29 reasons to take Spirulina everyday
Contents of the post
- Overview and history
- Recommended or ideal dose of spirulina
- Various types of Spirulina supplements
- How to take Spirulina supplements?
- Nutrition value of spirulina
- Health benefits of spirulina
- Side effects of spirulina
- Myths related to spirulina
- Spirulina in a nutshell
- References and further reading
Overview and history
Spirulina is a microalgae that has attracted many researchers in evaluating the health benefits of Spirulina. Many studies have been conducted worldwide regarding the use of Spirulina in the treatment of cancer, HIV, cholesterol, blood pressure, stroke and many more diseases with positive results. Impressive results have been obtained in almost every studies conducted regarding the potential benefits of Spirulina in boosting immunity and in treating vitamin deficiencies.
Spirulina might be a new name to the developed and developing countries. However, use of Spirulina in history has been recorded by the Aztecs in 16th century and by the inhabitants of the central Africa near Lake Chad in the 9th century.
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What’s the ideal or recommended dose of Spirulina?
According to a report from the University of Maryland Medical Center, recommended dose of Spirulina ranges between 2 -3 gm (2000 – 3000 mg) per day. This dose is broken down into 4 – 6 portions; each of 500 mg.
Please note that the above recommended dose is for adults. While using Spirulina in kids, dose should be reduced according to the age and weight of the child.
Though spirulina is safe for kids, it is advisable to consult a doctor before starting spirulina in kids.
Various types of Spirulina supplements
Well, unlike the Aztecs and traditional African tribes, you don’t have to run around to find the traditional spirulina cakes. Fortunately, many forms of Spirulina supplements are available in the market today. These can be easily purchased today from the health and supplements section of your favorite mall. You can also get these supplements on your doorstep by ordering them online.
- The most flexible form of spirulina supplement.
- You can use spirulina powder in place of table salt in almost every food that you cook or eat.
- It is also the least expensive form of spirulina available in the market today.
- The drawbacks of spirulina powder are a strong flavor, typical salty taste, and typical odor.
- Initially, you may find it difficult to use or consume spirulina powder due to its taste and flavor, but once you are accustomed to it, you will relish this.
- The most preferred and recommended form for beginners.
- Capsules effectively masks the taste and flavor of spirulina.
- These are available as conventional gelatin capsules as well as ‘Veggie’ capsules.
- ‘Veggie’ capsules are little expensive in comparison to gelatin capsules.
- This is an alternative to spirulina capsules.
- Again, just like capsules, tablets are also preferred by beginners.
- This is a more taste friendly version of the spirulina powder.
- Such drink mix’s usually comes with other ingredients like flavor (like chocolate and others) to improve the compliance of the user.
- This is suitable for kids and adults who are ‘taste sensitive’.
- These are similar to your regular energy bars, except that this one contains spirulina as one of its ingredients.
- Again, bars are suitable for kids and adults who are ‘taste sensitive’.
- I will not blame you if you have not heard this one.
- Some companies have launched their spirulina based noodles in the market. This is a relatively new ‘product form’ of spirulina.
- Ideal for kids who love instant noodles.
- You can add spirulina to almost every food that you eat.
- Since spirulina is salty in taste, replace your table salt with spirulina. This way you can sprinkle spirulina on top of any ‘curry’.
- It can also be used in fruit and vegetable juices. Initially, you may find the taste of such juice to be an abstract one, but as soon as you are accustomed to spirulina’s taste, you will relish such preparations.
- Spirulina powder can also be mixed with your favorite smoothie.
How to take Spirulina supplements?
Well, this totally depends on the supplement that you choose.
If you are using spirulina powder, you can use it in place of table salt since spirulina is also salty in taste. This will help you in reducing your sodium intake with added benefits of detoxification.
If you are using spirulina tablets or capsules, take 1 tablet/capsule of 500 mg 4 to 6 times a day with a glass full of water. You can also take 2 tablets or capsules twice or thrice a day with water.
If you are using other forms of spirulina supplements, carefully read the instructions mentioned under ‘Directions for use’. Also read the maximum quantity or dose that can be safely consumed in a day and at once. If possible, check with a pharmacist regarding the quantity or dose that is mentioned.
