Spirulina: An Aquatic Superfood?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2833-5905537675_71b25b8ace_m.jpgYou may have heard of spirulina before and wondered what this health supplement is all about.

Spirulina is rare blue-green algae that is a powerhouse of health. It is said to have all the health benefits of multiple fruits and vegetables, yet packed into an algae that is normally fed to fish!

Nutrition

  • Complete Protein: It contains all the amino acids necessary for health. This makes spirulina a great food or supplement for vegetarians and vegans, or for those who eat less meat. However, with the recommended daily dose of 1 teaspoon, you will only be getting 2 grams of protein.
  • B12: One of the few plant sources. Spirulina does not produce B12, but, rather it is a byproduct of animal contamination. No need to worry about contamination and toxicity as long as you are getting your spirulina from a reliable source. In addition, the type of B12 found in spirulina is questionable. We are still unsure if it gets absorbed by the body or not. So, vegetarians and vegans should continue to supplement in other ways.
  • Trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, copper, and manganese in one teaspoon of dried spirulina.
  • Chlorophyll: A pigment found in spirulina that gives it a green color. Can help to improve digestion, improve the circulatory system, and heal the liver.

Serving size: 1 teaspoon

Calories 10 Carbs 0.5g Protein 2g Vitamin A 100% DV
Vitamin K 21% DV B12 47% DV Calcium 7mg Iron 1.5mg
Sodium 15mg Potassium 40mg Phycocyanin 420mg Polysaccharides 200mg
Sulfolipids 40mg Chlorophyll 30mg SOD 5000 Units Carotenoids 10mg
Zeaxanthin 2.5mg Lutein 300mcg GLA 30mg  

Possible Health Benefits

There isn’t any concrete scientific evidence about what spirulina can be used for, but here are a few possible health claims:

  • Alleviate PMS
  • Reduce depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
  • Increase energy
  • Weight loss
  • Better blood glucose control
  • Improve skin tone
  • Decrease inflammation and arthritis
  • Reduce cancer risk

Conclusion

You can buy spirulina in a pill or powder form. But, please remember to buy from a well known brand, and do not take excessive forms of this supplement as it is not well researched.

Spirulina seems to be a superfood and a highly digestible source of protein. But, it is still fairly new on the market, so I would recommend caution when consuming it by only taking the recommended daily dose.

Have you tried spirulina, and if so, have you noticed any health benefits?

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10 Comments

  1. Lally

    Do you mind letting me know what brand of Spirulina you used I have looked on iternet there are so many hard to know which one to choose ? Thanks

    Reply
  2. Voytek

    I’m using spirulina for 2 years now and I think it is really helpful. First and foremost, it is excellent source of protein which is the basis of my specific diet.
    Here you can check the exact amounts of protein and minerals in dried spirulina: it contains 57% of protein (57 gram per 100 gram of product)! And also lots of magnesium.

    Reply
  3. ghalia

    i used spirulina tablets for weight loss,, it did reduced my appetite and i lost 6 kilos in a month ,,but it had some contradictions like dry mouth and sleeping disorder in th first week only then i got used t it,, delayed pms after one mnth by 3 days,,

    Reply
  4. Freddy

    This is one of the so called superfods, highly interesting, gives me energy.

    Reply
  5. Steve

    Hi there,

    I must say i took spirulina in tablet form for awhile as it was recommended by my Iridologist. Its hard to say if it worked as I was also taking other tablets as well. As a side note I do use Chlorophyll in liquid form and find it amazing in reducing body odor to virtually 0.Great for people that don’t like or cant use antiperspirants. Great blog by the way!
    Cheers
    Steve

    Reply
  6. Jim F.

    I’m not convinced about spirulina. For a while I had it in smoothies, but as you’ve implied, empirical evidence of health benefits is sketchy at best.

    Reply
  7. Michael Thomas

    As a health supplement, Spirulina algae is an extremely high protein source with a protein content of 60-70 percent higher than any other natural food and most nutritional products.

    Reply
  8. adelbert enriquez

    Wow I’ve gotta try that spirulina, thanks for this this will really help me!

    Reply
  9. David Daly

    Its important to get spirulina just as you would choose a healthy banana or tomato. I find that tablet form is the best way to take them because it does not taste nice.

    Reply
  10. T. Kallmyer

    I used to add spirulina to my smoothies, but got out of the smoothie habit recently. Also tried it in oatmeal, but really wasn’t a fan of it that way. The product I used recommended that you start with a 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up to a whole teaspoon daily. Some people can have reactions to this algae.

    Reply