Spirulina benefits are commonly recognized by numerous experts. Many times, spirulina gets misclassified as a herb due to its great health-promoting properties, though, it is actually blue-green algae or bacteria that’s found in rivers, ponds, and freshwater lakes. It is widely considerate as one of the most nutritionally complete superfoods in the world, as it provides health benefits to practically every bodily and organ function.
What is spirulina?
Definition: Spirulina is a natural blue-green “algae” (cyanobacteria) powder, which is really high in protein and a great source of B-vitamins, antioxidants, and many other nutrients. When harvested appropriately from non-contaminated bodies of water and ponds, it’s one of the most powerful nutrient sources available 1 .
It got its name from the Latin term for “spiral” or “helix” due to its spring-like physical characteristic. It’s largely made up of essential amino acids and protein and is usually recommended for vegetarians because of its high natural iron content.
The high concentration of iron and protein also makes it ideal after surgery, during pregnancy, or each time your immune system needs a boost.
In the U.S., spirulina is commonly known as an ingredient to add a nutrient boost to green drinks and smoothies and as a nutritional supplement. However, in some other parts of the world, spirulina is considered as a valuable food source to prevent malnutrition.
Spirulina is recommended by many health professionals due to its great nutrient content that can be beneficial for your brain and body 2 . Here are the evidence-based health benefits of spirulina:
- Helps the Body Detox Naturally
Spirulina benefits body cleansing. It has really high concentration of chlorophyll, which is one of nature’s best detoxifying agents. Plus, it has been found to be effective at helping eliminate toxins from the blood, and it binds to radioactive isotopes and heavy metals, making it very helpful for those undergoing radioactive therapy.
Eases PMS Symptoms and Reduces Inflammation
Spirulina is one of the best sources of Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents in nature. Gamma-linolenic acid is also especially beneficial to women, as it could decrease the symptoms of PMS. Moreover, it has 26-times the calcium of milk as well, making it an exceptional nutritional supplement for pregnant women.
- Keeping Eyes Healthy
Spirulina is a perfect supplement for those who have eye issues, or looking to improve their eye health. It is rich in vitamin A – a vitamin that is exceptionally significant for healthy eyes. For this exact same reason, consuming more carrots has long been suggested to those looking to improve their eye health, but this superfood actually has 10 times the vitamin A concentration gram per gram of carrot.
- Supports Digestion
Spirulina benefits don’t stop here! This superfood can ease the passage of waste throughout the digestive system, thus reducing stress on the system. Spirulina also promotes “good” bacteria in the digestive system and can boost the absorption of dietary nutrients.
- Immune Response
Spirulina has long been valued for its ability to improve the immune system. Because it promotes cell regeneration, it assists wounds heal quicker and supports recovery from ailments occur faster. This superfood fortifies one’s immune system and helps prevent colds, flu, and many other contractible illnesses.
Related: Do You Have Just a Cold… or The Flu? Difference Between Cold and Flu
Other Spirulina Benefits
- Spirulina is a source of B- vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide, pyridoxine, folic acid, and cobalamin), vitamin K1, vitamin K2, and vitamin E.
- It’s very high in bio-available iron, making it helpful to those with pregnancy or anemia, with reduced risk of constipation.
- It has 4 times the antioxidant abilities of blueberries.
- As we mentioned before, spirulina is a good source of protein: gram per gram more so than soybeans, fish, poultry, and beef.
It is also a source of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper, chromium, and potassium.
Spirulina Nutrition Facts
Taken as an average of diverse spirulina species, 1 ounce of spirulina contains this nutritional content 3 :
- Dietary fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 39 g
- Sugars: 9g
- Saturated fat: 4% DV
- Total fat: 3% DV
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 351 mg
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 230 mg
- Pantothenic Acid: 10%
- Riboflavin: 60%
- Niacin: 18%
- Thiamin: 44%
- Vitamin K: 9%
- Folate: 7%
- Vitamin E: 7%
- Vitamin C: 5%
- Vitamin B6: 5%
- Vitamin A: 3%
- Iron: 44%
- Copper: 85%
- Magnesium: 14%
- Manganese: 27%
- Potassium: 11%
- Sodium: 12%
- Zinc: 4%
- Selenium: 3%
- Calcium: 3%
- Phosphorus: 3%
*DV – daily value
Note: In contradiction to many beliefs, spirulina isn’t a good source of Vitamin B12 for humans. According to studies, while it does contain some B12, it’s pseudovitamin B12 that isn’t effective or absorbable in humans 4 .
How to Consume Spirulina?
Make sure to choose organic spirulina when buying, as others can have nitrate compounds as additive or can be contaminated.
Spirulina tastes like pond water, so many people prefer using spirulina supplements. You can also mix it with water and drink straight – though some individuals have trouble with this. The phosphorous makes it beneficial for the tooth re-mineralizing regimen, and it’s ideal taken with an Omega-3 source. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties have been beneficial to people with joint pain or some other types of inflammation.
How much spirulina should I consume?
Recommended daily dose of spirulina:
The dose of spirulina used in research examining its properties varies greatly. Generally, 1 to 8 g per day of spirulina has been found to have some effect. However, the exact doses depend on the health condition its being used for:
- For cholesterol: 1 to 8 g a day have been used
- For muscle performance: 2 to 7.5 g a day may be impactful
- For blood glucose control: mild effects have been seen with 2 g daily
- Blood pressure:5 to 4.5 g a day
- Fatty liver:5 g a day showed positive effected
Spirulina is about 1 percent phycocyanobilin by weight and 20 percent C-phycocyanin by weight.
Further studies are required to determine whether spirulina needs to be taken once a day, or in lesser doses, several times per day.
Note: It’s not recommended to exceed the maximum dose mentioned above, as no any clear benefits have been found beyond that level.
Spirulina Possible Side Effects
In general, spirulina is safe to use. However, it is absolutely critical to make sure that the purity and quality of the spirulina that you ingest are of the highest standards. Above all, like everything that comes from the sea, be certain to only buy blue-green algae which are free from contamination. Contaminated spirulina can cause the following, according to WebMD 5 :
- Stomach pain
- Liver damage
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shock, and even death
Likewise, some sources suggest that children and pregnant women shouldn’t consume algae. Consult your health care provider to confirm whether or not you need to use spirulina supplement.
Spirulina is an alga which can be taken as a supplement in either powder or pill form. Today, many health professionals promote spirulina benefits and recommend it as a treatment for a range of heart health and metabolism issues, including high cholesterol, weight loss, and diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). People may also recommend this supplement as an aid for various emotional and mental disorders, including attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), stress, anxiety, and depression.
Does spirulina work? According to NIH, there is not enough scientific evidence to determine if this alga is effective in treating health conditions. Though, spirulina benefits are still appreciated due to its high amounts of niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins, and potassium. It also contains essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of proteins).