Spirulina: What You Need to Know

Herbal Medicine
Jun 07, 2013
Herbal Medicine Have you ever tried spirulina? The blue-green algae certainly has a lot going for it – it’s protein-packed, rich in vitamins and minerals and may help ward off infections. In this article, we answer all your questions about this ancient super food.

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is a micro salt water plant hailing from Africa and South America, where it has been enjoyed as a dietary supplement for eons. It was introduced to the west in the 1970s and since then has been heralded as an ultra-nutritious supplement.  In fact, it’s so good for us that NASA sent it to space for their astronauts to tuck into!

Interestingly, spirulina absorbs nutrients from the water in which it grows. This can pose a hazard if the water contains heavy metals, as the spirulina will suck it in. This is why it’s important to check the source of any spirulina you buy.

What are the Health Benefits of Spirulina?

According to Australian Spirulina, the algae contains more than 100 nutrients. So it’s no wonder spirulina is named as the world’s most complete food source.

Spirulina contains:
  • Amino acids
  • Vitamin B12 and Vitamin E
  • Iron
  • Gamma Linolenin Acid (GLA): an omega-6 fatty acid
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • High beta carotene levels
  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorophyll
  • Protein: it has more protein than meat!

What the Science Says

Numerous research studies have delved into the numerous benefits of spirulina. Many studies have concluded that spirulina can:
  • Boost the immune system
  • Improve overall health and wellbeing
  • Help wounds heal
  • Reduce the risk of cancer and kidney toxicity
  • Fight ageing
  • Protect the body against illness and viruses
A report published in the Journal of Cellular & Molecular Immunology in 2011 found that people over 50 who take spirulina may help improve their immune function and help treat anaemia. 

Another study published in the October 2009 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food found that spirulina may strengthen membranes in the intestinal wall lining. This, in turn, helps protect the body against infections.

How to Take Spirulina

The great news is that you don’t need to take a whole lot of spirulina to reap its nutritional benefits. You can buy supplements in powder, pill or flake form from your local health food store. Your naturopath may also stock spirulina supplements.

The daily recommended dose of spirulina is around 500 mg and it’s wise to check the source before taking any supplement.

Since spirulina may interact with some medications, you should also consult your health professional before taking it.

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