7 Health benefits of ergothioneine

Ergothioneine has been attracting increasing attention as a highly desired component in both skincare products and functional foods, thanks to its remarkable antioxidant properties and biological effects. 

What exactly is ergothioneine? Picture it as a microscopic shield, tirelessly guarding your cells against oxidative stress. This amino acid may be small in size, but its impact on your well-being is anything but minor.

Found in certain foods like mushrooms, ergothioneine swoops in like a superhero, neutralizing harmful free radicals and keeping your cells in tip-top shape.

Studies indicate that ergothioneine exhibits antioxidant potency that surpasses vitamin E by 7,000 times [1], establishing it as a significant compound in promoting overall health and well-being.

What are the health benefits of ergothioneine?

Ergothioneine offers a range of remarkable health benefits, encompassing antioxidant protection, anti-inflammatory effects, brain health support, and immune function enhancement. 

Research demonstrates its effectiveness in improving endothelial cell senescence and mitigating vascular relaxation damage induced by oxidative stress.

Ergothioneine is recommended as a dietary supplement at 30 mg/day for adults and 20 mg/day for children [2], and it is considered safe under normal usage conditions.

Studies also suggest that ergothioneine can alleviate lung inflammation, protect against kidney and brain damage, and potentially reduce oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body, thus guarding against age-related ailments and promoting overall well-being [3]. 

Moreover, its neuroprotective properties have been observed in preventing neuronal cell death caused by neurotoxins [4].

Discover the remarkable health benefits of ergothioneine below, a potent amino acid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties [5]. 

1. Serves as an antioxidant

Ergothioneine is beneficial for the body, protecting it from oxidative stress. It acts as a shield, defending your cells against harmful free radicals that can damage them and make you age faster.

Found abundantly in certain foods like mushrooms, ergothioneine works tirelessly to keep your cells safe and your body thriving. But its benefits don’t stop there. Let’s break it down:

  • Neutralizes free radicals: Ergothioneine neutralizes harmful free radicals and protects your cells from oxidative damage.
  • Prevents premature aging: By combating oxidative stress, ergothioneine helps to keep your skin youthful, your joints supple, and your energy levels high.
  • Supports heart health: With its antioxidant properties, ergothioneine may help reduce the risk of heart disease by protecting against oxidative damage to blood vessels.

So, next time you’re enjoying a delicious bowl of mushrooms, know that you’re also giving your body a powerful dose of protection against oxidative stress.

serves as an antioxidant
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2. Soothes inflammation

Ergothioneine functions as your body’s calming salve when it comes to inflammation. It is a supplement that can help you feel your best, whether you’re suffering from a sensitive stomach, achy joints, or even skin irritation.

Here’s how ergothioneine works:

  • Calms inflammation: Ergothioneine’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce swelling and discomfort, providing relief from conditions like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease [6].
  • Promotes healing: By soothing inflammation, ergothioneine supports the body’s natural healing processes, allowing tissues to repair and regenerate more effectively.
  • Protect against chronic disease: Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of serious health issues, including heart disease. Ergothioneine’s ability to soothe inflammation may help reduce the risk of these conditions and support overall well-being.

Whether you’re recovering from a workout or managing a chronic health condition, incorporating ergothioneine-rich foods into your diet can be a simple yet powerful way to support your body’s inflammatory response.

3. Boosts brain health

Ergothioneine helps keep the brain sharp. Imagine it like a shield, preventing harm to your nerve cells and promoting normal brain activity. 

Studies indicate that when taken as a supplement, ergothioneine can stop brain cells from dying due to harmful substances, lessen clumps of protein in the brain, lower stress caused by oxygen, and help the brain use sugar better [7], [8].

Also, having low levels of ergothioneine in the blood has been linked to worse memory and thinking skills and faster brain function decline. This shows that ergothioneine is important for keeping your brain healthy and working well.

Eatables high in ergothioneine, like mushrooms, can help keep your brain functioning at peak efficiency, whether you’re cramming for an exam or simply attempting to keep your place. Here’s how:

  • Protects nerve cells: Ergothioneine helps shield nerve cells from oxidative damage, reducing the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Supports memory: By supporting healthy brain function, ergothioneine may improve memory retention and recall, helping you stay sharp and focused.
  • Enhances cognitive function: From problem-solving to decision-making, ergothioneine supports a wide range of cognitive abilities, allowing you to perform at your best in all aspects of life.

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone who wants to keep your brain in top condition, incorporating ergothioneine-rich foods into your diet is a smart move for long-term brain health.

4. Supports eye health

As a reliable ally, ergothioneine is constantly willing to assist, shielding your eyes from the damaging effects of oxidative damage while maintaining bright, clear vision. 

Ergothioneine-rich meals like mushrooms can help keep your eyes healthy for years to come, whether you spend your days in the sun or staring at screens. Here’s how:

  • Prevents oxidative damage: Ergothioneine’s antioxidant properties help shield your eyes from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Supports eye function: By promoting overall eye health, ergothioneine ensures that your vision stays sharp and clear, even as you age.
  • Reduces eye strain: Whether you’re working long hours or enjoying a day in the sun, ergothioneine can help reduce eye strain and fatigue, keeping your eyes comfortable and refreshed.

5. Acts as ‘fountain of youth’

Who doesn’t want to feel young again? Ergothioneine is your weapon against aging. It fights damage in your body caused by getting older, helping to keep your skin soft, your joints flexible, and your energy levels up.

