Spirulina is a “microscopic, spiral-shaped blue-green algae found in the sea and warm, alkaline bodies of freshwater.” Spirulina is considered a super food for your body because it contains super-concentrated sources of protein, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids.
Spirulina contains lots of essential fatty acids, and it’s an ideal food for vegetarians and vegans. It contains B vitamins including B12 and vitamins C, D and E. It also has potassium, calcium, zinc and iron. Besides being packed with vitamins and nutrients, it may also help people lose weight.
Spirulina Health Benefits, Side Effects and Precautions
In human studies spirulina increases the production of antibodies that help fight off chronic diseases like cancer and asthma. It also helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Additionally, it may help enhance energy.
Spirulina is an abundant source of protein. According to Tom Hess a marketing and education director of New Leaf Naturals, Spirulina “contains over 100 nutrients, more than any other plant, grain or herb, and is 60 to 63 percent protein (Nix).
Test tube studies reveal that spirulina may help fight, influenza, HIV and herpes.
Preliminary research suggests spirulina may help protect against liver damage and cirrhosis in people who suffer from chronic hepatitis
Other Spirulina Health Benefits
According to the National Institutes of Health, spirulina is also used for attention deficit-hyperactivity, allergies, anxiety, depression, memory, digestion, wound healing and premenstrual syndrome.
Spirulina Side Effects
As with any medication or supplement, you should always consult your doctor first. Spirulina side effects are not likely as long as you take the recommended dosage. Rarely and at higher than recommended amounts, spirulina side effects may include liver and kidney damage.
The National Institutes of Health also cautions people that more research needs to be done to confirm the health benefits of spirulina, and WebMD reports there is no evidence that it works for weight loss as an appetite suppressant.
Dosage and Precautions
- A regular dose consists of 500 mg a day; however, there is a possibility of side effects and interactions with other medications. So, be sure to speak with your doctor first before taking spirulina. In addition, talk to a doctor before giving spirulina to children.
- Talk with a doctor first before taking spirulina if you are pregnant or nursing.
- People with phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid spirulina because they may not be able to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine.
- People who have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or multiple sclerosis should not consume spirulina because it may make their condition worse.
- Be sure to buy spirulina from a reputable health food store. Spirulina–like any blue-green algae–may be contaminated with toxic substances and bacteria as well as absorb heavy metals from the water, which could have adverse side effects (University of Maryland).
“Blue-Green Algae.” National Institutes of Health.
Nix, Ayn. “Become a Lean, Green Machine.” Better Nutrition. April 2010. Vol 72, Issue 4. pg. 26.
“Popular Over-the-Counter Diet Aids.” WebMd.
“Spirulina.” University of Maryland Medical Center.