Please note that pre-prepared food and beverages do contain spirulina, but in a much lesser concentration than tablets and capsules. Hence, you may need to take more of these food and beverages to meet the recommended dose of spirulina.
Nutritional value of spirulina
- about 60% of proteins of its total weight (Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cystine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Alanine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine).
- Thiamine – about 11% of RDA (recommended daily allowances).
- Riboflavin – about 15% of RDA.
- Niacin – about 4% of RDA.
- Pantothenic acid – about 2% of RDA.
- Iron – about 11% of RDA.
- Magnesium – about 3% of RDA.
- Sodium – about 3% of RDA.
- Potassium – about 3% of RDA.
- Copper – about 21% of RDA.
- Manganese – about 7% of RDA.
- Vitamin C – about 1% of RDA.
- Vitamin K – about 2% of RDA.
- Folic acid – about 6.6 µg of RDA from 7 gm of spirulina.
- Omega – 3 – fatty acids – about 57.6 mg from 7 gm of spirulina.
- Calcium – about 12% of RDA.
- Phosphorous – about 17% of RDA.
- Zinc – about 21% of RDA.
- Vitamin B6 – about 28% of RDA.
- Choline – about 33% of RDA.
- Vitamin A – about 7% of RDA as Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
100 gm of spirulina contains:
- Energy – 290 kcal (approx).
- Carbohydrates – 23.9 gm.
- Sugars – 3.1 gm.
- Dietary fibers – 3.6 gm.
- Fat – 7.72 gm
- Saturated fatty acids – 2.65 gm.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids – 0.675 gm.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids – 2.08 gm.
** Please note that the above-mentioned values are approximate ones.
Some of the potential health benefits, as established by numerous scientific studies, are mentioned below:
HIV and AIDS
Many scientific studies have established that regular consumption of Spirulina (5 g every day) stabilizes the levels of CD4+ cells and HIV-1 viral load with absolutely no side effects observed.
Prevention of cancer
Free radicals are known to cause cancer. Anti-oxidants help in neutralizing these free radicals. Spirulina is a rich source of anti-oxidants like phycocyanins, carotenoids and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Significant reductions in precancerous lesions have been observed in individuals chewing tobacco with daily consumption of 3 to 5 g of Spirulina.
Detoxification of heavy metals (Arsenic in particular)
The most affected countries with chronic arsenic poisoning are United States, India, Taiwan, Chile and Bangladesh. The reason behind Arsenic toxicity cases in the United States is the natural occurrence of Arsenic in high levels whereas for the population of other countries mentioned, it is the occurrence of Arsenic in drinking water.
According to a study, regular consumption of Spirulina (3 g or more) may cause a decrease in arsenic concentrations within the body by more than 45%.
Anemia is a condition characterized by reduced hemoglobin. This mainly occurs due to the deficiency of iron within the body. Spirulina is a rich source of Iron and can be beneficial in the treatment of anemias.
The significant reduction has been observed in the levels of LDL, serum triglycerides and total cholesterol levels in individuals taking 3 g to 5 g of Spirulina on daily basis.
Phycocyanin found in Spirulina reverses the endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome. A Mexican study conducted in both men and women reported that with a daily intake of 4.5 g of Spirulina, the rates of high blood pressure were reduced in just 6 weeks without any dietary changes.
Spirulina helps in cutting out hunger. This is because Spirulina is rich in protein and a diet rich in protein gives a feeling of “hunger satisfaction or filled belly”. This is beneficial in individuals who have a habit of eating frequently, irrespective of hunger or body needs. Also, a diet rich in protein requires more energy to metabolize, which means that your body burns more calories in digesting a protein rich diet. Moreover, protein intake also helps in maintaining a lean tissue and promotes fat burning.
Make sure to incorporate a balanced diet and exercise along with Spirulina into your weight loss program.
Combining Spirulina with lime juice boosts the energy levels.
Spirulina may be beneficial to liver health as it prevents liver damage caused by a well-known toxin ‘tetrachloride’. Evidence suggests that Spirulina protects against liver damage, liver cirrhosis, and liver failure.
