If you keep up with the latest in natural news and nutrition, chances are, you’ve heard of spirulina. Due to its various advantages to health and wellness, this saltwater plant is becoming increasingly common and is available in several different forms. Keep reading for more information on spirulina, including what it is, the benefits it provides and much, much more.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in salt water. While spirulina can be found naturally, the vast majority consumed by humans has been cultivated commercially then converted to supplement form. Spirulina can be eaten as a whole food and is also available in the form of tablets, powders and flakes. Nutritionally speaking, spirulina is packed with vital substances, some of which include the following:
- Essential amino acids.
- Lean, healthy proteins.
- B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin and folic acid.
- Vitamins A, C, D and E.
The Benefits of Spirulina
Although extensive research on humans is incomplete, both animal testing and test-tube studies suggest that spirulina is extremely beneficial to numerous aspects of health. For example, when eaten or taken regularly as a supplement, spirulina may provide health benefits like the ones listed below.
Enhanced Gastrointestinal Health
Improved Cardiovascular Function
In laboratory studies, spirulina has proven effective in protecting various aspects of liver health. For one, preliminary testing has shown that spirulina’s antioxidant properties may be beneficial in preventing cirrhosis and other types of damage in patients with hepatitis. Plus, regular supplementation may also provide benefits like the following:
- Reduced inflammation of the liver.
- Protection from damage-causing heavy metals like mercury and lead.
- The prevention of fatty buildup in the liver.
Enhanced Brain Health
Protection from Allergic Reactions
Animal testing has shown that spirulina may protect against allergic reactions by restricting the body’s production of histamines, which are substances that lead to the onset of symptoms like sneezing, itching, diffuclties breathing, runny nose, watery eyes, etc.
Relief from Pain and Inflammation
Improved Energy and Mood
Is Spirulina Safe?
Spirulina is generally considered safe and effective in improving health and quality of life. However, since human research is incomplete, it should only be taken by healthy individuals or those under a doctor’s care. Also, due to its powerful effects on the immune system, spirulina should not be taken in conjunction with drugs that suppress the immune system. In addition, spirulina may present risks like the following:
- Heavy metal poisoning. Like other water plants, spirulina readily absorbs heavy metals found in its environment. These metals, which include lead and mercury, can be hazardous to health if consumed in large amounts; however, most of the spirulina available in stores is cultivated in controlled environments, thus reducing the risks of heavy metal ingestion.
- Gout and kidney stones. The abundance of nucleic acids found in spirulina may increase risks associated with kidney stones and gout. Therefore, individuals prone to these complications should consult a physician before taking spirulina.
- Allergic reaction. Although spirulina can reduce the risks associated with allergic reaction, it should be avoided by individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to seaweed or any type of seafood.
How to Take Spirulina
Typically, spirulina supplements are taken in tablet or powder form. It’s important to note that, since tablets require added ingredients and manufacturing, they are often less potent and more expensive than powdered spirulina. Plus, studies indicate that powdered spirulina may be easier to digest than tablet supplements. And although there are no set dosing guidelines, standard dosing instructions recommend three servings each day, with each serving equaling six grams of spirulina.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about this beneficial superfood. With the information provided here, you’re better equipped to decide if regular spirulina supplementation is right for you. If you are taking any medications or have any other concerns regarding supplementation, speak to a doctor before taking spirulina.