Spirulina is a simple one-celled, blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria). There are two species, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. The Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima species were once classified in the genus Spirulina. There is now agreement that they are in fact Arthrospira; nevertheless, and somewhat confusingly, the older term Spirulina remains in use for historical reasons.

Spirulina Natural Environment

Spirulina can be found in many freshwater environments, including ponds, lakes and rivers. It thrives best under pesticide-free conditions with plenty of sunlight and moderate temperature levels, but it is also highly adaptable, surviving even in extreme conditions.

More than 25,000 species of algae live everywhere; in water, in soils, on rocks and on plants. They range in size from a single cell to giant kelp over 150 feet long. Macroalgae are large like seaweeds. Microalgae are microscopic. Ocean microalgae, called phytoplankton, form the basis of the ocean food web.

Under a microscope, spirulina appears as long, thin, blue-green spiral threads.The odour and taste of spirulina is similar to seaweed.

Nutritional Value of Spirulina

Spirulina is often deemed the most nutritionally complete of all food supplements, containing a rich supply of many important nutrients, including; protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, vitamin Avitamin K, and B complex vitamins.

Spirulina has a high supply of carotenoids, such as beta carotene and yellow xanthophylls, which have antioxidant properties. It is rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids. Thus, spirulina has countless uses as a supplement for maintaining good health and for preventing diseases.

Iron Content in Spirulina

Iron is essential to build a strong system, yet is the most common mineral deficiency. Spirulina is rich in ironmagnesium and trace minerals, and is easier to absorb than iron supplements.

Vitamin B12 Content in Spirulina

Spirulina registers as having a high level of B12 in labaratory tests, however there does seem to be lots of evidence that the B12 is in a slightly different form than that which can easily be absorbed by humans, so it is debatable how much good this B12 will do you.

The form of vitamin B12 present in spirulina is not the biologically active form found in animal products. Instead, spirulina contains analogs of vitamin B12, known as pseudovitamin B12, which are inactive and may even interfere with the absorption of true vitamin B12.

Research suggests that consuming spirulina may not reliably provide a significant source of bioavailable vitamin B12, especially for individuals following a vegetarian or vegan diet who rely on plant-based sources of this nutrient. The presence of pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina can be misleading, as it may register as vitamin B12 in laboratory tests but does not offer the same physiological benefits as true vitamin B12.

For individuals who avoid animal products and rely on plant-based sources of vitamin B12, such as spirulina or fortified foods, it’s essential to monitor their vitamin B12 status regularly and consider supplementation with a reliable source of active vitamin B12 (such as cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin) if needed. Alternatively, consuming fortified foods or taking a vitamin B12 supplement specifically formulated for vegetarians and vegans can help ensure an adequate intake of this essential nutrient.

It seems to be only B12 that has this absorption issue. The rest of the nutrients in Spirulina do seem to be bio-actively available to the body.

Spirulina for Cancer Protection

Spirulina is the richest beta carotene food, with a full spectrum of ten mixed carotenoids. About half are orange carotenes: alpha, beta and gamma, and half are yellow xanthophylls. They work synergistically at different sites in our body to enhance antioxidant protection.

Twenty years of research proves eating beta carotene rich fruits and vegetables gives us real anti-cancer protection.

Synthetic beta carotene has not always shown these benefits. Research in Israel showed natural beta carotene from algae was far more effective. Natural is better assimilated and contains the key 9-cis isomer, lacking in synthetic. Natural carotenoids found in algae and vegetables have the most antioxidant and anti-cancer power.

Anti-Aging Effects of Spirulina

Spirulina is an ideal anti-aging food; concentrated nutrient value, easily digested and loaded with antioxidants. Beta carotene is good for healthy eyes and vision. Spirulina beta carotene is ten times more concentrated than carrots.

Healthy Dieting with Spirulina

About 60% of dry weight spirulina is protein, which is essential for growth and cell regeneration. It is a good replacement for fatty and cholesterol-rich meat and dairy products in one’s diet. Every 10 grams of spirulina can supply up to 70% of the minimum daily requirements for iron, and about three to four times of minimum daily requirements for vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), vitamin B complex, vitamin D and vitamin K.

While spirulina itself may not directly contain vitamin C, its nutrient profile and bioactive compounds may complement the effects of vitamin C and support its potency when consumed together. Spirulina is rich in antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. These antioxidants, along with bioactive compounds like polysaccharides and peptides, may enhance the absorption and bioavailability of vitamin C, ensuring its effectiveness in the body. Additionally, spirulina’s immune-supporting properties and synergistic effects with vitamin C may further contribute to overall health and well-being.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid in Spirulina

Spirulina is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a compound found in breast milk that helps develop healthier babies.

