Real Mushrooms Review & Comparison [2021]: Rare Adaptogenic Mushrooms?

I’m obsessed with mushrooms. Not the magic kind. Nor culinary.

Tiny doses of these mysterious substances confer greater whole-body health.

Adaptogens are super plants (and mushrooms) that protect the body and mind against physical, chemical, emotional, or biological stress. Click To Tweet

Adaptogenic mushrooms are chockfull of antioxidants, balance the immune system, boost the brain, ward off degenerative disease, and bring you into healthy balance.

Before you fill up your Amazon cart with random mushrooms, there are some crucial details to know about mushroom supplements. I’ve tried all the big, heavily marketed brands. I’ve also sampled some of the smaller, lesser-known products.

Several companies stand out above the rest. Regardless of who you choose, today I’ll help you spot the highest quality mushrooms (that work) and review why I choose Real Mushrooms above the rest.

In a hurry? Pickup Real Mushrooms with discount code URBAN for 10% off.

How to Choose High-Quality Mushroom Supplements

First, what are mushrooms?

You might lump them together with plants, but mushrooms are in the fungi kingdom. Humans have evolved alongside mushrooms and fungi, yet we’ve largely ignored them until recently.

“Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health.

Paul Stamets

The best supplements are only useful if your body can digest and absorb them.

Real Mushrooms is dedicated to producing the highest-quality mushroom supplements. Their certifications speak for themselves:

Real Mushrooms Product Certifications
Important mushroom certifications.

Pressed for time? Choose Real Mushrooms and know you’re getting good stuff.


When evaluating products, ask the following two questions:

  1. What’s inside
  2. What’s not inside

I’ll elaborate.

What You DO Want Inside Mushroom Products

Like all plants and fungi, the medicinal compounds inside mushrooms (alkaloids) concentrate when grown properly.

Of particular interest (but not limited to) are bioactive compounds like beta-glucans and triterpenes,

Mushrooms have many helpful nutrients, including beta-glucans for immune enhancement, ergothioneines for antioxidative potentiation, nerve growth stimulators for helping brain function, and antimicrobial compounds for limiting viruses.”

Paul Stamets

When I scan mushroom labels I look for the following:

  • Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Extraction method (some bioactives require hot water while others extract best in alcohol)
  • Beta-D-glucans percentage (more is better)
  • 100% extracted from fruiting bodies (greater potency)

What You Do NOT Want Inside Mushroom Products

Mushrooms are bioremediators. They soak up everything in the environment around them, including toxic chemicals.

You don’t want heavy metal toxicity from a bunk product. Indeed, mushroom expert Paul Stamets agrees:

"If you do not know where the mushroom products you are consuming are grown, think twice before eating them." Click To Tweet

Make sure that the manufacturer has undergone third-party lab testing. I ask for a copy of the report.

When checking products, their labels, and third-party testing, I’m wary of:

  • Heavy metals
  • Fillers
  • Binders
  • Additives
  • Starch levels (waste of money)
  • Grains (waste of money)
  • Mycelium (less potency)

Pay close attention to heavy metal levels on third-party reports. If they cannot procure lab testing, steer clear!

My Experience With Real Mushrooms

Guests visiting my apartment mistake it for an Amazon warehouse. Okay, not quite, but you get the idea.

I’m conflicted: on one hand, I love the bold promises of various supplements. On the other, I wonder if all these pills, powders, and ingredients do more harm than good.

I’ve returned to Real Mushrooms for several reasons:

  • Great customer service. When I had a problem with a pouch not resealing, they made it right.
  • Highest quality products. The mushroom industry is shady. Real Mushrooms doesn’t cut corners like the rest, resulting in more potent products.
  • Big sales throughout the year. I do most of my stocking up around Black Friday and get amazing deals.

I also wish they’d do a few things differently:

  • Some pouches don’t seal well at all. An airtight seal is necessary to prevent oxidation and moisture.
  • Powders sometimes clump.
  • The products are expensive.
  • Products don’t mention levels of certain active ingredients (like cordycepin in their cordyceps).
  • Custom formulas. I’d prefer lions mane and cordyceps in one pouch.

I spend a lot on supplements. So I think long and hard about the expensive ones. At around $0.50 per serving, Real Mushrooms products aren’t outrageous nor cheap. But I keep coming back to them.

If I ever decide to scale back, I’ll stick to my favorite two products (in order):

  1. Lions mane
  2. Cordyceps

Recently, I’ve moved toward broad full-spectrum supplements, and away from isolates. I want to get the most nutritional bang for my buck.

I’ve tried 5+ brands and plan to stick with Real Mushrooms.

The Real Mushrooms Product Lineup

Real Mushrooms offers various popular mushroom products. Only one blend, and the rest are specific mushrooms.

