Spirulina Health Benefits



Spirulina refers to the dried biomass of Arthrospira platensis - a freshwater blue-green algae which is the oldest forms of life on Earth. This 3,5 billion-year-old one-celled organism is credited to be a “super food” as it is most nutritionally complete of all food supplements and has countless uses for maintaining good health and for preventing diseases.

Believed to be highly nutritious, spirulina was often made into cakes and broths and was a staple diet of the Aztec civilization. In the recent times, Spirulina became famous for its dietary and health benefits after it was successfully used by NASA as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions. Today, spirulina is approved by the World Health Organization as a health food and can be found in health food stores as a dietary supplement in the form of health drinks or tablets.

Spirulina contains concentrations of nutrients unlike any other single grain, herb, or plant. It contains all essential amino acids. It also has all the essential fatty acids gamma linolenic acid (GLA) (has anti-inflammatory properties), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). It is virtually the only vegetarian source of vitamin B12, which is needed for healthy red blood cells and contains significant amounts of nucleic acids RNA and DNA and chlorophyll.

Spirulina is 65% protein which is considered to be the highest protein content of any natural food. This is 270% more protein than fish, 334% more than beef and 556% more than tofu. The protein in Spirulina has a very high net utilization rate in the body, second only to whole dried eggs. Spirulina lacks cellulose cell walls and therefore it can be easily digested. This is especially beneficial to those individuals who have difficulty digesting complex proteins and those that suffer from intestinal malabsorption.

Spirulina is also incredibly high in calcium with over 26 times the calcium in milk, making it excellent for children, the elderly and during pregnancy. Spirulina has a very high concentration of bio-available iron and is excellent during pregnancy and for those with anemia and will not cause constipation.

Spirulina’s phosphorus content makes it helpful as part of a tooth remineralization regimen. Spirulina is high in Omega-3s and also contains Omega 6 and 9s. Spirulina increases healthy lactobacillus in the intestine, enabling the production of Vitamin B6 that also helps in energy release.

Typical Analysis of Spirulina

Protein
55-70%
Carbohydrates
15-25%
Fat(Lipids)
0.05
Minerals
0.07
Moisture
0.06


Spirulina's Amino Acid Composition
per 10g
Essential Amino Acids

Isoleucine
350mg
Leucine
540mg
Lysine
290mg
Methionine
140mg
Phenylalanine
280mg
Threonine
320mg
Tryptophane
90mg
Valine
400mg
Total
2410mg
Non Essential Amino Acids

Alanine
470mg
Arginine
430mg
Aspartic Acid
610mg
Cystine
60mg
Glutamic Acid
910mg
Glycine
320mg
Histidine
100mg
Proline
270mg
Serine
320mg
Tyrosine
300mg
Total
3790mg
Total Amino Acids
6200mg


Spirulina's Essential Fatty Acid Composition
per 10g
C14.0 Myristic
1mg
C16.0 Palmitic
244mg
C16.1 Palmitoleic
33mg
C17.0 Heptadecanoic
2mg
C18.0 Stearic
8mg
C18.1 Oleic
12mg
C18.2 Linoleic
97mg
C18.3 Gammalinolenic
135mg
C others
14mg
Total
546mg


Spirulina's Vitamin Content
per 10g
Vit E 
1 IU
Vit A (b Carotene)
18mg
Vit B1 (Thiamine)
0.31mg
Vit B2 (Riboflavin)
0.35mg
Vit B3 (Niacin)
1.46mg
Vit B6 (Pyridoxine)
80 μg
Vit B12
32 μg
Folacin
1 μg
Panthothenic Acid
0.01mg
Inositol
6.4mg


Spirulina's Mineral Content
per 10g
Calcium
100mg
Iron
15mg
Zinc
0.3mg
Phosphorus
90mg
Magnesium
40mg
Copper
0.12mg
Sodium
60mg
Potassium
160mg
Manganese
0.5mg
Chromium
0.028mg
Germanium
0.006mg
Selenium
0.002mg