A study involving type 2 diabetic individuals taking 2 g of Spirulina per day have shown a significant reduction in the blood sugar levels over the duration of 2 months. Levels of HbA1c – a marker in the determination of long-term blood glucose levels were also significantly lowered. The outcome of this study concluded that consumption of Spirulina on a daily basis may decrease the diabetes-related deaths.
Phycocyanin – a component present in Spirulina has the ability to eliminate free radicals and prevent the production of molecules within the body that are responsible for inflammation.
Free radicals can harm the DNA and cells which may lead to cancer, inflammation and many more diseases. Spirulina is a rich source of a wide range of antioxidants that protect your body from free radicals and hence, against these life-threatening diseases.
Effect on brain
Regular consumption of 3 to 5 g of Spirulina on a daily basis protects the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Anti-oxidant and nutrition rich Spirulina has neuroprotective effects due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effect.
Spirulina improves the cognitive ability and mental health. In a study conducted on school children, an improvement in academic performance by 10% was observed in children who were taking Spirulina 2 g on daily basis for 2 months.
A possible explanation for the above event could be L-tryptophan – a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. L-tryptophan is an amino acid and found in abundance in Spirulina. Spirulina also plays an important role in improving memory by reducing oxidative stress.
Muscle strength and endurance
Athletes and physically active individuals often experience muscle fatigue. This occurs mainly due to exercise-induced oxidative stress. Certain studies have shown that daily consumption of Spirulina by 3 to 5 g significantly increases muscle strength and endurance due to the anti-oxidant property of Spirulina.
Allergic rhinitis is characterized by the inflammation of nasal airways. Nasal discharge, sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion are the common symptoms. Animal studies report that Spirulina blocks the release of histamine – a chemical responsible for the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. In a study conducted on 127 individuals with allergic rhinitis, symptoms were dramatically reduced in individuals taking 2 g of Spirulina on daily basis.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms
Fatigue, cramps, bloating and mood swings are some of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Many women, taking 3 to 5 g of Spirulina on a daily basis, have reported a reduction in the symptoms. In some cases where Spirulina was taken for more than 6 months, symptoms were totally absent.
Candida species is a kind of fungus often found in the mucosa of the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. Several animal studies have shown Spirulina as an effective anti-microbial for candida. Also, certain studies have also reported promoting the growth of healthy bacterial flora in intestines with daily consumption of Spirulina.
Skin health and anti-aging
Free radicals are present everywhere in the body, including skin too. These are responsible for the deterioration of skin. Spirulina contains a wide variety of anti-oxidants that neutralizes these free radicals and promotes skin health. Also, with a wide array of nutrients from amino acids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements present in it, Spirulina will make your skin look healthy, glowing, young and smooth.
Many studies on anti-aging have reported the marvelous effects of catalase. Spirulina is also a rich source of catalase.
Due to its inherent antibacterial and anti-viral properties, daily consumption of Spirulina protects the body against bacterial and viral infections. This is particularly beneficial in adults and children who frequently catches a cold.
Phycocyanin is an anti-oxidant present in abundance in Spirulina, is known to increase the number of white blood cells.
Furthermore, a study conducted in senior citizens and animals have shown that Spirulina boosts immunity if taken on a daily basis.
Spirulina is a rich source of calcium and calcium is good for bones. One of the studies conducted has reported that daily intake of Spirulina increases the bone mineral density.
Phycocyanin is a pigment present in Spirulina in abundance. It possesses anti-inflammatory activity that is similar to the one exhibited by NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Daily consumption of NSAID’s has risks and side effects associated with it. Moreover, use of NSAID’s is not recommended on a daily basis. Spirulina is beneficial for such individuals as it has no side effects associated with long-term use.
