Medicinal mushrooms have been in the spotlight for decades. They get plenty of love for their anti-aging, immune-regulating, and brain-boosting properties.
So, our ears pricked up when we heard that mushrooms are in the spotlight again. This time, researchers are zoning in on an emerging “longevity nutrient” called L-ergothioneine found in mushrooms.
Ergothioneine (or ERGO to those in the know) is a sulfur-based antioxidant and amino acid.
ERGO is found in almost all human cells and tissues. However, it’s not synthesized in the body. Only certain fungi and microbes produce it.
Mushrooms are the leading dietary source of ergothioneine, with the highest concentrations found in white button, oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, and porcini mushrooms. You can also get small amounts from chicken livers, black beans, kidney beans, and oat bran.
However, most people don’t get enough ERGO through their diets to make an impact.
Researchers started getting excited about ergothioneine with the discovery of a specialized transporter protein called ETT. ETT carries ergothioneine into human cells. It transports other nutrients too but seems to work more efficiently for ergothioneine.
In short, its unique ability to directly (and quickly) penetrate your cells suggests ERGO plays a crucial role in human health.
But we also have a healthy level of skepticism. So, we looked at the science.
Ergothioneine is a potent intracellular antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals in your cells. Research suggests it’s particularly concentrated in the mitochondria of the cell (energy-producing organelles that require maximum protection against oxidative stress).
But here is the real kicker. One study found ergothioneine delays telomere shortening under stressful conditions. Telomeres are protective proteins found at the end of your chromosomes (I like to think of them as hard hats for your chromosomes). They gradually shorten with age, and shorter telomeres mean a shorter lifespan and a higher risk of disease.
This effect may explain why consuming ergothioneine is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk and a lower overall mortality rate.
If you ask me, a supplement that prevents telomeres from shortening deserves much more attention.
Ergothioneine might be a natural performance enhancer. An animal study found it increased time to exhaustion during aerobic exercise. It also improved muscle recovery.
You’re not a mouse, so we need human studies to confirm these findings. I’m confident we’ll see the research expanding into exercise performance in the coming years.
(Skip to the end of the article for more on the benefits of ergothioneine)
The research on ergothioneine is ongoing, and the market isn’t (yet) saturated with ergothioneine supplements. But we predict this emerging amino acid is the next big thing.
Here is our list of the 5 best ergothioneine supplements. All the supplements selected are from trusted brands and made according to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for quality and safety.
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Without a doubt, Real Mushrooms are the #1 source of organic, third-party tested mushroom supplements in the US.
First off, RM has been growing and spreading the word about medicinal mushrooms for over 40 years. They’re one of a handful of companies latching onto the exciting research around ergothioneine.
Each serving of Real Mushrooms ERGO+ delivers 5 mg of pure ergothioneine from yeast. Plus, it contains 250 mg of shiitake mushroom extract and oyster mushroom extract standardized for high levels of beta-glucans.
ERGO+ is organic, non-GMO, and free from fillers, additives, mycelium (the non-fruiting body of the mushroom), and gluten or grains of any kind. It’s also third-party verified for quality, purity, and potency. This supplement is legit.
A bottle of 60 servings sells for $29.95. We think Real Mushrooms ERGO+ is the best ergothioneine product on the market.
Youngr™ NMN is one of the most exciting anti-aging products we’ve come across. Developed by Harvard biomedical scientist Dr. Andrew Salzman, it contains a proprietary blend of antioxidants and sirtuin activators to protect your cells from oxidative damage and “turn on” longevity genes.
The key ingredient is Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), a precursor to NAD+. It’s often referred to as the “fountain of youth.”
A 2-capsule serving delivers:
These ingredients work synergistically to ensure they end up where you want them – in your cells.
The capsules are also non-GMO, vegan-friendly, and free from preservatives, soy, gluten, dairy, and fish.
