You’ve heard it said often that nature provides everything we need to survive. This is true. Granted, nature may not provide everything we want, but it does provide everything we need. One of the most abundant sources of nutrition and health is our oceans. One of the things the oceans provide is Spirulina, a scientifically proven source of nutritional needs and health benefits. Let’s take a look at the many things Spirulina can offer you when used appropriately.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is an algae that boast a green-blue coloring. It is found in the salty alkaline oceans in Asia, Africa, and Central America. This spiral-shaped plant grows freely in these areas and is sometimes in such a great quantity the waters surrounding it take on its coloring. In the United States, it has to be “farmed”. The unique environment that it grows in, specifically alkaline water, has made it considered by NASA as a possible nutritional source on space missions.
Records indicating the use of Spirulina go back to usage by the Aztecs. At the same time, these same algae were harvested in the Sahara Desert. Today, you can find Spirulina in pill or powder form in the nutritional supplement aisle of most stores and on the shelves of health food stores. Ongoing studies have indicated the possible benefits of this supplement. It is no mystery when you see, what this superfood contains.
Protein, Carbohydrate, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, Vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid)
With all these nutrients, it is no wonder that people are starting to praise the daily use of this supplement. Let’s take a list of some of the many benefits of Spirulina.
11 Spirulina Health Benefits
Spirulina has been undergoing scientific studies for some now and the possible benefits are numerous. Here are eleven of the benefits that are considered to be studied well. In addition to the benefits listed below, Spirulina has shown promise in helping alleviate symptoms of HIV and Hepatitis, relieve menstrual cramps and lower blood sugar levels. It has yet to be determined where the benefits of Spirulina end.
Rich in Protein.
Spirulina boasts a full fifty to seventy percent protein by weight. It also contains Vitamin B-12. Those ho follow a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can certainly benefit from the added protein. For those who do have meat in their diets, you know how expensive meats can be. It would help to have an additional source of protein that could help you save money on your grocery bills. Many people find they are deficient in Vitamin B-12, which can result in eye problems and depression. The human body can’t produce B-12 and it is normally only found in animal products. Being able to get that additional B-12 can be a great benefit.
Studies have shown that Spirulina inhibits the release of histamines, which are the culprits in allergy symptoms. With regular use, it has been shown that symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and other symptoms, such as nasal stuffiness, of an allergic reaction are greatly reduced.
Some of the greatest health problems in the United States are those related to the heart. These include high cholesterol and high blood pressure. While the greatest way to keep these things under control is to consume a healthy diet and participate in regular exercise, studies have shown that regular ingestion of blue-green algae has lowered both in elderly patients. Spirulina alone won’t cure either of these but may help reduce the number of medications you require to control both.
While more research needs to be conducted, several studies have been promising in regards to Spirulina reducing pre-cancerous abscesses that are in the mouth. Many of those who smoke or chew tobacco products are at increased risk to oral cancers. Nothing has yet been studied about whether or not oral cancer might be reduced, but the benefits on the early lesions are promising.
The nutrients in Spirulina are high in anti-oxidants and have been found to boost the immune systems of the elderly. Regular consumption has been shown to prevent viral infections. Over time, white blood cell counts are shown to increase. These cells are the ones that fight illness in the human body. This increase is thought to be the reason immunity is boosted.
Improves Brain health.
Spirulina has been shown to improve cognitive functioning over a period of time. It contains L-tryptophan, which is necessary for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter plays a large part in mood regulation and sleep. Memory loss has been slowed with regular use of this supplement. Degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have been shown to slow with the addition of Spirulina to diet. It has also been shown to help with concentration, which may help those with ADHD focus better without any, or at least a reduction of dosage, medication.
We are subject to many impurities every day. They come in the air we breathe, the foods we eat and in many other places we don’t realize. Spirulina contains antioxidants that can help protect your body from the effects of these toxic substances. Inflammation not only causes pain but also is the cause of many diseases. Phycocyanin, which gives Spirulina its color, has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation. Considering the regular use of medication to deal with the pain and swelling of inflammation has many irreversible side-effects, being able to reduce it even partially can help keep other organs in your body safer.
Anemia is a blood condition that is caused by the lack of red blood cells. Those with anemia often feel constantly tired and may feel cold all the time. This condition is especially prevalent in the elderly population. One study showed that Spirulina not only boosted the immunity of the elderly participants but it also helped increase the productivity of red blood cells, alleviating the anemia.
Studies have been conducted on athletes, who often fall victim to oxidative effects that cause them to lose strength and endurance. Spirulina improved both strength and endurance in half the studies and improved strength only in the other half. It remains to be seen how other studies turn out in regards to the endurance benefits for athletes, but the muscle strength enhancement is showing great promise.
