What is Ergothioneine good for?

Ergothioneine is an amino acid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It naturally occurs in certain fungi and microorganisms. Research suggests that ergothioneine may play a role in preventing chronic diseases related to aging.

Mushrooms like champignons and oyster mushrooms are rich in ergothioneine. While isolated ergothioneine

Ergothioneine supplement

Effects on Brain Diseases

It’s important to note that while some results are promising, more research is needed. Studies have shown that levels of ergothioneine are lower in individuals with cognitive disorders compared to healthy individuals. Lower levels are also associated with signs of brain atrophy. Daily intake of ergothioneine improved memory and other cognitive functions in one study, suggesting it may play a role in enhancing or protecting cognitive function.

Parkinson’s Disease

Low levels of ergothioneine have also been observed in patients with Parkinson’s disease, possibly indicating increased oxidative stress, which may contribute to the disease’s progression. Ergothioneine has been shown to protect against oxidative stress in cell models, making it a potential therapeutic target.

Depression and Sleep Disorders

Ergothioneine has shown antidepressant-like activity in animal models and has also been shown to improve sleep quality in animal models with stress-induced sleep disorders. This opens up the possibility that ergothioneine may play a role in treating depression and sleep disorders.


In an animal model for epilepsy, ergothioneine reduced seizure symptoms, suggesting it may have a protective effect in epileptic conditions, although more research is needed to confirm this.

Overall, research indicates that ergothioneine has potential in a range of brain-related diseases. However, it’s crucial to note that while these results are promising, more research is needed to establish ergothioneine’s full therapeutic potential.

Ergothioneine and Healthy Aging

Ergothioneine is not just an antioxidant; it has also been shown to protect the skin from UV and gamma radiation, and is therefore used in some skincare products. Interestingly, levels of ergothioneine in the blood decrease with age, especially after 60.

Lower levels are also associated with cognitive issues like dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Ongoing clinical trials are investigating whether ergothioneine supplements can improve cognitive function in the elderly.

Cardiovascular Health

Studies have shown that higher levels of ergothioneine in the blood are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. This supports earlier research pointing to ergothioneine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as beneficial for the cardiovascular system.

Metabolic Diseases

Free radicals are known to play a role in the development of metabolic diseases like diabetes and fatty liver. Ergothioneine has been shown to protect against damage caused by these reactive molecules, especially in the liver, where it reduces markers of inflammation and lipid peroxidation.

How Does It Work?

Ergothioneine is an effective antioxidant because it is stable in its thione form, which is dominant at the body’s natural pH level. It can neutralize harmful oxygen and nitrogen molecules, thereby reducing oxidative stress, a factor in many chronic diseases. Humans and animals cannot produce ergothioneine themselves, so it must come from the diet. A specific transport protein in the cell membrane ensures that ergothioneine from food is absorbed into the body and distributed to various tissues.

Is It a Vitamin?

Although ergothioneine does not meet the classic definition of a vitamin, some researchers believe it should be considered a “longevity vitamin.” This is because a lack of ergothioneine in the diet over time can lead to a range of chronic diseases.


  1. Ishimoto, T., & Kato, Y. (2022). Ergothioneine in the brain. FEBS letters596(10), 1290-1298. ↩︎
  2. Tian, X., Thorne, J. L., & Moore, J. B. (2023). Ergothioneine: an underrecognised dietary micronutrient required for healthy ageing?British Journal of Nutrition129(1), 104-114. ↩︎
  3. Beelman, R. B., Kalaras, M. D., Phillips, A. T., & Richie, J. P., Jr (2020). Is ergothioneine a ‘longevity vitamin’ limited in the American diet?Journal of nutritional science9, e52. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2020.44 ↩︎


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