Spirulina to Fight Malnutrition

With its high digestibility, Spirulina has been proven to fight malnutrition in impoverished communities. Its nutrient-dense composition, easy cultivation and versatility make it an accessible and cost-effective source of nutrition. Spirulina’s ability to thrive in diverse environmental conditions allows for local production, empowering communities to meet their nutritional needs sustainably.

Regular consumption of spirulina can improve overall health, support growth and development and prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Spirulina to Increase Stamina

Spirulina increases stamina and immunity levels in athletes, and its high protein content helps build muscle mass. At the same time, it can curb hunger that may develop during the most demanding training routines. Thus, spirulina indirectly acts as an effective way to maintain an athlete’s ideal body weight.

Spirulina Helps to Fight Disease

As well as beta carotene, Spirulina contains other nutrients such as; iron, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium and chromium. These nutrients help fight free radicals, cell-damaging molecules absorbed by the body through pollution, poor diet, injury or stress. By removing free radicals, the nutrients help the immune system fight cancer and cellular degeneration.

Spirulina to Help Fight Cancer

In some findings, spirulina has helped to reduce oral cancer tumors in laboratory rats, and may thus provide a big medical breakthrough in cancer treatment.

While research on spirulina’s effects on oral cancer tumors is ongoing, preliminary studies suggest that spirulina may possess anticancer properties that could help reduce tumor development. Spirulina contains antioxidants that neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, as well as anti-inflammatory compounds that may inhibit cancer cell growth.

Additionally, spirulina has been shown to modulate immune function, induce apoptosis in cancer cells, and inhibit angiogenesis, all of which could contribute to its potential effectiveness against oral cancer.

Further research, including clinical trials in humans, is needed to confirm these findings and determine the optimal role of spirulina in cancer prevention and treatment. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals before using spirulina as a complementary approach to cancer care.

Cardiovascular Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina has the ability to reduce the bad cholesterol LDL in the body. This helps to prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases, such as hardening of the arteries and strokes. It also helps to lower blood pressure.

Spirulina Supports the Digestive System

Research confirms that spirulina promotes digestion and bowel function. It suppresses bad bacteria such as E. coli, and Candida yeast, and stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Healthy flora is the foundation of good health. It increases absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat, and helps protect against infection. Spirulina’s ability to build a healthy lactobacillus culture also helps to relieve constipation.

Spirulina to Remove Toxins

In 1994, a Russian Patent was awarded for spirulina as a medical food to reduce allergic reactions from radiation sickness. 270 Children of Chernobyl consuming 5 grams a day for 45 days (donated by Earthrise Farms), lowered radionuclides by 50%, and normalized allergic sensitivities.

Today we are subject to an onslaught of toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and drugs. Our bodies need to continually eliminate these accumulated toxins. Spirulina has a completely unique combination of phytonutrients – including chlorophyll, phycocyanin and polysaccharides, that can help cleanse our bodies.

While not clinically proven, spirulina may protect against allergic reactions and liver infection. Its rich nutritional content and bioactive compounds contribute to various mechanisms that may help mitigate these conditions.

Spirulina’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation in the body, while its antioxidant activity neutralizes harmful free radicals, supporting overall health and immune function. Additionally, spirulina modulates immune function, aids in detoxification and exhibits antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which may help prevent allergic reactions and reduce the risk of liver infections.

How to Take Spirulina

Spirulina is cultivated worldwide. It is used as a dietary supplement as well as a whole food. It is also available in tablet, flake and powder form.

Many health drinks and tonics contain spirulina as part of their ingredients.

Sources for these forms of spirulina are normally laboratory-grown. Harvesting spirulina from more natural settings has posed a challenge because of possible contamination from toxic substances that cannot be removed from the product. Hopefully, more eco-friendly and safer ways to cultivate the algae can eventually be developed and perfected.

Where to Buy Spirulina


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Spirulina Notes / Side Effects

Latin Names

There are two species, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.

Common Names

Macroalgae, Phytoplankton, Spirulina. blue-green algae.

Uses of Spirulina

AIDS/HIV, arthritis, athletic nutrition, enhancing natural cleansing and detoxification, supporting cardiovascular function and healthy cholesterol, strengthening the immune system, improving gastrointestinal and digestive health, reducing cancer risks with antioxidant protection, general and long term health.

Spirulina Precautions and Contraindications

While it has a very high nutritional value, spirulina may also cause some side effects. Some individuals may suffer from allergic reactions to this algae, including rashes, hives and difficulty breathing.

Some commercial versions of spirulina supplements may have also been contaminated with toxic substances during production. It is therefore absolutely critical to buy spirulina only from reputable sources.

People with the rare metabolic condition phenylketonuria (PKU) are not able to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, and therefore should avoid taking spirulina. Likewise, people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or lupus should not take spirulina, as it could stimulate the immune system and worsen the condition.

Spirulina may also counteract the effectiveness of certain medicines, such as prednisone, which are commonly used for treating asthma and other inflammatory diseases.

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