Chitin: An important ingredient in mushrooms and what you need to know!

The polysaccharide, chitin, forms fungal cell walls and adds nutritional properties.

A mushroom lover might first think of, well, mushrooms when they think of Chitin. However, chitin is found naturally in many other raw resources such as shrimp, marine crustaceans, insects and is extracted from the by-product of beer production. Chitin is a fibrous polysaccharide that forms the cell walls of fungi, as well as the exoskeleton of shrimp and insects. So what’s all the fuss about Chitin? Chitin is the most bioavailable aminopolysaccharide in nature. Its abundance makes it a unique, environmentally friendly source that can be used to make biodegradable plastics, surgical sutures, and even fertilizers.

In fungi, chitin makes up the cell wall. it works like the cellulose that makes up the cell walls of other plants. Chitin makes fungi strong, giving them the strength to push through plant matter, such as rocks and leaves, as they grow and come to the surface.

Commercial interest in Chitin

Chitin is also of commercial interest because of its high nitrogen content, which makes it an excellent chelating agent.* Something that has chelating properties can bind tightly to metal ions. IIn this way, chelating agents may be able to help remove toxins from the body.* A household example of a chelating agent is apple cider vinegar, which can be used to help cleanse the skin of metals and heavy metals.*

Chitin consumption through mushrooms

Chitin is what makes mushrooms such a good source of dietary fiber.* It’s also why mushrooms are so meaty! Some mushrooms contain more chitin per gram than others. In portobellos, chitin levels are as high as eight percent when raw. When cooked, chitin levels drop but dietary, digestible fiber levels increase!

Most animals rely on their gut flora to digest chitin, as it is relatively indigestible without bacteria. Their difficulty in digestion may add some hesitation when eating, but chewing mushrooms helps digestion more fully. After all, their insolubility is actually a selling point.* Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through the digestive system, which can help support normal digestive function.*

The presence of chitin can also support nutrient absorption.* Chitin can also promote the presence of healthy gut bacteria.*

Get the most out of a mushroom tincture:

Chitin, despite its fiber benefits, reduces the bioavailability of some of the benefits of mushroom supplements.* Cordyceps, which helps support healthy energy and stamina, has a high level of chitin that makes up nearly eight percent of the weight of the mushroom .* It is important to consider the extraction process when purchasing supplements, powders or tinctures. Using an initial alcohol concentration of 60% and a double extraction preparation is the best way to tincture Cordyceps. You can learn how to make your own tincture in ours functional mushroom tincture article or check us out Cordyceps Energy Tincture.* Our tinctures are complete with a certificate of analysis, confirming the levels of beta glucans, cordycepin and adenosine in each tincture.

Did you know that for every item AdaptogenShrooms sells, a tree is planted?

Learn more about ours One Tree Program here.

  1. Doi: 10.1063/1.4964577
  2. Doi: 10.1016/S1381-5148(00)00038-9

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