Spirulina – A Powerhouse Health Food

Have you tried spirulina cereals, shake or noodles? How about spirulina ice cream, coffee or chips?

If you are giving your health some importance and you know you need to take nutritious food, you should consider spirulina. Spirulina is blue – green algae which is spiral-shaped under the microscope, thus the name spirulina. It is gaining more and more popularity worldwide as a very healthy and nutritious food. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered spirulina as the health food for the future. Here are the Top Three Reasons why you should consider taking spirulina as a supplement.

1. As a Natural Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement

We are now in the health revolution age and more and more people understand the importance of food supplements in their diet. There are thousands of supplements in the store but most of them are synthetic. We prefer a natural supplement compared to those made in the laboratories because we consider the safety issues in the preparation of supplements. A natural supplement is of advantage because it dwells well with our body.

– Spirulina is very rich in multivitamins and minerals. It provides the basic nutritional insurance against any shortage in our diet. It is more quickly available to our body and assures rapid absorption into our blood stream (4 to 5 times more rapid than animal sources such as beef, eggs or cheese). According to studies, one has to eat 6 carrots to equal the Beta Carotene content of 1 teaspoonful of Spirulina. Four tablets of Spirulina give the same amount of Vitamin B12 as 2 glasses of milk, or 2 eggs or a cup of cottage cheese. Spirulina is also known to have 2 ½ times more Vitamin B12 than liver! The following essential vitamins needed by the body for survival are present in spirulina:

– Pyridoxine or vitamin B6- protects cardiac health, reduces edema and stabilizes female hormone levels

– Biotin- involved in carbohydrate metabolism

– Cobalamin or Vitamin B12- deficiency results in pernicious anemia, nerve degeneration, premature senility,

– Pantothenic Acid- “stress” vitamin, used by the adrenal glands, along with cholesterol and vitamin C, to manufacture cortisone

– Folic Acid- essential to proper hemoglobin formation in red blood cells

– Inositol- reduces loss of scalp hair.

– Niacin- effective cholesterol lowering agent.

– Riboflavin or Vitamin B2- deficiency results in cataracts, failing vision, watery eyes and uncontrollable eczema

– Thiamine or Vitamin B1- deficiency results in weakness, cardiac damage, abdominal distention and poor oxygenation

– Tocopherol or Vitamin E- protects heart and vascular health, promotes oxygenation of cells, and retards aging

The following minerals which are very important for our body processes and metabolism are also present in spirulina:

– Potassium- crucial mineral that regulates body electrolyte balance.

– Calcium- important to bone and dental health, but is also involved in neural transmissions to the muscles.

– Zinc- important on mental health, skin tone, prostate function and healing capacity.

– Magnesium- helps assimilation of vitamin C, B vitamins and protein.

– Manganese – promotes activity of neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and helps stabilize blood sugar.

– Selenium- retards aging, harmful oxidation and free radical formation, reduces the toxic effect of carcinogens

– Iron – promotes formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying blood pigment found in healthy red blood cells

– Phosphorous- functions with calcium to maintain bone density.

2. As a Good Source of Healthy Pigments

We are often advised by health experts that we should eat lots of fruits and vegetables. This is because it contains many antioxidants, vitamins and minerals polus the health pigments. Spirulina as a super green food also contains the following healthy pigments.

Chlorophyll

– This green pigment also seen in other green plants is the most visible pigment in spirulina.. Chlorophyll releases ions when struck by the energy of sunlight. It increases peristaltic action and thus relieves constipation, and also normalizes the secretion of digestive acids. During World War 11, the drying action of chlorophyll and its antiseptic qualities made it a common first-aid measure to prevent festering of wounds. In addition, chlorophyll soothes swelling and promotes granulation, the process that regenerates new tissue over injuries.

Phycocyanin

– Phycocyanin is the pigment which gives spirulina its blue cast. It is related to the human pigment bilirubin, which is important to healthy liver function and digestion of amino acids.

Porphyrin

Porphyrin is essential to the formation of healthy red blood cells.

Carotenoids

Spirulina is a good source of carotenoids- the red-orange pigments which are antioxidants and known to have anti-cancer properties. Spirulina contains 4,000 mg/kg carotenoids in the form of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, xantophylls and zeaxanthin.

3. Has Therapeutic Values

There are many uses of Spirulina to treat human disorders as per experienced mainly by Americans and Japanese doctors. Although the regulation by the food authorities do not let food supplements like spirulina to claim for therapeutic effects, it is good to know that there are numerous clinical trials relating to spirulina’s ability to alleviate certain conditions. Here are some of those clinical trials I have reviewed.

Ramamoorthy and Colleagues, Avinshilingam Institute for Home Science, Deemed University, Coimbatore, India tested the effects of Spirulina on patients with a combination of high cholesterol ( above 250mg/dl) and Ischemic Heart Disease.Spirulina lowered blood cholesterol levels and improved lipid profile. Thus, Spirulina is cardioprotective. It also lowers blood pressure and has anti-viral properties.

Baojiang Study given at the Second Asia-Pacific Conference on Algae Biotechnology (1994) concluded that Polysaccharides of Spirulina at the dosage of 300mg/kg by injection or orally can increase the percentage of T-lymphocytes in the blood thus improving cellular and humoral immunity.

National Cancer Institute, 1989, discovered that Sulfolipids in blue-green algae killed the AIDS virus in test tube experiments.

At the 30th Annual Meeting- Japanese Society for Immunology (November 2000) as reported by the Ozaka Institute of Public Health, demonstrated that Spirulina enhanced the Anti-tumor propagation effect of BCG.

Mihima and Colleagues (1998) demonstrated that Spirulina could reduce the lung metastasis of B16-BL6 melanoma cells by inhibiting the tumor invasion of basement membrane probably through the prevention of the adhesion and migration of tumor cells. Thus, Spirulina has cancer preventive properties.

Study by Mao, Van De Water and Gershwin published in the Journal of Medicinal Food (2000) conducted at the Davis School of Medicine in California, USA

Results: Spirulina was able to raise the levels of three cytokines

Interferon Y (IFN-Y) = 13.6 times basal levels

Interferon Beta = 3.3 times

Interleukin 4 = 2.0 times

Spirulina controls immunomodulation and upregulates immunity

There are lots of on-going researches revealing the benefits of spirulina to mankind. It is far better than taking synthetic vitamins with questionable content. If you are searching for a good supplement out there in the market, you can take a look at spirulina- the world’s most concentrated multivitamins and super green food.