Richest source of Proteins
Any person thinking of a protein rich diet would probably imagine a meal consisting of egg white, beef or red meat or a whey protein shake. Strict vegetarians would think of lentils, soy products, nuts, and beans as a source of proteins. When proteins from above-mentioned sources are compared with the protein content of Spirulina, proteins from all the above-mentioned sources combined together is not even half of what Spirulina has. To give you the numbers, Spirulina has 65 – 71 percentage of proteins in comparison to lentils which is 26 percent and beef which is 22 percent. To remind you once again, Spirulina is a vegetarian source. Also, Spirulina contains all the essential and non-essential amino acids which make the protein in Spirulina ‘A Complete Protein’.
Vitamins, minerals and trace elements
Spirulina contains almost every vitamins, minerals and trace elements needed by the body. This makes Spirulina a complete food. Daily intake of Spirulina helps in proper functioning of all the organs and organ system of the body.
Spirulina is also a rich source of dietary fibers, which eases the passage of waste through the digestive system. It promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and improves the absorption of nutrients from the digestive system.
It is a well-known fact that vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes. Spirulina is a rich source of vitamin A. In fact, it has 10 times more vitamin A than carrots if compared gram to gram.
Spirulina has all the nutrients that are beneficial in improving sperm and ovum health. With all the anti-oxidants, Spirulina effectively neutralizes the free radicals, which in most of the cases, is the real culprit for infertility.
Cells are the structural and functional unit of the human body. Cells need energy and nutrition to perform their daily and routine functions normally. Spirulina contains all the essential nutrition that promotes cellular health.
Side effects of spirulina
Spirulina is safe for most people. However, just as with any other supplement or medicine, some people may experience side effects. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach pain, Gastric upset
- Spirulina is rich in proteins and other dietary substances which are hard to digest (only if you take large doses at once or total dose in a day).
- Reduce the dose of spirulina to 1 tablet or capsule of 500 mg to once a day.
- If the problem persists, change your supplement. Use another supplement which has spirulina sourced from other regions.
- As a thumb rule, avoid using supplements which have spirulina sourced from waters around China and Japan. The main reason to do this is that the waters in that area are highly polluted or contaminated. So there are high chances that the spirulina is also contaminated with toxic substances and pollutants.
Avoid using spirulina if you are:
- Suffering from multiple sclerosis
- Lupus (Systemic lupus erythematosus)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Pemphigus Vulgaris
- Other autoimmune disorders
- All of the disorders mentioned above are autoimmune disorders. Spirulina might cause the immune system to get more active, which in turn may worsen the symptoms of the above mentioned auto-immune disorders.
- This is a rare inherited metabolic disorder which inhibits the metabolism (catabolism) of an amino acid known as ‘phenylalanine’. If phenylalanine gets accumulated, it leads to severe brain and central nervous system damage.
- This is also the reason why spirulina is not recommended during pregnancy. Because if the baby in the womb is suffering from phenylketonuria, there is absolutely no way to diagnose this condition before the birth of the baby. This can become a potentially life-threatening situation for the unborn baby.
Myths related to spirulina
I am sure that you must have come across this suggestion of taking spirulina for Vitamin B12 deficiency.
People believe that spirulina replenishes the B12 deficiency. But, nothing can be further from the truth.
Naturally, spirulina does not contain Vitamin B12. What it contains is a pseudo-Vitamin B12 (False Vitamin B12), which is Coα-[α-(7-adenyl)]-Coβ-cyanocobamide. This particular form of Vitamin B12 is biologically inactive in humans.
American Dietetic Association states that spirulina is not a reliable source of Vitamin B12 for humans.
Similar advises can be found in medical literature which mentions spirulina as an unsuitable source of Vitamin B12 for humans.
‘Spirulina is beneficial in treating cancer and it can be taken at any time of the day.’
Well, what’s said above is not a myth. But there’s a catch and it’s on when and how to use spirulina when a person is taking the treatment of cancer.
Treatment of cancer is done either by chemotherapy or radiotherapy or by both. Spirulina is rich in antioxidants. Anything which is rich in antioxidants should be avoided as antioxidants reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy.
So how does a person use spirulina in fighting cancer?
Ask your doctor about the half-life of the medicines and radiation therapy that you are taking.
For example, If the half-life of a medicine which you are taking is 24 hours, you should not consume spirulina before 24 hours of taking medicine for cancer. Also, don’t take any supplement which is rich in anti-oxidants before 24 hours of your dose of cancer medicine or radiation.