Spirulina contains all eight of the essential amino acids you require. This is great news for your skin. The nutrients help increase the rate at which your skin rejuvenates; reducing the sallow look that is often present when skin production slows due to aging. The health benefits provided also add a glow to skin and help keep the moisture. This is due to the detoxing properties that are needed to undo the damage created by the free radicals that attack your skin on a daily basis.
Your bones need calcium to stay strong. As we age, our bones begin to lose their density. Regular use of Spirulina, which contains a high amount of calcium, has shown to help improve bone density. This could help prevent or slow the process of such disorders as osteo-arthritis and osteoporosis. This news is very encouraging to those who are lactose intolerant and may not be getting the required amount of calcium. Calcium supplements have been known to cause constipation, creating even more discomfort for those who take them. Spirulina may make the need for such supplements unnecessary.
Side Effects of Spirulina
Being a natural substance, this supplement is perfectly fine in the majority of people who use it. It is important to keep a few things in mind. Spirulina tends to absorb the things in the water around it so it is important to know where your particular source originates. If not careful, it is possible that it may contain heavy metals that can cause damage to your body. Most of the contaminated product comes from the shores of China and Japan, but do research to ensure your source is safe. Secondly, when it comes to nutritional supplements, more is not better. Read any instructions that come with your supply and do not take more than is recommended.
This product is not recommended for a few groups of individuals because it has the potential of either making the disorder or it hasn’t been tested long enough to know what usage might do. Avoid using any blue-green algae product if:
You have Phenylketonuria, which is a rare genetic disorder.
You are pregnant or breast-feeding. Studies haven’t yet determined the effect on a baby.
You suffer from any auto-immune disease. Properties can cause the body to increase the immunity overload already present and it may decrease the effects of any medications taken for these disorders.
That said, taking Spirulina as indicated on the package has shown to be relatively free of side effects. Of those who have experienced such, these include:
- Slight fever
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
Daily Dosage of Spirulina
First and foremost consult your doctor before you take any Spirulina tablets, According to the studies conducted the average daily dosage for Adult is 500 mg (0.5 grams).
- For Heart Patients – 2 Grams to 4 Grams of Spirulina
- For Weight Loss – 2 Grams to 4 Grams of Spirulina
- To Decrease serum cholesterol, triglycerides and free fatty acid levels – 2 Grams of Spirulina
- For Anti-inflammatory and Muscle repair -2 Grams to 4 Grams of Spirulina
Further Research is required on Dosage. Find more on Dosage.
Spirulina comes in both tablet and powder forms. With the tablet, it’s a quick drink of water and you are done. Many people, however, find taking pills difficult. Besides, it can be fun trying new things and the powder has so many possible uses. Here are a few to get the wheels turning. Once you try this, there is no doubt you will think of many others.
- Blend in a smoothie – Green smoothie recipes abound. Try adding a teaspoonful or two to your favorite smoothie recipe
- Salad dressing – Try mixing up a herb dressing and adding Spirulina to it and pour over the salad of your choice.
- Add to baked goods and bread – Adding one or two Tablespoons of Spirulina will not only add a touch of green coloring but will also add the nutrition.
- Stir into juice or tea – Some people enjoy the taste of Spirulina plain and add only it to water. If you prefer something that can mask the taste a bit, try mixing a teaspoonful into your daily juice or tea.
- Blend into pasta sauce – Spirulina plays well with others and will give an added “something” to your sauce that will have people trying to figure out your “secret ingredient”
- Add to soups – Soups are notorious for being different every time you make them. Add Spirulina to your next veggie soup or use it to enhance some cream of asparagus or tomato soup.
- Include in energy bars – Energy bars come with all matter of ingredients. The next time you make up a batch of bars, or energy balls, include a tablespoon or two of Spirulina for added energy and nutrition.
- Add to homemade ice cream – This one is especially good for those who make their own vegan ice creams. Adding Spirulina will not only give it more nutrition but will also give it an excellent blue-green color.
- Enhance breakfast – Add some Spirulina to your pancake batter or mix it into your scrambled eggs or an omelet to start your day with an added boost
The possibilities for use are virtually endless and only limited by your imagination!
It seems like every week you hear of some new “superfood” that you just can’t survive without. Some have scientific evidence to back them up and others don’t. Spirulina is one of those with scientific and historic evidence to back up its claims. Can you live without it? Of course, you’ve made it this far in life without it. However, you have nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain by giving it a trial run. You can’t go wrong adding some more vitamins and important minerals to your diet. In addition, many vegans like blue-green algae products because they are the only plants that contain Vitamin B12, one of the vitamins that the body can’t produce and one that is only available in meat products. Spirulina is something worth adding to your diet.