Spirulina is generally used as a nutraceutical food supplement due to its nutrient profile, lack of toxicity, and therapeutic effects. Below are 8 health benefits backed by research.
Spirulina’s synergy of its beta carotene, iron, vitamins, phycocyanin, and other nutrients, provides sustained energy.
In a study of physically demanding environment that compared the performance of university students on cardio workout, the group which took Spirulina lasted 7.3% longer on the treadmill than those who had taken placebo supplements. The oxidative stress level in blood of those consumed Spirulina saw a 25% decrease (1).
Spirulina is overloaded with unique phytonutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides and sulfolipids that enhances the immune system and reduces the risks of infection, cancer and auto immune diseases.
Scientifically explained the most important dictate of our body’s metabolism is to support our immune system. When our immune system is stressed or is suffering, it draws on our body’s metabolic energy. People with immune system imbalance often feel chronic fatigue and low energy.
A study was conducted with 200 Spirulina users with various usage patterns, some taking the recommended dosage daily while others taking less frequently. Of those Spirulina users, 77% reported an improvement in their immune system. 80% reported more energy (2).
In another study on Spirulina’s effect on the immune system, 40 participants aged over 50 took 3 grams of Spirulina for 12 weeks.
He measured the difference in the immune system strength measuring two markers of immune systems – white blood cells and certain liver enzymes. Both improved with the Spirulina consumption (3).
Both scientific research and the experience of thousands of consumers indicate that Spirulina is an immune regulating food. Small amounts can help balance and stabilize the immune system, freeing up more of our metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients. It enhances the body’s cellular communication process and also has the ability to read and repair DNA, like a kind of cellular tune up. This is why individuals taking Spirulina often report they have more energy levels.
Spirulina is rich in natural carotenoid antioxidants that promote cellular health and lessen the risk of cancer. Oxidative damage is harmful to our cells and can cause chronic inflammation that may lead to diseases such as cancer (4).
Spirulina is a rich source of antioxidants that fight against free radicals and protect the cells from oxidative damage.
While there are several antioxidants found in spirulina, phycocyanin, a pigment responsible for its blue hue, is known to contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties according to some studies (5, 6, 7).
Spirulina’s other pigments with antioxidant power include chlorophyll, which produces green color and is responsible for detoxification, beta carotene for orange, and zeaxanthin for yellow, particularly known for its aid for eyes and brain.
Spirulina contains a number of nutrients, including vitamins B, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. High in protein (it’s often used as a vegan source of protein), spirulina also contains antioxidants, minerals, chlorophyll, and phycocyanobilin.
Researchers who studied the effect of antioxidants in blueberries studied the effects of spirulina and spinach on the brain and made a profound discovery.
In that study, rats were fed either spirulina, blueberries, spinach, or none of the above on a daily basis. While all the rats that consumed any of the antioxidant foods showed a heightened level of cognition, Spirulina fed rats had significant positive outcomes on brain scans (8).
Another study on lab rats showed that Spirulina is also beneficial for protecting stem cells, which are responsible for memory, learning, and repair work on the body (12).
Although these studies weren’t done on humans, they strongly signal the potential of Spirulina supplementation on neurological functions.
Two studies (one in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the other in the British Journal of Nutrition) showed that Spirulina reduces platelet aggregation, which plays an important role in vascular diseases by reducing your risk for thromboembolism.
And in an Oregon State University study( of rats that had induced strokes, the group fed spirulina showed brains lesions that were 75 percent smaller than those in control groups.
An enzyme complex called NADPH oxidase has been shown to play a role in
loss of dopamine neurons and lead to neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and the phycocyanin in spirulina can suppress NADPH oxidase, lowering your risk for these age-related brain diseases.
Spirulina benefits include protection for your kidney and liver by offering a powerful antioxidant, phytonutrients, which is known as fast to act and reach to the areas of the body where more of antioxidants are needed to fight off the oxidations.
In a study performed on rats, this correlation between spirulina and the performance of liver and kidney cells confirmed consumption of spirulina leads to an increased ability in withstanding oxidation .
Animal studies suggest spirulina can protect your liver, probably as a result of its high antioxidant properties and its ability to synthesize or release nitric oxide. Studies show that spirulina does the following for your liver:.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are especially in need of an increased amount of hemoglobin (blood cells) and healthy storage of iron.
Spirulina provides 30% of the recommended daily intake of iron in every serving. It is essential in hemoglobin and muscle cells delivering oxygen to one’s body.
One study in India also confirmed Spirulina’s benefit for the hemoglobin level. The study compared one group of women who took vitamin supplements but no Spirulina and one who received the same vitamin supplements and spirulina. The latter group who took Spirulina resulted in having a higher hemoglobin level than the other group (15).
A study in Greece also discovered daily consumption of Spirulina (6gm) can lead to increased fat loss, along with improved energy and endurance.
During the study participants’ 2 hour run, those with 6 grams of Spirulina daily supplementation saw a boost in fat oxidation rate by 10.9% (16).
While vitamin K can be found in many leafy greens and other plant-foods such as kale, cucumber, and asparagus, 3 grams of Spirulina can provide as much as 50% of FDA recommended daily vitamin K intake.
Vitamin K may not get talked about as much as vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, it plays an essential role in regulating regular blood clot and promoting removal of calcium deposits in the arteries.
Because vitamin K also transports calcium to other areas of the body, it’s crucial for bone health and preservation of bone mineral density (17).
Spirulina has cleansing chlorophyll which helps detoxify bodies that are always prone to present pollution. Its soft mucopolysaccharide walls bind heavy metals such as mercury and lead and safely sweep away and dispose of them.
Spirulina’s mucopolysaccharide walls do this by soaking up the water around them. This unique function of spirulina effectively detoxifies the toxins and better equip us to handle the harm of toxins.
This detoxification effect was proven when 5 grams of spirulina was given to children in the area where a nuclear plant in Ukraine exploded. After 6 months, the children’s radiation levels were reduced by 50% due to Spirulina’s ability to confine toxins to its mucopolysaccharide walls (18).
Cardiovascular system needs the arteries to pump out nutrient-rich blood throughout your body.
In a 16-week, placebo-controlled study in Korea, the elderly participants who were given 8 grams of Spirulina saw an improvement in their lipid profiles, resulting in improved cardiovascular function (19).
Diabetes and cardiovascular health are intimately connected, so it’s no surprise that spirulina shows great potential for people with cardiovascular disease, in terms of creating better lipid profiles, controlling hypertension, and increasing blood vessel elasticity.
Diabetic patients given 2 grams per day of spirulina showed improved glycosylated hemoglobin and better lipid profiles in this 2001 study(20). And in this study of the Mexican population(21), 4.5 grams per day of spirulina significantly reduced serum triglyceride levels and total cholesterol, boosted HDL, and reduced blood pressure in test subjects.
The dose of spirulina used in studies examining its effects vary greatly. In general, 1-8 g per day of spirulina has been shown to have some effect. The specific doses depend on the condition its being used for:
Spirulina is about 20% C-phycocyanin by weight, and about 1% phycocyanobilin by weight. The dosage range of 200mg/kg C-phycocyanin (1g/kg spirulina) in rats is approximately:
*Please consult your doctor when in doubt before consuming Spirulina.