Beta-glucan supplements have no known side effects, according to WebMD, but they may reduce the effectiveness of certain medications. Beta-glucans increase the functioning of the immune system, so people on medications meant to reduce immune system functioning should avoid them.
There is very little risk involved in taking beta-glucan supplements, states Drugs.com. Variations exist in the quality and composition of beta-glucan supplements because the substances derive from natural products. Supplements run the risk of contamination or a lower quality product, in addition to being more costly than food sources. Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not carefully regulate supplements, it is best to get beta-glucans from food sources instead, advises Healthline. Beta-glucans occur in some common high-fiber foods, such as whole grains, oats and barely. Medicinal mushrooms are another source of beta-glucans used extensively in traditional Asian medicine.
There is evidence that beta-glucans can boost heart health, according to Healthline. Several studies suggest that they are able to lower high cholesterol and triglycerides as well. Beta-glucans may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve blood sugar control in those who already have it. Although scientists believe they have a positive effect on the immune system, as of 2015, studies have not sufficiently proven it.