Latin name: Arthrospira maxima and Arthrospira platensis
Spirulina is a blue-green saltwater algae that has existed on earth for 3.5 billion years. Spirulina is one of the richest natural sources of vitamins and minerals in the world of all foods. For example, spirulina is called nature's multivitamin. Spirulina is the most powerful, nutritious, and concentrated green food known to mankind
The microscopic single-celled algae has a spiral shape and is therefore called spirulina. Algae are found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. Mainly in lakes rich in basic minerals and therefore with a high pH. Spirulina is therefore strongly alkaline and promotes a good acid-base balance in the body. The highest concentrations of naturally occurring spirulina are found today in Lake Texcoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa, and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.
Today's spirulina is mainly cultivated commercially in special saltwater ponds.
Spirulina is a very ancient food and has been used in many cultures for thousands of years. For example, it was known to the Aztecs and nature peoples in Africa, such as the Kanembu in Lake Chad. For millions of people in Mexico City, spirulina has been their primary source of protein for thousands of years!
Color pigments - antioxidants
Spirulina algae contain many natural pigments, such as carotenoids (orange), xanthophylls (yellow), phycocyanin (blue) and chlorophyll (green). These antioxidants protect the cells of the body against free radicals. Spirulina therefore seems to have a measurable antioxidant effect in humans .
The richest source of beta-carotene is not carrots, but spirulina. Beta-carotene is known to give the skin a tan. People who have a lot of antioxidants in their diet and therefore have a fresh tan are considered more attractive than those who have tanned skin in the sun or in tanning beds [2, 3].
Chlorophyll & Phycocyanin
Spirulina owes its blue-green color to chlorophyll and phycocyanin, two substances with very interesting properties for the body. Chlorophyll increases the concentration of oxygen in the body and promotes the detoxification process. Chlorophyll helps fight all forms of bacterial infections, stimulates heart function, and ensures healthy blood and lymph nodes. The green blood of plants (chlorophyll) has an anti-inflammatory effect and supports the immune system.
Phycocyanin is a blue pigment that acts like erythropoietin (EPO) in the body. EPO is the hormone that regulates the bone marrow during the production of red blood cells (erythrocytes) and white blood cells (leukocytes). Phycocyanin stimulates the immature or damaged immune system to develop or repair itself when it has been infiltrated with infections, toxins or radiation. Phycocyanin helps stimulate the production of stem cells.
Spirulina contains over 60% protein and contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein. The biological value is high for a vegetable protein source.
Spirulina is therefore a perfect source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
The richest source of GLA is breast milk. The body makes GLA from essential fatty acids (EFAs). Certain factors (nutritional and genetic) can make this conversion difficult, such as magnesium and vitamin B6 deficiencies. A Polish study shows that GLA is the most common fatty acid deficiency . Few foods contain GLA. Spirulina contains the highest concentration of green foods. The only other superfood with comparatively high levels of GLA is hemp seed.
GLA may be the main contributor to the allergy reducing properties of spirulina [5, 6].
Although it is often stated on the Internet that spirulina contains vitamin B12, this is not true. Spirulina contains analogues of B12, but no active B12. This means that various analogs of cyanocobalamin are present in algae, but it is not yet useful B12 for the body . Pseudo B12 is not biologically active in humans and spirulina does not appear to increase the value of vitamin B12 in the blood.
Spirulina protects the muscles of runners during intensive training and increases endurance. Taiwanese researchers who carried out experiments with students discovered it. The Taiwanese gave half of the group 7.5 grams of spirulina in 0.5 gram capsules every day for three weeks. A control group received soy protein capsules.
After those three weeks, the researchers got the students to walk on a treadmill. Every few minutes, they increased the speed and incline, then watched the students drop out. Students who took spirulina had more stamina.
Spirulina increased the production of protective enzymes in the muscles. The markers of muscle damage, on the other hand, were reduced because of spirulina .