I’ll explain the benefits of each mushroom, and how I personally use the products. I prefer powders, but each mushroom also comes in pill form.

You can get Real Mushrooms products on Amazon (here), or from their website (see below) for better prices.

Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders

realmushrooms 5defenders

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 200mg each (1000mg total)

Servings: 45

Cost: $35

Their flagship product. 5 defenders is a blend of Chaga, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Turkey Tail. All in one.

Real Mushrooms didn’t cut any corners and extracted each mushroom the right way to maximize the potency and value.

I get the benefits of five mushroom species in a single gram of powder.

2019 study suggests that mushrooms—particularly Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake—taken together have synergistic effects.

High-quality Shiitake also seems to slow the aging process by reducing oxidative stress. It also keeps bone strong.


Wide range of mushrooms

Easy & convenient


Low-dose of each mushroom compared to buying individually

Bad taste

My carry-on always has a pouch of 5 Defenders handy. I like the convenience of having broad-spectrum mushrooms when I burden my immune system with travel. Since I don’t love the taste, I’ll toss 5 Defenders back with some water.

I consider 5 Defenders my mushroom insurance policy.

Real Mushrooms Reishi

realmushrooms reishi

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 1000mg total

Servings: 45

Cost: $35

Unique: Triterpenes > 4%

Nicknamed ‘the herb of immortality’ and ‘queen of mushrooms’, Reishi is the ideal anti-aging mushroom.

Reishi has been used in Asian medicine for hundreds of years to treat aches, pains, allergies, “qi”, immunity, cancer, sleep, and inflammation.

Recent research supports the incredible properties of Reishi,

“[Reishi contains] approximately 400 different bioactive compounds, which mainly include triterpenoids, polysaccharides, nucleotides, sterols, steroids, fatty acids, proteins/peptides and trace elements which has been reported to have a number of pharmacological effects including immunomodulation, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, chemopreventive, antitumor, chemo and radio protective, sleep promoting, antibacterial, antiviral (including anti-HIV), hypolipidemic, anti-fibrotic, hepatoprotective, anti-diabetic, anti-androgenic, anti-angiogenic, anti-herpetic, antioxidative and radical-scavenging, anti-aging, hypoglycemic, estrogenic activity and anti-ulcer properties. Ganoderma lucidum has now become recognized as an alternative adjuvant in the treatment of leukemia, carcinoma, hepatitis and diabetes.”

Benefits of Reishi:


Lighter taste than most mushrooms

Sleep promoting


Smaller pouches

I combine Reishi with turmeric, almond milk, and sometimes raw local honey. I’ll sip on my homemade evening golden milk latte (caffeine-free) as I wind down.

Real Mushrooms Lions Mane

realmushrooms lionsmane

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 1000mg total

Servings: 60

Cost: $29.95

My personal favorite, lions mane is the ultimate brain boosting mushroom.

The Chinese have used it for thousands of years. It’s great for nerve growth.

Brain aside, lions mane helps regenerate the nervous system.

Others love the product equally as much. Throughout the internet you’ll encounter hundreds of five star reviews.

Benefits of lions mane:


Excellent for supporting brain regeneration

Promotes nervous system repair

Safe and effective nootropic

Contains all non-water soluble components


Lions mane may reduce libido

I like lions mane as an ideal morning coffee booster. It has a mild, earthy flavor. I use the lions mane/caffeine combination to stimulate creativity and learning.

Real Mushrooms Chaga

realmushrooms chaga

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 1000mg total

Servings: 60

Cost: $29.95

Reishi is the medicinal mushroom queen, but chaga is proclaimed the king. I’ve heard chaga referred to as “black gold”

Russians and Northern Europeans have used chaga medicinally for centuries. If you’re looking for a potent source of antioxidants, chaga tops the list with an ORAC score of 146,700.

Benefits of chaga:


Especially high in antioxidants

Flavor reminiscent of dark chocolate

Reduces sickness symptoms

Helps with belly bloat


Doesn’t mix well

Chaga can stand alone as a tea. In fact, it was a coffee substitute during World Wars I and II. Some mushroom supplement companies mix powdered Chaga into their coffee blends. I’ll add Chaga into salad dressings for rich and savory taste.

Real Mushrooms Turkey Tail

realmushrooms turkeytail

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 1000mg total

Servings: 45

Cost: $34.95

I get my turkey tail from friends into mushroom hunting. Apparently, it’s everywhere. I haven’t seen nearly as much research on this mushroom compared to the others.

Their turkey tail is the only Real Mushrooms product I haven’t tried. Friends that have mentioned that it is overpriced. It also doesn’t mix all that well. Most people are better off choosing a different mushroom product.

