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April 20, 2004 -- A dietary supplement derived from a rare Chinese mushroom may help boost athletic performance and endurance, according to a new study.

Researchers found 12 weeks of supplementation with CordyMax, a dietary supplement made from the fermented Cordyceps mushroom, produced slight but significant increases in several measures of exercise capacity, metabolism, and endurance in healthy, sedentary adults.

Researchers say products derived from the Cordyceps mushroom have already been shown to increase exercise capacity in older adults and improve exercise performance and endurance in elite athletes. But this study was among the first to look at the mushroom's effect on healthy, sedentary adults.

The results of the study were presented this week at Experimental Biology 2004 in Washington, D.C. The research was supported by a grant from Pharmex Inc., which produces CordyMax.

Chinese Mushroom Boosts Energy

In the study, 131 adults aged 40-70 were randomly assigned to take either three grams of CordyMax or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Researchers measured exercise capacity, endurance, and other exercise-related indicators before, during, and after the treatment.

The study showed that the peak volume of oxygen (VO2peak) consumption increased by 5.5% in the treated group vs. 2.2% in the placebo group. An increase in VO2peak is commonly used to indicate an increase in exercise capacity.

Endurance was measured using the time it took for the participants to complete a 1 mile walk, which was reduced by 29 seconds among the supplement group but increased by 19 seconds in the non-treated group.

Researchers also found that body weight was reduced by 0.78% in the CordyMax group but increased by 0.42% in the non-treated group, which suggests that the supplement may aid in weight control.

In addition, diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in a blood pressure reading) was decreased by 3.2% among those who took the supplement, but no such change in blood pressure was found in the placebo group.

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