Beta-glucan is a fiber-type complex sugar (polysaccharide) derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oat and barley fiber, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. In their natural states, yeast and mushrooms contain a mixture of beta-1,3-glucan and beta-1,6-glucan. Oats and barley contain a mixture of beta-1,3-glucan and beta-1,4-glucan. In addition to purified beta-1,3-glucan from these sources, you may see products listed as beta-1,3/1,6-glucan in the case of yeast-derived products and as beta-1,3/1,4-glucan when derived from oats. Similar (if not identical) properties have been shown for beta-glucan-rich extracts and purified beta-glucan derived from oats, baker’s yeast, and mushrooms.
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This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
3 grams or more daily
Beta-glucans are a type of soluble fiber that has been shown in multiple clinical trials to lower elevated total and LDL-cholesterol levels.
are a type of soluble fiber found in oats and barley, and mushrooms, as well as yeasts, bacteria, and algae. Beta-glucans are a key factor in the cholesterol-lowering effect of oats. As with other soluble fibers, beta-glucans lower circulating cholesterol levels by binding to dietary cholesterol, reducing its absorption, and by altering cholesterol metabolism, partly through effects on the gut microbiome. A meta-analysis of results from 21 controlled trials that included a combined total of 1,120 participants with mildly elevated cholesterol levels found supplementing with a minimum of 3 grams per day of beta-glucan for at least three weeks led to reductions in total and LDL-cholesterol levels. In one placebo-controlled trial that included 191 subjects with borderline to very high LDL-cholesterol levels, taking 3 grams of beta-glucan daily for four weeks reduced LDL-cholesterol levels by 6% and cardiovascular risk scores by 8%. A placebo-controlled crossover trial that had 83 participants with moderately high cholesterol levels found LDL-cholesterol levels dropped 15.1%, total cholesterol levels decreased 8.9%, and non-HDL-cholesterol levels fell 12.1% after eight weeks of supplementing with 3 grams of beta-glucan daily.
Liver Cirrhosis (Inulin, Pectin, Resistant Starch)
10 grams total fermentable fiber daily
In a study of people with cirrhosis, supplementing with fermentable fiber (containing equal parts of beta-glucan, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch) improved liver and brain function.
In a study of people with cirrhosis, supplementing with 10 grams of fermentable fiber per day (containing equal parts of beta-glucan, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch) for 30 days resulted in an improvement in liver function. The impaired brain function that often accompanies cirrhosis of the liver (hepatic encephalopathy) also improved.
Refer to label instructions
Beta-glucan activates white blood cells, which in turn can recognize and kill tumor cells, correct oxidative damage, and speed up recovery of damaged tissue.
is a fiber-type polysaccharide (complex sugar) derived from the cell wall of baker’s yeast, oat and barley fiber, and many medicinal mushrooms, such as maitake. Numerous experimental studies in test tubes and animals have shown beta-glucan to activate white blood cells. In fact, there have been hundreds of research papers on beta-glucan since the 1960s. The research indicates that beta-1,3-glucan, in particular, is very effective at activating white blood cells known as macrophages and neutrophils. A beta-glucan–activated macrophage or neutrophil can recognize and kill tumor cells, remove cellular debris resulting from oxidative damage, speed up recovery of damaged tissue, and further activate other components of the immune system. Although the research in test tube and animal studies is promising, many questions remain about the effectiveness of beta-glucan as an oral supplement to enhance immune function in humans. Controlled trials are necessary to determine whether humans can benefit from beta-glucan, and in what amounts oral beta-glucan must be taken from meaningful effects.
How It Works
How to Use It
For lowering cholesterol levels, the amount of beta-glucan used in clinical trials has ranged from 2,900 to 15,000 mg per day. For enhancing immune function, an effective amount has not yet been determined due to the lack of studies in this application. However, manufacturers of beta-glucan products usually recommend between 50 and 1,000 mg daily (to be taken on an empty stomach), although some products contain as much as 500 mg per capsule.
Where to Find It
Beta-glucan is found in the cell walls of many yeast and cereal fibers, such as oats, wheat, and barley. As a dietary supplement, beta-glucan is available in liquid form as well as in capsules and tablets.
Because beta-glucan is not an essential nutrient, deficiencies do not occur.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Last Review: 03-24-2015
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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2023.