The connection between spirulina in your health.
Many natural health experts claim that this super food "spirulina" is incredibly healthy for you.
Spirulina is loaded with nutrients that can have powerful effects both on your body and your brain.
This blue-green algae has been deemed a superfood due to its high levels of vitamins and nutrients.
Many people promote spirulina as a treatment for a range of metabolism and heart health issues, including weight loss, diabetes and high cholesterol, so naturally, when many people claim one food source is said to do all that and more, got my interest.
I had to find out if there is scientific evidence that backs all these claims.
So, let's a take a closer look at "Spirulina" to see if it lives up to all the hypes.
Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating supplement and how it can benefit you.
What is Spirulina?
A spirulina supplement is actually a powdered algae that is incredibly high in nutrients and protein.
When it is grown and harvested from specialty farms instead of contaminated ponds or other body of water, it is considered by most natural health professionals to be one of the most potent sources of nutrients available.
Spirulina consists mostly of essential amino acids and proteins.
Due to his naturally high iron content, it is often recommended as a supplement for vegetarians, pregnant women or anyone who has just undergone surgery.
Spirulina has been used for centuries as a nutritional supplement by various civilizations.
It was a daily staple of the Aztecs throughout the 16th century, and has been found to be used by Africans as far back as the ninth century.
During these times, spirulina would have been harvested from freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers or streams.
It would then be dried and formed into small cakes, which were then eaten as a primary source of protein, minerals and vitamins.
This super food became extremely popular after NASA used it as a dietary supplement for astronauts in space. It has since become a go-to health supplement for various health problems mentioned above.
The health benefits of spirulina
Spirulina is incredibly healthy and nutritious for you.
Here is how nutritious it is.
1 single tablespoon of spirulina (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains:
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA.
- Copper: 21% of the RDA.
- Iron: 11% of the RDA.
Spirulina also contains decent amounts of magnesium, potassium, manganese, and small amounts of almost every other nutrient we need.
All these nutritional content is well within 20 calories and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrate.
Based on the nutrional profile of spirulina, it may be the single most nutritious food around.
A tablespoon of spirulina contains a small amount of fat just (around 1 gram), and also includes both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in about a 1.5:1 ratio.
The quality of the protein in spirulina is considered excellent, comparable to eggs. It contains all the essential amino acids we need.
In the slew of research, many health claims and nutritional profiling of this superfood are proven valid, but there is one that needs a correction. It is often claimed that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but this is false. It contains pseudovitamin B12, which has not been shown to be effective in humans health.
A Powerful Antioxidant
Spirulina does carry a list of health benefits due to its high levels of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are specialized compounds that are known to help combat DNA and cell damage that can lead to heart disease, cancer and various other chronic diseases.
Although the body produces some antioxidants on its open, most are found in food.
A preliminary study of the antioxidant effects of spirulina published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer involved 87 people in India who chewed paan tobacco on a daily basis. This type of tobacco comes from the leaves of the betel tree, which is mixed with various spices to be chewed after meals and special ceremonies.
Individuals who chew this tobacco have an increased risk of developing a type of oral cancer known as oral leukoplakia. The study participants consumed a daily spirulina supplement for 12 months.
At the end of the study, 45% of the participants experienced a complete regression of their oral cancer lesions.
Several studies have been conducted to determine the effect spirulina has on triglycerides and cholesterol.
Although many human trials have been limited to groups of fewer than 100 people, other studies did not have a control group where the participants took a placebo, making it difficult to determine if spirulina has any cholesterol-lowering benefits.
However, one successful study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism involved 78 adults between the ages of 60 and 87 years.
The participants were given either a placebo or an 8-gram spirulina supplement every day for 16 weeks. At the end of the study, the individuals taking spirulina experienced a significant reduction in cholesterol levels.
Spirulina’s nutritional qualities
Spirulina is considered a superfood, and with good reason. It is high in various nutrients, minerals and vitamins that can be difficult to find in other foods. For example:
- Spirulina consists 65% protein and amino acids, which includes GLA (an essential fatty acid)
- Spirulina contains omega fatty acids 3-6 and 9.
- It is high in chlorophyll, which helps to boost the immune system and flush toxins from the blood.
- Spirulina is high in bio-available iron, making it an excellent supplement for those suffering from anemia without the worry of constipation.
- It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, D, A and E.
Spirulina is also a good source of magnesium, copper, chromium, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc.
Is spirulina effective for weight loss?
Although spirulina is often touted as a weight loss supplement, it contains no constituents that will actively burn fat. Its weight loss effect comes from its high levels of protein, which is known to help build lean muscle mass (which burns more calories than fat) and suppress appetite.
These effects are only experienced when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and a consistent exercise routine.
How to take spirulina
Nutrition experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center state that a standard dose of spirulina for an adult is roughly four to six 500mg tablets per day.
Due to the taste of powdered or flaked spirulina supplements, tablets are the most popular choice.
However, if you use spirulina in powdered or flaked forms, such as an ingredient in smoothies, be sure to read the dosage label to ensure you consume enough.
Are spirulina supplements safe?
Due to its long history of being used as a food source, many health professionals consider spirulina to be generally safe. However, when purchasing a spirulina supplement, make sure that it comes from well-known, organic sources.
Inferior products have been known to be contaminated with harmful bacteria and toxic metals due to being grown in unsafe conditions.
These contaminants can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, thirst, shock, rapid heartbeat, liver damage and even death.
These inferior products are especially dangerous to children.
The National Institutes of Health highly recommends thoroughly researching the source of your spirulina supplement to make sure it has been properly tested for toxins and grown in well-monitored, safe conditions.
Individuals who been diagnosed with certain autoimmune disorders should avoid taking spirulina supplements.
Because it has been proven to enhance the immune system, spirulina may actually worsen the symptoms of conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and various other conditions that have been linked to an overactive immune system.
It has also been known to weaken the effects of immunosuppressive drugs.
Spirulina may also weaken the effect of blood thinners or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDS).
If you are looking to supplement your diet with a good quality source of nutrients, proteins and amino acids, spirulina is a great choice.
It is beneficial for not only adults, but is ideal for growing children to ensure they are consuming enough nutrients for optimal growth.