Spirulina contains a lipopolysaccharide (LPS - a complex sugar molecule) unique to spirulina. Spirulina polysaccharide reacts in much the same way as phycocyanin. It is very powerful and activates the immune system. It improves the ability to detect and destroy foreign germs or bacteria and the ability to detoxify. It also increases the accumulation of T cells and improves the function of the thymus. All this makes spirulina a real booster of the immune system .
Spirulina has been shown to lower cholesterol levels [1, 9]. Spirulina seems to have a protective function against hay fever. Spirulina can relieve allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis includes allergies and hay fever. The study found that spirulina significantly improved symptoms and physical signs compared to the placebo group, including runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching [5, 6].
Spirulina also appears to be used for high blood pressure, with upper and lower pressure falling in people with hypertension who took 4.5 grams of spirulina per day for six weeks .
Muscle degradation is reduced / neutralized by spirulina . This is of particular interest to the elderly, since sarcopenia is common among them. The term "sarcopenia" refers to the loss of muscle mass and the concomitant reduction in muscle strength, a direct consequence of aging. One explanation is reduced mobility and lower hormone levels.
In a 12-week study of 40 people with an average age of 63, three grams of spirulina were taken daily. Not only an increase in the number of white blood cells was observed, but also a marked increase in the level of hemoglobin in the blood . Hemoglobin is, among other things, responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood.
Usage and Safety
Spirulina is available in tablet form as a powder or natural sprinkles. Sprinkles are the purest form, but tablets or capsules can also work. Make sure that no unnecessary additives or fillers are used.
Spirulina can be used in a green shake or smoothie or a salad.
Spirulina is a food, it is difficult to give an exact dose. To give an indication: 5 to 10 grams per day is a good health support. Because spirulina is a food, an upper limit cannot be specified. Some athletes / athletes use 60 grams of spirulina per day!
Spirulina is very safe . Spirulina is also a wise and responsible choice during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Spirulina contains a very wide range of concentrations rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many other substances beneficial to health, it is a real nutritional bomb. Algae can rightly be called the “multi of nature”. The scientific evidence for the health benefits of spirulina is overwhelming. Spirulina is strongly alkaline and contributes to the deacidification of the body in order to create a healthy acid-base balance. Spirulina is safe and can be considered nutrition, super nutrition!
1. Park HJ, Lee YJ, Ryu HK, et al. A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study to establish the effects of spirulina in elderly Koreans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;52(4):322-8.
2. Ian D. Stephen, Vinet Coetzee, David I. Perrett. Carotenoid and melanin pigment coloration affect perceived human health. Evolution and Human Behavior (2010).
3. Whitehead RD, Re D, Xiao D, et al. You are what you eat: within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32988.
4. Dobryniewski J, Szajda SD, Waszkiewicz N, et al. [The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)--the therapeutic value] Przegl Lek. 2007;64(2):100-2.
5. Mao TK, Van de Water J, Gershwin ME. Effects of a Spirulina-based dietary supplement on cytokine production from allergic rhinitis patients. J Med Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):27-30.
6. Cingi C, Conk-Dalay M, Cakli H, et al. The effects of spirulina on allergic rhinitis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Oct;265(10):1219-23.
7. Watanabe F, Katsura H, Takenaka S, et al. Pseudovitamin B12 is the predominant cobamide of an algal health food, spirulina tablets. J Agric Food Chem. 1999; 47:4736-4741.
8. Lu HK, Hsieh CC, Hsu JJ, et al. Preventive effects of Spirulina platensis on skeletal muscle damage under exercise-induced oxidative stress. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Sep;98(2):220-6.
9. Torres-Duran PV, Ferreira-Hermosillo A, Juarez-Oropeza MA. Antihyperlipemic and antihypertensive effects of Spirulina maxima in an open sample of Mexican population: a preliminary report. Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Nov 26;6:33.
10. Selmi C, Leung PS, Fischer L, et al. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. Cell Mol Immunol. 2011 May;8(3):248-54.
11. Chamorro-Cevallos, G.; B.L. Barron, J. Vasquez-Sanchez (2008). Gershwin, M.E.. ed. "Toxicologic Studies and Antitoxic Properties of Spirulina". Spirulina in Human Nutrition and Health (CRC Press).