You can buy a month’s supply for $88 or subscribe monthly and get it for $73. It’s pricey, but you’re getting more than just ergothioneine. I love the subscription because it’s best to take longevity nutrients consistently over time.
Finally, Wonderfeel manufactures products in cGMP-certified facilities in California. In addition, their third-party lab results are trackable and available to anyone interested (I love the transparency).
Life Extension has been making cGMP-certified anti-aging supplements for over 40 years. Longevity science is their jam.
Their Essential Youth L-Ergothioneine delivers 5 mg of patented ErgoActive® per capsule. ErgoActive uses a proprietary fermentation process, and a serving is equivalent to eating 2-5 cups of white button mushrooms. You also get 5 mg of vitamin C, which helps to protect ergothioneine from damage before it reaches your cells.
This product is plant-based, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
The potency, quality, and competitive price make this ERGO supplement a great buy.
REVITACELL is a cGMP-certified anti-aging formula that combines ergothioneine with other science-backed antioxidants.
Each serving contains a list of top-tier longevity nutrients:
The capsules are vegan-friendly and free from gluten, lactose, soy, and GMOs.
One month’s supply is $129. However, if you sign up for a monthly subscription, you can get a bottle for $109.65.
It is the most expensive product on the list and has 50% less ergothioneine per serving than others. That said, Awakened Alchemy offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Sundita is a GMP-certified, US-based supplement company that uses independent testing to confirm the purity and potency of its formulas.
Their ergothioneine supplement delivers 5 mg of pure ErgoActive® per capsule. It’s certified gluten-free and non-GMO. A bottle holds 60 capsules, which lasts 1-2 months depending on your dose.
It’s a high-quality option, but the higher price puts it at #5 on the list.
Our goal is to rank the best ergothioneine supplements. But you need to understand how we ranked them to make the best decision for your needs.
So, here are a few factors we considered when making our list.
The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement industry. Unfortunately, this means dodgy products are everywhere. As ergothioneine is relatively new on the market, it’s even more susceptible to unscrupulous companies.
For this reason, we only list reputable companies that adhere to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations. We also prioritize brands that use third-party testing and display their results transparently.
In addition, we looked for companies that use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients.
We only recommend brands committed to sourcing the highest-quality ingredients tested for purity.
All the products listed are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, and free from fillers and additives.
As with many anti-aging compounds, ergothioneine doesn’t come cheap. That said, we found high-quality supplements that suit a range of budgets.
Real Mushrooms ERGO+ and Essential Youth L-Ergothioneine are the most affordable options on the list.
Youngr NMN and REVITACELL are more costly. However, they provide other anti-aging ingredients to give you more bang for your buck.
Declining ergothioneine levels after age 60 may be a risk factor for age-related neuro-degenerative diseases. Plus, studies show levels drop even more in people with cognitive decline.
Although cases are slowing down, many people are (understandably) concerned about the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection.
This 2020 review proposed ergothioneine as a promising natural therapeutic agent for reducing COVID-19 severity.
According to the review, this is because of its “ability to modulate inflammation, scavenge free radicals, protect against acute respiratory distress syndrome, prevent endothelial dysfunction, […] amongst many others.”
However, currently, no clinical trials exist on ergothioneine and COVID-19.
The current consensus among manufacturers seems to be between 5-10 mg daily.
Even though The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says it’s safe for infants and children, we don’t suggest nailing ergothioneine supplements from birth.
But it may be beneficial for relatively young people (say between the ages of 20-40) to use ergothioneine as a preventative healthcare measure.
Ergothioneine is a safe supplement with no recorded side effects. That said, we encourage you to speak with your healthcare professional before taking ergothioneine (or any new supplement).
Above all, L-ergothioneine is a promising amino acid in the fight for optimal human health and longevity. The research is in its infancy, so we encourage you to use it with other anti-aging practices that we know work – like regular exercise, a varied diet rich in plants, and intermittent fasting.