Spirulina

Background Info:

  • Blue-green algae that gets its name from the spiral nature of its filaments
  • Reportedly used during the Aztec civilization
  • Lacks cellulose cell walls making it easily digested

Health Benefits:

  • For those lacking certain nutrients in their diet, spirulina can help with certain nutritional deficiencies

Nutrition Information (1 tablespoon, dried):

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Vitamin A: 40 IU
  • Iron: 2 mg
  • Magnesium: 14 mg

Choose:

  • Algae grown in a natural setting has a higher possibility of being contaminated by bacteria & heavy metals which can be dangerous if consumed so make sure to choose products that have been tested for these contaminants

Research:

More randomized, placebo-controlled trials need to be done in humans with larger sample sizes but these are the current research findings

  • Allergies
    • 2 grams of blue-green algae daily for 6 months relieved symptoms of allergies in adults
  • Chronic fatigue
    • The only placebo-controlled trial did not show significant differences in fatigue between spirulina & placebo administered at a dose of 3 grams per day
  • Cholesterol
    • Taking 4.2 grams per day showed a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol after 8 weeks, no changes in HDL
  • Diabetes
    • 1 gram of blue-green algae twice daily for 2 months showed lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes
  • Exercise
    • Men taking 6 grams daily for 4 weeks could sprint for longer periods of time before becoming tired
  • Hepatitis C
    • Conflicting outcomes, showing liver function that worsened & improved
  • Menopause symptoms
    • 1.6 grams of blue-green algae taken daily for 8 weeks lowered anxiety & depression in women with menopause
  • Oral leukoplakia
    • 1 gram of spirulina daily by mouth for 12 months reduced oral leukoplakia in people who chew tobacco

Avoid:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you have an autoimmune disease as it might cause your immune system to become more active & increase your disease symptoms
  • If you have PKU, it contains phenylalanine

Drug Interactions: 

  • Immunosuppressants
    • As stated previously, blue-green algae may increase the immune system which would decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system
  • Anticoagulants
    • Blue-green algae might slow blood clotting and if taken with other medications that slow blood clotting it may increase the chances of bruising & bleeding

 

References

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/923.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3136577/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3306

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