You can consult with your pharmacist or doctor to find more information on this topic.
‘Spirulina replenishes vitamin D deficiency.’
Spirulina contains vitamin D, but to a very little extent, which is much lesser than the recommended daily allowances (RDA).
Spirulina certainly helps in fulfilling your daily needs of vitamin D, but it cannot serve as a standalone source of vitamin D.
The only 2 effective ways to replenish vitamin D deficiency are:
- Exposing your bare skin to sunlight to get Ultraviolet B rays.
- Vitamin D supplements.
Spirulina in a nutshell
- Spirulina is blue-green algae which contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutritive ingredients. It is quite healthy for your body.
- Spirulina is a fascinating thing due to its physical properties, immense health benefits which it offers and due to the history of its usage.
- Spirulina gets its unique blue-green color from a pigment called ‘phycocyanin’, which has immense health benefits.
- It contains all the essential amino acids, almost every vitamin, and minerals along with antioxidants.
- Consumption of Spirulina is documented in history from the 9th
- A large variety of Spirulina supplements are available in the market today. This provides the consumer with a flexibility of selecting a supplement of his/her choice. Or rather should I say a large number of option to choose from to stay fit and healthy.
- Take 500 mg of Spirulina 4 to 6 times a day to gain maximum health benefits.
- Spirulina from a good, nonpolluted and noncontaminated source is safe and free from side effects for the majority of the consumers.
- Avoid taking Spirulina if you are pregnant, breastfeeding mother, suffering from autoimmune disorder and phenylketonuria.
- Taking spirulina is a good way to detoxify your body since it is able to absorb contaminants or pollutants like heavy metals.
- Spirulina is a very good source of protein. Hence, Spirulina supplements should be considered as a source of protein.
- Spirulina contains almost every vitamins and mineral.
- Due to antihistaminic properties of Spirulina, it may be a good alternative to treat allergy naturally.
- Spirulina also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Spirulina helps in fighting oxidative stress and in removing free radicals from the body since it is rich in antioxidants.
- Initial studies suggest that Spirulina may be effective in preventing neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Initial studies suggest that Spirulina may be effective in treating the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.
- Initial studies suggest that Spirulina may be effective in hypertension.
- Spirulina is beneficial in improving the overall lipid profile. It does so by reducing the levels of bad cholesterol and improving the levels of HDL cholesterol.
- Spirulina is also beneficial in reducing the levels of triglycerides.
- In the years to come, Spirulina may become an effective way to battle and prevent cancer.
- Spirulina also helps in improving muscle endurance and strength.
- Since Spirulina is rich in Iron, it helps in increasing the hemoglobin content of RBC’s – an alternate but effective approach to treat anemia.
- Certain animal and human studies suggest that Spirulina is effective in maintaining blood sugar levels. It may be helpful in reducing the levels of HbA1c marker; thereby reducing the number of deaths related to diabetes.
- Initial studies suggest that Spirulina may be beneficial in counteracting the liver damage.
- Spirulina can be a good companion in your journey of weight loss. Since Spirulina is rich in proteins, it gives a feeling of ‘satiety’. It also boosts up the metabolism.
- Spirulina may be helpful in fighting candida infections.
- Spirulina is beneficial to patients suffering from HIV and AIDS.
- In both these conditions, immunity of the patient is compromised or reduced. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins in Spirulina helps in increasing the immunity of such immune-compromised patients.
- Spirulina is beneficial if you are looking for an anti-aging supplement.
- Free radicals have a denting effect on skin, due to which a person looks older than his actual age. Antioxidants in Spirulina helps in neutralizing these free radicals and in keeping the skin fresh and youthful.
- Spirulina should also be researched for its efficacy in treating hepatitis C.
- Spirulina may be beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis and hence a stroke.
- Spirulina may be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis.
- Spirulina helps in reducing inflammation, pain, and swelling.
- Spirulina improves immunity, which helps in the prevention of ‘catching infections’.
- Spirulina is good for gut health.
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