHCC is a nutritional supplement extracted from the mycelia of shiitake mushrooms and is used with the aim of improving general immune system well-being. They often come in vegicap form, which includes both the AHCC and other active ingredients.
AHCC is used by an estimated 1,000 clinics worldwide and has been shown to:
- Maintain optimal NK cell activity*
- Enhance cytokine production*
- Promote optimal T-cell activity*
- Promote optimal macrophage activity*
- Increase the activity & number of dendritic cells*
AHCC was first developed by Dr. Toshihiko Okamoto (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Tokyo) and Amino Up Chemical Co., LTD. in 1989.
Quality of Life’s AHCC® - Kinoko Platinum includes a proprietary blend of Mycelia extract of hybridized basidiomycetes (Lentinula edodes) mushrooms (with acetylated alpha-glucans), carnauba plant wax, dextrin (tapioca), cellulose (plant), and alpha-cyclodextrin (vegetable). Each capsule delivers 750 mg of AHCC, making it easy to reach the 3 g recommended daily dosage during times of heightened immune challenges (suggested use: 2-4 vegicaps daily before meals).
Why Should I Take AHCC?
The immune system is very complex. If it’s underactive, your defenses are low, and your body is more susceptible to foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. However, if it’s overactive, your immune system may attack your own body.
The immune system is also very sensitive and can be impacted by outside factors that we have little control of, such as stress. Some proven ways to boost the immune system are through exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep. However, it can be difficult to maintain these in the hectic schedules of our lives.
As one of the world’s most researched specialty immune supplements, AHCC offers the ability to improve immune system health.* Unlike the majority of other mushroom extracts, AHCC has a very low molecular weight of just 5,000 daltons, and is rich in alpha-glucans, increasing absorption and efficacy.*
Where Can I Get AHCC?
AHCC is available for online purchase at Quality of Life®.
Quality of Life® was established in 1998, with the mission of providing American consumers with access to AHCC and other life-changing nutraceutical ingredients. For more than a decade, Quality of Life® has been dedicated to bringing clinically backed ingredients from all over the world to the U.S. market, looking to transform the lives of American consumers looking into nutritional supplements.
Quality of Life® offers two different AHCC products: Kinoko Gold (500 mg of AHCC per capsule) and Kinoko Platinum (750 mg of AHCC per capsule). Both are composed of the same raw ingredients, focusing on delivering quality AHCC by vegicapsule to the body. Both products are dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, magnesium stearate-free, vegetarian, and packaged in the United States.
Quality of Life® is also proud to have taken the Natural Products Foundation “Truth in Advertising” Pledge, a formal commitment to disseminating only truthful, non-misleading, and substantiated information.
How is AHCC Different From Other Mushroom-Based Supplements?
While there are other medicinal mushroom extracts that offer general health-boosting properties, AHCC is unique because of its very low molecular weight of 5,000 daltons, and its richness in alpha-glucans, which increases its absorption and efficacy.* Along with a wide variety of supporting research, it has been used by hundreds of clinics across the world.
How is AHCC Extracted From Shiitake Mushrooms?
AHCC is made from shiitake mushrooms’ mycelia, which look like little hairs. These mycelia are cultured in an antiviral-rich rice bran extract until it forms a visible colony. It is then cultured for an additional 45 to 60 days. The final extraction consists of a complex series of steps that involve further cultivation, enzyme decomposition, sterilization, concentration, and freeze-drying into powder for use in capsules or other delivery systems.
Over thousands of mushrooms are reviewed as a part of this process, which is uniquely manufactured by Amino Up Co., Ltd. in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Japan.
Can Somebody With Mushroom Allergies Take AHCC?
Most mushroom allergies are a result of the human body’s immune system recognizing mushroom spores as foreign proteins, thus causing the release of histamine--which causes people to have allergy symptoms. However, AHCC is made from the mycelia of the shiitake mushroom, which does not contain any spores.
Furthermore, the extraction process of AHCC from the shiitake mushroom breaks down most complex molecular structures into simpler ones that would typically not cause any kind of immune system reaction. However, it would be best to contact a healthcare professional to make the best decision for someone with mushroom allergies to take AHCC.
Can Somebody Take AHCC With Other Medications?
AHCC is metabolized via a pathway called “P450 2D6,” an enzyme primarily expressed in the liver. It is estimated that this enzyme is responsible for the metabolism and elimination of approximately 25% of clinically used drugs, meaning that AHCC can potentially interact with the absorption of other drugs that use this same pathway.
Therefore, if you are taking other medication and are concerned about the viability of taking AHCC with that medication, it is recommended that you ask a medical professional about the potential interactions between AHCC and your medication--particularly if the medication is metabolized through the “P450 2D6” enzyme pathway.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.