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What is AHCC® Mushroom-Based Supplement 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. 

Here’s what you’ll discover:

  • Reasons why Shiitake Mushrooms are considered nutritious and healthy
  • The benefits of taking AHCC® and differences from other mushroom-based supplements
  • Where can you buy AHCC® mushroom supplements

Recently, the chemicals found in shiitake mushrooms have been researched and analyzed for their various potential medicinal properties.

INDEX
What is a Shiitake Mushroom?
Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Considered Nutritious?
Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Considered Healthy?
What’s the Best Way to Consume Shiitake Mushrooms?
What is AHCC®?
Why Should I Take AHCC®?
Where Can I Get AHCC®?
How is AHCC® Different From Other Mushroom-Based Supplements?
How is AHCC® Extracted From Shiitake Mushrooms?
Can Somebody With Mushroom Allergies Take AHCC®?
Can Somebody Take AHCC® With Other Medications?

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What is a Shiitake Mushroom?

Shiitake mushrooms in hands on blue background, close-up. stock photo

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:

  1.  “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.
  2. take,” which is Japanese for the word “mushroom.”

In China, the word “shiitake” is also known as:

  1. hsaing ku,” or “fragrant mushroom,” thanks to their strong, earthy flavor.
  2. 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

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Why Are Shiitake Mushrooms Considered Healthy?

There are many different types of mushrooms, and each has its own set of health benefits. Shiitake mushrooms are no different, and there are two reasons why they are considered to be a healthy food choice.

It contains certain molecules that can boost heart health by lowering cholesterol levels.

Shiitake mushrooms have been suggested to 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 compared to rats that didn’t eat mushrooms.

Human heart with ecg graph stock photo

It strengthens 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. This significantly enhances immune response by differentially affecting the expression of immune system-related genes.

Important note: 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?

preparing food

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.

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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 cooking methods ensure that shiitake mushrooms' health-promoting properties 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 many 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

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AHCC® Overview

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)
  • 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).

You can learn more about Quality of Life® and its dedication to providing the population with science-backed nutritional supplements HERE.

Why Should I Take AHCC®?

One tablet a day keeps the doctor away

The human 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.

Here are three reasons to take AHCC®:

  • 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.
  • Rich in alpha-glucans, increasing absorption and efficacy.

Where Can I Get AHCC®?

You can get AHCC® online. However, it is important to note that not all online sources for AHCC® are reputable.

When looking for a source of AHCC®, be sure to check that the website is credible and offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee. AHCC® is available for online purchase at Quality of Life®.

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Getting AHCC® 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.
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • GMO-free
  • Magnesium stearate-free
  • Vegetarian
  • 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?

Chinese Herbal Medicine with Mortor and Pestle on Wood Hz

While other medicinal mushroom extracts offer general health-boosting properties, AHCC® is unique because of these reasons:

  • It has a very low molecular weight of 5,000 daltons
  • Its richness in alpha-glucans 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 mushroom 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 which involve:

  • cultivation
  • enzyme decomposition
  • sterilization
  • concentration
  • 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.

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Can Somebody With Mushroom Allergies Take AHCC®?

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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.

Doctor or physician writing diagnosis and giving a medical prescription to male Patient stock photo

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.

Take note: 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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