Spirulina: The Super Food?

Health Professional

Are you familiar with spirulina? I've heard of this food being referred to as a super food, but I've not looked into it much until today. Let me share what I've learned.

What is spirulina?

Spirulina would be comparable to a sea vegetable such as kelp or wakame. It is both a human and animal food or supplement. Spirulina is a member of the "blue-green" family, but it's not considered algae. It's actually a type of bacteria - cyanobacteria. Its primary source includes two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. Japan is currently the largest producer and consumer of spirulina.

Spirulina can be purchased as a tablet, flake, or powder.

What nutrients are provided by spirulina?

Spirulina is up to 70% protein by weight and contains all the essential amino acids, which makes it a good alternative plant protein source. Spirulina also contains various B vitamins (although not a reliable source for vitamin B12), beta-carotene, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, and zinc.

What are the health benefits have been linked to spirulina?

Many of the vitamins and minerals contained in spirulina have antioxidant properties. Especially relevant if you are trying to treat or prevent heart disease where inflammation plays a major role. These antioxidants work to eliminate toxins and prevent disease.

Some studies have found spirulina to be a natural cancer fighting agent and an effective tool for heavy metal detoxification. The research to date shows the potential for spirulina to play a role in a variety of health issues:

Decreased inflammation
Cholesterol management
Cancer Fighting
Decrease in eye disese
Reduced allergic reactions
Treating and preventing thyroid disorders
Healthier immune system
Improve gut flora and reduced Candida
Blood sugar management
Protection from radiation

How much spirulina?

The recommended dose is 3000 mg per day for adults and 500 to 1500 mg per day for children as use as a preventative. If used as a means of treatment, doses may range between 10,000 to 20,000 mg per day.

Should you supplement spirulina?

Research is ongoing, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend you run out and add this supplement to your daily regime. Depending on your health situation there may be potential benefits of adding spirulina and you should explore the option further with your doctor.

Keep in mind that spirulina is considered a dietary supplement; therefore, it's production and product quality is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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