Benefits of turkey tail:


Little taste

Strong immunity booster

Good for gut health


Leaves sediment in bottom of cup


Real Mushrooms Cordyceps-M

realmushrooms cordyceps

Product Information

Mushroom Dose: 1000mg total

Cordycepin: 0.1% – 0.4% per batch

Servings: 60

Cost: $29.95

After lions mane, cordyceps is my next favorite.

I don’t “feel” most supplements. Cordyceps is different. When I’m tired, one scoop energizes my workouts.

Real cordyceps is extremely rare and expensive. Far more so than gold! Most cordyceps on the market is fake or low-quality.

Benefits of (real) cordyceps:


Contains all non-water soluble components

Does not use Ophiocordyceps sinensis mycelium

Powerful energy booster


Sometimes can be too stimulating

Cordyceps is a key booster in my homemade preworkout. I’ll mix it in along with the other ingredients. The taste is mild. I would not recommend cordyceps in the evening as it is the most stimulating mushroom for me.

Real Mushrooms Compared to Other Brands

There are a few dominant players in mushroom supplements.

If you browse long enough you’re sure to encounter these.

A quick note: wild mushrooms are expensive. Almost all companies source from in-house grown mushroom suppliers.

Nammex is the highest quality, affordable mushroom supplier.

Unless you can afford $20,000 per kilogram wild Cordyceps, make sure that whatever brand you choose sources from Nammex.

Here’s how Real Mushrooms stacks up against the others. To compare, I matched cordyceps powder between each brand.

Real Mushrooms vs. Host Defense

I used Host Defense products before Real Mushrooms.

Invented by the well-known mushroom expert Paul Stamets, Host Defense produced mushroom supplements decades before the competition. They’ve been in business for over 40 years.

On the surface, the two companies are quite similar. They have one large difference:

Host Defense uses mycelium where Real Mushrooms uses (superior) fruiting bodies.

Recall from earlier that fruiting bodies are better researched, more potent, low in starch, and completely grain-free.

I’d rather not spend my money on grain fillers.

If you’re looking for quality, effectiveness, and value, Real Mushrooms wins.

Real Mushrooms vs. Nootropics Depot

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Nootropics Depot (ND) holds its own against Real Mushrooms.

At first blush, it seemed far cheaper. To accurately compare the two, I had to standardize the servings and product size. Price-wise, they come out the same. Unless you use the “subscribe and save” option on Real Mushrooms which saves an additional 15 percent.

I like that Nootropics Depot indicates Cordycepin levels.

Both use hot water extraction and whole fruiting bodies.

If they are indeed grain-free, I would like to see Nootropics Depot list that along with their starch percentages.

The Real Mushrooms team has 40 years of mushroom cultivating experience, so I prefer them. When they’re out of stock I might consider ND.

Real Mushrooms vs. Oriveda

I wanted to like Oriveda. Navigating their website was hard enough.

When I visited their site I was informed that I am currently unable to order directly through them since I am located in the USA. Instead, I’d have to find a reseller.

I like that they’ve assayed and published the active ingredient breakdown of their cordyceps:

oriveda mushrooms

You may notice that some bioactive ingredients are considerably below the others.

For example, both Nootropics Depot and Real Mushrooms contain beta-glucan levels of >25 percent.

Of all the products compared, their product lists the most cordycepin, one key primary active ingredient in cordyceps supplements.

If you’re in search of the absolute highest cordycepin, adenosine, or other nucleosides levels, Oriveda is the best bet.

Assuming you can stomach the extreme price of $72.95 for 120 capsules. I’m not convinced that the huge jump in price is worth the greater cordycepin.

Real Mushrooms Product Comparison Table

ProductSpecialtyServingsCostMushroom DoseMushroom TypeExtraction MethodCertificationsBeta-GlucansStarch
5 DefendersComplete45$34.951000mg (200mg each)100% whole fruiting bodyhot water / alcohol extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>20%<5%
ReishiLongevity45$34.951000mg100% whole fruiting bodyhot water / alcohol extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>15%<5%
Lion’s ManeCognition60$29.951000mg100% whole fruiting bodyhot water extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>25%<5%
ChagaDigestion60$29.951000mg100% whole fruiting bodyhot water extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>8%<5%
Turkey TailImmunity45$34.951000mg100% whole fruiting bodyhot water extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>30%<5%
CordycepsPerformance60$29.951000mg100% whole fruiting bodyhot water extractUSDA Organic, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher>25%<5%
Real Mushroom Product Comparison

Real Mushrooms: My Preferred Mushroom Brand

You can go wrong with mushrooms. Bad products are worse than none at all.

To choose a quality mushroom supplement, look for:

  • Quality ingredients and preparations methods
  • Free of common contaminants

The wrong extraction methods can negate any medicinal, healing benefits.

Do your research before choosing a product. I’ve had good experiences with Real Mushrooms, but they’re not the only brand.

While the prices on the Real Mushrooms website are usually lowest, they also sell on Amazon:

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