Here’s how ergothioneine can help you stay youthful:

  • Promotes skin health: By combating oxidative stress, ergothioneine helps maintain youthful skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and promoting a radiant complexion [9].
  • Supports joint function: Ergothioneine’s anti-inflammatory properties help keep your joints flexible and pain-free, allowing you to stay active and mobile as you age.
  • Boosts energy levels: By protecting against cellular damage, ergothioneine ensures that your body’s energy-producing mechanisms stay efficient, keeping you feeling energetic and youthful.

Whether you’re in your 20s or your 80s, incorporating ergothioneine-rich foods into your diet can help you stay forever young, both inside and out.

6. Fights chronic disease

Think of ergothioneine as your body’s protector, always on the lookout for dangers. It acts like a shield, guarding your cells from harm and keeping them strong.

Whether it’s toxins or other harmful things, ergothioneine jumps in to stop them and keep your cells safe. Here’s how ergothioneine helps:

  • Inhibits abnormal cell growth: Ergothioneine has been shown to inhibit the growth of abnormal cells, preventing them from spreading and causing harm.
  • Protects DNA: By shielding your DNA from damage, ergothioneine reduces the risk of mutations that can lead to abnormal cell growth.
  • Supports cellular health: Ergothioneine’s antioxidant properties help maintain the health and integrity of your cells, ensuring they function optimally and reducing the risk of abnormalities.

Incorporating ergothioneine-rich foods into your diet is a smart move for overall well-being, whether you’re looking to prevent health issues or support your body’s natural defenses.

7. Supports immune system

Ergothioneine is like a supportive friend, cheering on your immune system from the sidelines. Think of it as a booster shot, giving your body the extra support it needs to fend off harmful invaders and stay healthy. 

Foods high in ergothioneine, such as mushrooms, can support your body’s natural defenses, whether you’re fighting off a cold or simply trying to stay healthy throughout flu season. Here’s how it works:

  • Enhances immune response: Ergothioneine boosts the activity of immune cells, helping your body mount a strong defense against infections and illnesses.
  • Protects immune cells: By reducing oxidative stress, ergothioneine helps protect immune cells from damage, ensuring they can function effectively [10].
  • Supports overall health: A strong immune system is essential for overall health and well-being, and ergothioneine plays a key role in keeping it in top condition.
supports immune system
Photograph: insidecreativehouse/Envato

What foods contain ergothioneine?

Ergothioneine is naturally found in certain foods, particularly mushrooms, meat, seafood, grains, and beans. 

These foods are rich sources of ergothioneine, making them excellent choices for incorporating this beneficial compound into your diet.

When it comes to incorporating ergothioneine into your diet, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. Here’s a rundown of some of the top dietary sources:

MushroomsCertain varieties of mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, and porcini, are particularly rich in ergothioneine.
MeatErgothioneine can also be found in small amounts in meat, with pork and beef being the most notable sources.
SeafoodSome types of seafood, including shellfish like mussels and oysters, contain ergothioneine.
GrainsWhole grains like oats and wheat are also sources of ergothioneine, although in smaller amounts compared to mushrooms and meat.
BeansLegumes like kidney beans and black beans contain modest amounts of ergothioneine, making them a good option for vegetarians and vegans.
Garlic and onionsGarlic and onions are flavorful and contain ergothioneine, offering added health benefits.
SpinachLeafy greens like spinach are nutrient-dense and contain small amounts of ergothioneine.

By incorporating a variety of these ergothioneine-rich foods into your meals, you can ensure that you’re getting a healthy dose of this beneficial amino acid to support your overall health and well-being.

In closing

Ergothioneine is truly a powerhouse of health benefits, offering a wide range of advantages for your body and well-being. 

From its antioxidant properties to its ability to support brain health and immunity, ergothioneine is vital in keeping you healthy and thriving.

Ergothioneine emerges as a promising dietary nutrient in the fight against age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative conditions, chronic inflammation, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes.

Dubbed as one of the “longevity vitamins” for its anti-aging properties, ergothioneine’s biosynthesis has garnered significant interest.

With its potential to promote longevity and healthy aging, further research is warranted to fully grasp its molecular mechanisms and therapeutic benefits in addressing age-related ailments.


What are the health benefits of ergothioneine?

Ergothioneine offers a range of health benefits, including antioxidant protection, anti-inflammatory effects, support for brain health, and enhancement of immune function.

How can I incorporate ergothioneine into my diet?

You can incorporate ergothioneine into your diet by including foods like mushrooms, meat, seafood, grains, and beans, which are rich sources of this beneficial amino acid.

Is ergothioneine safe for everyone to consume?

Yes, ergothioneine is generally recognized as safe for consumption and is found naturally in many common foods. However, individuals with specific health conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to their diet.

Are there any ergothioneine supplements available?

While ergothioneine supplements are available, it’s generally recommended to obtain nutrients from whole foods whenever possible to ensure you benefit from the synergistic effects of other nutrients present in those foods.

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rising-popularity-longevity-vitamin-ergothioneine 
[2] https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/pharmacology/articles/10.3389/fphar.2022.850813/full 
[3] https://www.rxlist.com/supplements/ergothioneine.htm 
[4] https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/13/3/230 
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9221166/ 
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8113028/ 
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9228400/ 
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9495818/ 
[9] https://victoriahealth.com/ergothioneine-serum/ 
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8971627/

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