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Comparison Between Fruiting Body and Mycelium – Which Is Better?

Comparison Between Fruiting Body and Mycelium – Which Is Better?

Feb 20, 2024


Andrey Kono

The importance of functional mushrooms for human bodies is undeniable. These mushrooms have been used in ancient medicines for more than a thousand years. These mushrooms have played a very crucial role in the development of ancient Chinese and ayurvedic medicines.

People are concerned about their fitness now more than ever. Therefore, they look for components that can complete their diet and benefit them miraculously. This brings their attention toward functional mushrooms.

Functional mushrooms help support different body functions and safeguard from various diseases. These also help in rapid recovery from diseases along with safeguarding from harmful bacteria.

Functional mushrooms may be consumed for nutritional benefits but these have an even brighter side. Their role in physical and mental well-being is remarkable. Have you seen a functional mushroom in its raw form? A mushroom is divided into two parts; a fruiting body and mycelium. Let us discuss these in detail to give you a better idea.

What is a Mushroom Fruiting Body?

Have you ever bought mushrooms from a supermarket? Those are the fruiting bodies of mushrooms. The fruiting body is part of the mushroom that stays above the soil. It includes the volva, scales, skirt, stem, gills, and mushroom cap.

Do you know what’s amazing? The fruiting body is the reproductive structure of a mushroom. It is the part that can be seen when you go for mushroom picking or cook mushrooms in your meal.

The reproductive function is really interesting in mushrooms. The fruiting body releases microspores in the air. These spores combine with substrates and develop new mycelium which gradually builds up a new fruiting body or what we call a mushroom.


What Actually is Mycelium in a Mushroom?

You might not know what a mycelium looks like. It is because mycelium is the hidden part of a mushroom. Just like plants, the roots of a plant are always hidden below the soil. A mycelium in a mushroom act like a root and are hidden below the soil.

A mycelium starts from right beneath the fruiting body and it further moves into soil. It feeds on plant matter during the mushroom’s life cycle. Using enzymes, it collects nutrients from the plant matter and supports the development of a mushroom.

Fun Fact: A mycelium network that is spread over 890 hectares is the largest organism on earth and is 2000 years old.

One more interesting thing about mycelium is that some of the mycelia can connect with other plants' roots and collect nutrients from them. These develop a symbiotic relationship with other plants. These mycelia connect plants across the forest and in return take sugar and other nutrients from them.

Mycelium ensures that the fruiting body gets all the required nutrients from the soil. It also serves a bigger purpose which is supporting the health of all plants in the area. The mycelium has a very robust defense system when considering pathogens, fruiting body, and distributing enzymes into the substrate.

The Substrate and Supplements

You must have observed mycelium mentioned in the ingredients of various supplements. It is not always mentioned even if mycelium is part of a supplement. But if it is mentioned, it is usually because of government regulation.

A mycelium serves no nutritional purpose instead it serves as a filler ingredient. Still, it is used in supplements because it is inseparable from the substrate. So, if you take supplements with mycelium for a certain benefit, you may not get the optimum benefit. First of all, mycelium does not store many nutrients and use so many nutrients for itself or for forming mushroom. Secondly, your intake will only include indigestible fillers and starches that are nutritionally empty.

What about Extracts?

The extracts are made from the fruiting body of a functional mushroom to yield maximum benefit. Only the fruiting body is used for extracts as it is heated to unbind and fill certain compounds from the thick walls of the fruiting body.

If mycelium is also added along with the fruiting body, the extract will have an insignificant effect on the user. It is because the heat will burn down the thin walls of the mycelium and most of the compounds will be lost or damaged.

Mycelium is also usually barren of all the nutrients. If you see mycelium extracts in a supplement, it is because the supplement needed a certain compound that is only found in the mycelium. It must have been extracted using a cold extraction technique instead of heat and water to avoid damaging the compound.

Beta-Glucans: Mycelium vs Fruiting Body

Functional mushrooms are a healthy source of beta-glucans and alpha-glucans. Beta-glucans have a very significant role in supporting the active immune system in our body.

Let us consider Cordyceps to see the concentration of beta glucans and alpha glucans. A Cordyceps militaris mushroom contains 34.36% beta-glucans and 1.65% alpha-glucans. While Cordyceps Cs-4 (Pure mycelium) has 7.58% beta-glucans and 161% alpha-glucans.

Which is better?

Well, there is no doubt that a fruiting body of a mushroom yields more benefit to you than the mycelium. You should always prefer supplements that are made purely or have a maximum quantity of the fruiting body. On the other hand, you should avoid supplements that have mycelium as they mainly work as fillers and have no nutritional benefits.

A fruiting body yields more beta glucans and hence safeguards your body against nasties. A fruiting body is full of nutrition and ensures your body has no lack of nutrition. A fruiting body of a mushroom is a healthy source of microminerals, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. It also helps trace minerals including zinc, selenium, iron, and copper. They are only low in sodium.

Fruiting bodies also have bioactive compounds which contain anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.

Final Words

Functional mushrooms have been an integral part of ancient medicines for more than a thousand years. People are now getting aware of the benefits yielded by functional mushrooms on their overall health. The fruiting body of a mushroom yields uncountable benefits which are far more than the mycelium of a mushroom. Supplements with more fruiting body components are healthy for your body.




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