Spirulina's Natural Pigments
per 10g
Phycocyanin (Blue)
1000-2000mg
Chlorophyll (Green)
115mg
Carotenoids (Orange)
37mg
b Carotene
18mg

Powerful Antioxidant
Spirulina contains a powerful combination of antioxidants. Its ORAC value is one of the highest of any food of over 20,000 which is 3x the ORAC score of blueberries. C-phycocyanin (C-PC) is one of the major biliproteins of Spirulina with antioxidant and radical scavenging properties. It is also known to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. The Romay study demonstrated that phycocyanin is able to scavenge the very dangerous hydroxy radical and inhibit the oxidation of lipids in the liver. The Miranda study (1998), published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, demonstrated a 71 % antioxidant capacity for the group taking the Spirulina extract and 54% for the group that did not, indicating strong antioxidant protection.
Spirulina has the ability to modulate immune functions and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the release of histamine by mast cells. Multiple studies investigating the efficacy and the potential clinical applications of Spirulina in treating several diseases have been performed and a few randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews suggest that this alga may improve several symptoms and may even have an anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic effects.

Allergic Rhinitis
A study published in the Spring 2005 isssue of the Journal of Medicinal Food indicated that ingested spirulina made a significant improvement in human patients with nasal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis.

AntiViral & Immune Booster
A study from UC Davis showed that human white blood cells were able to launch a stronger immune response in the presence of spirulina, and allergy sufferers who take 2 g of spirulina daily experience a significant reduction in their symptoms.
Results of studies from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School showed that spirulina extract holds some promise in fighting HIV and other viruses. Further groundwork research has shown spirulina extract to be able to inhibit HIV replication.

AntiCancer
A study reported in Nutrition and Cancer (1995) that was conducted among tobacco chewers in India reported a complete regression of pre-cancerous mouth lesions in 45 percent of subjects who were given extracts of spirulina for twelve months. This was the first human study using spirulina as a cancer therapy. The researchers believe that chlorophyll may reduce the risk of developing skin, stomach, colon, and liver cancers.

Effective for Brain Damage Recovery
Researches at the University of South Florida have found that rats that were given diets supplemented with spirulina following induced strokes showed brains lesions 75% smaller than those of control group rats. The same team has also found that the brains of aged rats that were fed spirulina supplements (which have high antioxidant activity) maintained their neuron function much better than those rats fed with cucumbers (which have less antioxidant activity). The spirulina-fed rats also showed far less free-radical damage. Free-radical damage is associated with aging and diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer.

Lowers Cholesterol
Nakaya et al. in the first human study, gave 4.2 g day−1 of Spirulina to 15 male volunteers and observed a significant reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol after 8 weeks of treatment. The atherogenic effect also declined significantly in the above group.
Ramamoorthy and Premakumari in a more recent study administered Spirulina supplements in ischemic heart disease patients and found a significant reduction in blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol.

Arsenic Poisoning
Bangladesh, India, Taiwan and Chile have millions of people drinking groundwater which contains excessive arsenic. Spirulina is extremely high in Chlorophyll, which helps remove toxins from the blood with the ability to bind with heavy metals in the body and help remove them. Bangladeshi researchers conducted a three-month hospital-based study in which 33 patients were given spirulina and 17 were given placebo doses. 82% of those taking Spirulina showed tremendous improvement. Hair analysis for the spirulina and zinc patients showed a reduction of arsenic by nearly 50%.
Emerging evidence also suggests that Spirulina binds with radioactive isotopes and may be useful for radioactivity exposure or radiation therapy.

Exercise Endurance
A January 2010 research study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported that spirulina had a positive impact on exercise performance. The study found that the time to fatigue after the two hour run was significantly longer among the men who took spirulina. The carbohydrate oxidation rate was decreased by over 10% and the fat burning rate was increased by almost 11% over the placebo group. The study concluded that spirulina really does enhance exercise performance.