With all the benefits present in mushrooms, it’s hard to keep track of what does what. So here at the Mushroom-ary (Mushroom Dictionary), we’re going to define a couple terms that get thrown around a lot to make it easier for you to understand what’s going into your body. With each benefit we’ll be recommending a mushroom you can give a try to boost that benefit, but if you’re ever curious about the comprehensive benefits of a specific mushroom, check out our blog!

1. Selenium

Selenium is a mineral found in soils, water, and some foods. While this mineral should only be taken in small amounts, it helps boost metabolism. It also has some antioxidant properties. Eat shiitake mushrooms to increase selenium intake, but not too much because selenium is meant to be in small quantities in the body.

2. Zinc

Zinc is what keeps your skin healthy for new cell production and the protection of the cell membrane. It also helps ward off acne because of its role in regulating the amount of natural oil your skin produces. Lastly, one of zinc’s most popular roles is that it is a key-ingredient in sunscreen and acts as a physical block from UV light rays. Shiitake mushrooms are also great to increase your zinc intake.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be easily considered one of the most important vitamins for the human species. Vitamin D is responsible for the intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate; all of which support your bones and teeth! The vitamin also helps protect against a range of diseases and conditions, like type one diabetes. While you can always lay outside for an hour or two to increase vitamin D intake, you can also consume white button mushrooms!

4. Vitamin A and Vitamin E

Vitamin A is involved in immune function, reproduction, and cellular communication; it is especially critical for vision and maintaining the receptors in your retina. Vitamin E meanwhile can be used to combat an array of genetic disorders such as Alzheimer's, beta-thalassemia (a hemoglobin deficiency), and Huntington’s disease. On a less grandeur scale it can also be used to combat menstrual cramps! And no surprise here, but both of these vitamins can be found in high amounts in shiitake mushrooms.

5. Antioxidants

You’ll probably hear this term thrown around a lot in other health worlds than just the mushroom world. Antioxidants are natural substances that prevent or delay some types of cell damages. This is not a singular,specific thing but a genre of vitamins such as, vitamins C and E, selenium, and many more. All mushrooms have high antioxidant levels so go crazy!

6. Melanin

Melanin is a broad term used to describe a pigment found in natural organisms that protect them against ultraviolet radiation (UVR). While higher amounts of melanin in your skin can protect you against skin cancer, the pigment can only go so far and that’s why we need to wear sunscreen when we tan. It’s important to protect your skin from sunburn because the synthesis of vitamin D happens in the top layer of your skin. Chaga mushrooms are incredibly high in melanin and can be eaten to provide a safer tanning experience.

7. Spore

The spore is the first of three growing steps in a mushroom’s life cycle. Reishi mushrooms are grown in China for the spores, but research does not support that consuming spores actually has any health benefits.

8. Mycelium

Mycelium is the second growing phase of the life cycle of a mushroom. Now lots of products have mycelium in them, but that also means that it can have grains in them. Mycelium can have anti-inflammatory properties, but if it has grains in it these properties are rendered ineffective. Here’s a link to our blog post as to why you should avoid mushroom-grain products.

9. Mushroom

The mushroom is the final and fruiting body of the life cycle. Mushrooms themselves have been used for thousands of years in chinese medicine techniques. Each mushroom has varying health benefits so do your research to find what you need!

10. Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that help improve and restore the flora of the digestive tract. Now that may sound kind of gross, but I promise these guys are good. These bacteria help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and produce vitamins, in the gut. Lion’s mane mushrooms are your guys to consume to help with this the most but all mushrooms have some probiotics in them.

11. Adaptogens

Adaptogens is another broad term like antioxidants. They help support adrenal glands and help you adapt to stress. They can also help calm anxiety and boost mental focus. Reishi mushrooms will reduce stress, anxiety, and promote the production of melatonin; cordyceps help with increasing energy and stamina; and ashwagandha balances cortisol levels and boosts thyroid function.

I know this may seem like a lot and to be honest, it kind of is. But this is because mushrooms have a lot of health benefits! There’s so much more to learn about in our blog if this interests you and I suggest taking a look at some of our products as well to start getting this Fung-YESs into your bodies. Mush love all and happy hunting!